When we planned our 2015 trip to Spain, Portugal started off as a side-note. Dreaming of alluring Spain, we hadn't even considered Portugal. But after noticing our plane tickets to Spain through TAP made a long layover in Lisbon, no matter what day we flew, we started thinking about extending the stay a day or two.
I looked into what Portugal could offer, and came back with a heap of food, culture, and architecture just waiting to be savored and explored. One or two days turned into four or five, and our visit to Portugal quickly evolved into a central theme in our 2015 trip. It also turned into one of our favorite countries to visit, and have vowed to one day experience more of Portugal, or maybe even one day call it home.
Aside from the charming buildings complete with intricately tiled facades, or pleasant and friendly people that gave us a warm welcome, the unique food is reason enough to visit Portugal. I think what captured us most about Portuguese food is that is it so simple and light, yet hearty and full of flavor. It tastes just like home-cooking should taste, with old-world ingredients that haven't changed in centuries. A diet rich in seafood and bread, here's the list of a few of those items you should try when in Portugal!
1. Caldo Verde
This enticing green soup gets its color from kale. It's a Portuguese kale that is said to only grow in Portugal. Potatoes and olive oil also play a part. But the linguiça, or sausage, that packs this soup with a hearty and filling flavor. Get some at any small bakery or deli with a side of torta mista, a melted ham and cheese sandwich, and you'll be set with a perfect Portuguese lunch!
Bacalhau literally translated is codfish, since the dish is named for the salted and dried cod that comes from the Atlantic Ocean to the west. But in Portugal, the word has so much more meaning than just the type of fish. It translates to their national dish, their staple meal, and a worldwide culinary masterpiece.
Bacalhau can be prepared hundreds of different ways, but for the first time traveler, and the first taste, try the casserole dish known as Bacalhau com Natas. This is codfish with potatoes, and is prepared by literally soaking the dried and salted fish in a butter, olive oil, garlic, milk, and nutmeg mix. Potatoes and onions are added for a creamy and delectable stew!
3. Sopa de Mariscoes
Speaking of stews, Sopa de Mariscoes, or seafood soup, is more seafood than soup. Filled with all kinds of ocean treasures, boiled in a broth, and subtly spiced, this simple yet mouth-watering dish can also vary across the country, and change depending on the availability of local seafood.
Since Portugal is world-renowned for their seafood, a seafood stew only makes sense. Start with a white-wine and broth soup, add four or more types of seafood, such as lobster, large prawns, squid, mussels, clams, scallops, and of course, codfish, or others types of Atlantic fish, and you have yourself the best seafood stew you will find anywhere in Europe!