Fiery Cuisines Part 20 – Portugal


Fiery Cuisines Part 20 – Portugal

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 26

Fiery Cuisines Part 20…… Portugal

A great Cuisine, influenced be the flavours of invading hoades, and the colonize that were founded, Asian, Indian, American, African flavours married together to create a unique cuisine

Continental Portugal is a country of 91,986 square kilometres and occupies approximately a sixth of the Iberian peninsula. Since the majority of the population was rural until the 1960’s, geography has been an important factor in cultural adaptations and worldview. The northwest province of Minho is lush, green, densely populated, and the major source of emigrants. The northeast province of Trás-os-Montes is more mountainous and is divided into a northern region the terra fria with long cold winters and a warmer region the terra quente to the south. The central part which includes the provinces of Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, and Beira Litoral varies from high and desolate mountain plateaus known as the Serra da Estrela to low coastal areas. The provinces of Ribatejo and Estemadura are low-lying regions near Lisbon and the Tagus River. Much industry is concentrated in this area. Southern Portugal, drier and more Mediterranean in climate, includes the provinces of the Alentejo and the Algarve. The Alentejo, an undulating plain with cork trees and wheat fields, was traditionally an important cash-crop area. The Algarve is semitropical with almond, fig, and citrus trees. It is also a region of tourism and fishing.
Portugal has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Various peoples settled in the region, though the modern Portuguese trace their descent to the Lusitanians, who spread over the peninsula in the third millennium B.C.. Lusitanians made contact with Celtic peoples who moved into the region after 900 B.C. Roman armies invaded the peninsula in 212 B.C. and established towns at the present-day sites of Braga, Porto, Beja, and Lisbon. Successive invasions of Germanic tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. and Moors in the eighth century A.D. added new elements to the population, particularly in the south. The natural abundance of the land made Portugal a target for many invading nations. During the Moorish occupation in the 8th century agriculture developed considerably. Irrigation techniques were successfully used on wineries and olive cultures and the bounty of the land was exploited in a rational and effective, Portugal emerged as an independent kingdom in 1140 with its capital in the northern city of Guimarães. Early statehood, the expulsion of the Moors, and the expulsion or conversion of the Jews laid the foundation for a unified national culture.
In 1492 Vasco da Gama discovered the maritime route leading to the trade of spices from the Asian continent. Spices and herbs such as Pepper, Ginger, Curry, Saffron and Paprika were introduced by Portuguese traders and explorers into Europe, and, of course, these spices became an important part of the Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese also brought Rice and Tea from the Orient and Coffee from East Africa, together with different plants from the New World, such as Chillies, Tomatoes and Potatoes.

In the fifteenth century, the Portuguese inaugurated the Age of Discovery and for three centuries built and expanded a seaborne empire. This imperial enterprise gave the nation a reputation for racial tolerance that is still invoked as the foundation of Portugal’s comfort with cross-cultural diversity despite homogeneity at home. The loss of Brazil in 1822 and a series of economic and political crises led to a decline in the world position of the nation in the nineteenth century. The monarchy was eliminated in 1910 with the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic, which was replaced by the authoritarian dictatorship of António Salazar in 1926. Salazar formed his New State ( Estado Novo ) in 1932 on a corporatist political model and emphasized God, family, and work as the central values of the national culture. He limited access to higher education and, in emphasizing the Catholic faith, promoted humility, routine, and respect for authority as guiding principles of social life. He also celebrated the rural way of life by sponsoring a national competition in 1938 for the most Portuguese village.
The cuisine types found in Portugal are not as clearly defined as those belonging to other countries. Of course, there are differences between coastal areas and other areas situated inland, but the discrepancies are small and hard to notice. However, we can observe in Portuguese cuisine several influences that came from the numerous areas the Portuguese explorers had discovered, and, in many cases conquered. Strong influences can be noticed between the Portuguese and the Brazilian cuisine, and there are several common dishes – such as feijoada, a traditional Angolan, Brazilian, Portuguese dish or Caldeirada (Fish stew). Indian cuisine influences are also felt in the Portuguese cuisine, mostly because of the province of Goa, situated in the southwestern part of India. Different spice and seasoning combinations are noticed in the Portuguese cuisine, such as using Garlic and Vinegar together. The usually mild tastes of coastal cuisines are combined with the delicious power of Chillies. Exotic spices and herbs are also frequently used in the Portuguese cuisine.The cuisine varies by region. The north is known for Caldo verde , a Kale and Potato soup generally flavoured with a slice of Chouriço a spicy sausage. Also important are grilled Sardines. The traditional bread, especially in the northwest, is Broa , a grainy Corn bread with a thick crust. In Minho, the traditional wine is vinho verde , a young wine made from Grapes that grow on arbors that often serve as property markers. In the northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes, fresh and cured Pork, is used in a number of dishes. A stew of mixed meats and vegetables called Cozida a` Portuguesa originated in this region and has become a national dish. In central Portugal, cheeses are more common because of pasturing in the Serra da Estrela and fish ,including Octopus, Squid and Eel is abundant. In the south, the most popular soup is a form of Gazpacho with bread and smoked Pork. A Pork and clam stew cooked in a tightly sealed steamer is the regional dish of the Alentejo. Olive oil is used throughout the country.
Bacalhau , Salt cod has been a national dish of Portugal since the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese began fishing off the coast of Newfoundland. Pastéis de bacalhau the Codfish croquettes are a popular appetizer. An important seasoning is Cumin which is equally important as Piri-piri . Cinnamon is a common flavouring for desserts, such as the traditional Rice pudding .
Port, a fortified wine produced in the region of the upper Douro River, is a major export. In rural households on ceremonial occasions, port is offered to celebrated guests, including the parish priest.
O almoço , the noon meal is served at about twelve thirty, and O jantar, dinner at 8 P.M. O pequeno almoço, Breakfast is usually Continental style. In rural regions, it is traditional for men to stop at the local café before heading to the fields to have their shot of stiff brandy known as pinga so that they, a to matar o bicho (kill the beast).
One of the most important ceremonies in rural households is the annual killing and preserving of the Pig. This event occurs in late December or January and usually takes two days, since it involves making sausage, smoking ham and salting several other parts of the pigs, including the belly. The noon meal on the first day is called Sarrabulho and consists of Rice, offal, and the blood of the Pig.


Recipe time,
Try a few of my favourite Portuguese recipes