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Portugal - Cooking and Food Edit



Overview of Portuguese Cuisine History Edit

Portugal enjoys some of the most pleasant climates in Europe, with its moderate weather, valleys protected from harsh winds and an abundance of fish both on the ocean coast and inland. The natural abundance of the land made Portugal a target for many invading nations. During the Moorish occupation in the 8th century agriculture develop considerably. Irrigation techniques were successfully used on wineries and olive cultures and the bounty of the land was exploited in a rational and effective, 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, such spices became an important part of the Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese also brought rice and tea from the Orient and coffee from Africa, together with different plants from the New World, such as peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Portugal’s cuisine was and still is greatly influenced by the neighboring ocean. The most popular soup in Portugal is the "caldo verde", and dried codfish, "bacalhau” is a common meal for the Portuguese. Other fish such as the red mullet ("salmonete"), the swordfish ("espadarte") and the conger eel ("eiroz") find their special place in delicious Portuguese dishes, together with the all popular sardines.

Cuisines of Portugal Edit

Map of Portugal

Map of Portugal - Click to enlarge

By Geographic Area and Style:

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 chili peppers. Exotic spices and herbs are also frequently used in the Portuguese cuisine.

Preparation Methods for Portuguese Cooking Edit

The most important aspect of Portuguese cooking involves selecting the right kinds of ingredients for your dish. Using the right amount of chili peppers, for example, is essential – either for spicing or for coloring the dish. The huge diversity of plant types found in Portugal is also noticed in Portuguese cuisine. However, Portuguese cooking is not solely based on taste and flavors. The visual attractiveness of the dish is also important, and a balance between colors and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method. Starting with the sea product oriented-gastronomy and going through meat dishes, salads and deserts, Portuguese cooking relies on simplicity and ease of preparation. Of course, this does not mean that sophisticated and attractive looking cooking methods are abandoned and, in fact, many Portuguese believe that their traditional dishes are among the best looking and tasting meals in the world. yummy!

Special Equipment for Portuguese Cooking Edit

Most Portuguese dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor. Most cooking methods have a general set of instruments that need to be used, and the Portuguese cuisine is no different. Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers & portioners, food pans & food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets & accessories, the Portuguese cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Portuguese dishes. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting the food and a full set of kitchen linens and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Portuguese food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups & measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers & strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking equipment.

Portuguese Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Portuguese traditions are very similar to many of the surrounding European countries. Food and traditional dishes have an important place in festivities such as Christmas, New Year’s celebrations and, of course, weddings and christenings. However, there are particular regions of Portugal where local traditions are also prevalent. On the island of Madeira, a Portuguese possession in the Atlantic, 390 miles off the coast of Morocco, each Roman Catholic parish customarily observes a festa in honor of its patron saint. On the first Sunday of August in the parish of Estreito da Calheta the villagers worship the Blessed Sacrament, the Spirit of Christ. During celebrations such as the one described previously food takes an important role in the festivity, and elaborate and delicious dishes are prepared so as to make the festivity a memorable one.

People in Portuguese Food Edit

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There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking method for traditional Portuguese dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Portuguese chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before. Whether they are cooking a simple traditional dish or a sumptuous dinner, Portuguese chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking.

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