5 Portuguese dishes to celebrate Portugal Day
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Today is Portugal Day, which excites me because, given it is winter in South Africa, I get to enjoy some wholesome Portuguese food. Not that I need an excuse.
Portugal Day, officially the Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities (Portuguese: Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas), is celebrated annually on this day. It is celebrated by Portuguese people throughout the world and commemorates the death, on June 10, 1580, of Luís de Camões, a poet and national literary icon.
Camões wrote Os Lusíadas (usually translated as The Lusiads), Portugal's national epic poem celebrating Portuguese history and achievements.
Being Afro-Portuguese, I grew up eating some of the best food (ignore the bias but more than a million other Portuguese people living in Mzasi feel the same). Here is my list of the top 5 foods to enjoy today.
The national dish of Portugal, bacalhau is dried and salted codfish, which is usually soaked in milk or water before cooking. We have been eating bacalhau since the 16th century when fishing boats brought it back from Newfoundland. It is so popular that it has the nickname of fiel amigo or “faithful friend”.
Pastéis de nata
Now, this, I could eat every day! Pastéis de nata is the famous Portuguese custard tart that is delicious. This iconic dessert consists of crisp puff-pastry cases filled with egg custard and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Pastéis de nata originated in the Jerónimos Monastery in the Santa Maria de Belém area of Lisbon.They taste best warm and straight from the oven.
While sardines are not my favourite, I would be in big trouble with my mother if I did not include them. Chargrilled sardines are synonymous with Portugal. Portuguese eat them fresh from the Atlantic Ocean, all year round, but especially in the summer. The sardines are first coated with salt and then cooked over a hot charcoal grill. You can then eat them whole, with their crispy skin and all. Portuguese sardines are typically served on a simple slice of bread.
Most meals in Portugal involve a soup dish. While fish, bread, and cold tomato soups are common, the most famous is caldo verde which comes from the Minho Province of northern Portugal. This heart-warming green soup traditionally consists of just five ingredients: potato, onion, thinly sliced kale, olive oil, and chorizo sausage. With the cold temperatures out of control in SA, this is sure to warm you up.
Cozido à Portuguesa
This rustic Portuguese stew is an absolute must-try for meat lovers. Numerous regional variations of cozido à Portuguesa exist throughout the country, but it usually consists of beef, pork, chicken, and assorted smoked sausages.