Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities in countries such as Portugal, whose gastronomy is based in the Mediterranean diet.
This kind of diet was considered Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and has in companionship around the table one of its main characteristics.
In fact, Portuguese people enjoy sharing meals, a ritual that brings together family and friends and is a mark of their hospitality.
Many of the Portuguese dishes are fish-based due to the country’s geographical situation along the Atlantic coast. During summertime, people enjoy eating grilled sardines, as well as other kinds of fish, accompanied with boiled potatoes and salad.
The most popular fish dish is bacalhau (salt cod). It’is said it can be cooked in 365 different ways. Each region has its own bacalhau speciality, such as bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (salt cod with onions, eggs, potatoes and olives) or bacalhau à bras from (salt cod, potato, onion and scrambled eggs).
One of the most popular meats in Portugal is pork, which can be cooked in a variety of ways. Leitão assado (roast suckling pig) is a speciality of Central Portugal.
Sopa da Pedra (stone soup) comes from the Ribatejo region. It is a traditional soup made of kidney beans, pork’s ear, black pudding, smoked pork sausage, farinheira (pork sausage made with flour), uncured bacon, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves, coriander, salt, pepper and, naturally, the indispensable stone. The variety of ingredients makes it into one of the Portugal’s richest soups.
Caldo verde (potato, cabbage and sausage soup) is a creamy soup with cabbage strands and the light smoke flavour from sausage. Originally, it is a soup of the Northern part of the country. This is a very particular soup and has to be served with the cabbage cut in a distinctive way.
The Portuguese have a real sweet tooth so one can find some of the best pastries and cakes in all the little cafes. The ‘national pastry’ is considered to be pastéis de nata, which is a delicious custard filled tart.6
Specific products intimately related to traditional Portuguese agriculture, such as olive oil (azeite), salt (sal) and wine (vinho) are also remarkably present in the Portuguese gastronomy.