Traditional dishes in Portugal are varied because people there like to take advantage of the best things each region has to offer. There’s a lot of fish by the coast and in the interior, pastures to raise cattle and cultivate great grains and fruit.
Maybe you’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet before: it has a lot of fish and lean meat in it, potatoes, olive oil, cheese and herbs for seasoning. It’s not just healthy, but also delicious. Portuguese value their sweets too, and for every holiday there are special cakes and pastries to make. Carrot dumplings and king cake for Christmas, sugared almonds for Easter and funnel cakes during the summer festivals. Some pastries are so special their recipes are kept a secret by the convents that make them.
Another food that is very special to the whole country is codfish. Portuguese people say there are a thousand recipes to cook it, and that’s probably very close to the truth! It can be made in many ways, with potatoes, sour cream, fried, baked with bread, stuffed with bacon… the ideas are almost endless. This is because a long time ago people didn’t have any fridges but codfish was salted, so it didn’t need to stay cold to be good for people to eat. You could buy it and keep it for a long time and it would never go bad. It was also very cheap and tasty, so it became a popular holiday dish.
Chouriços (chorizos) are another specialty, with many flavors to pick from. They’re mixes of meat and sometimes bread, flour and spices that are stuffed into clear tubes and smoked over a fire. This makes them very flavorful and again, popular because they last so long and make something good out of little meat leftovers.