Traditional Flavours

Cheese, Sausages, Olive Oil, Honey, Fruits

 

 

 

 

Cheese, Sausages, Olive Oil, Honey, Fruits

 

Part of getting to know a country and its culture is discovering its most traditional products; whose quality and history have earned them a well-deserved fame. Portuguese gastronomic traditions include a wide range of authentic flavours, which have been passed down from generation to generation and people have proudly preserved them because they are theirs, distinctive and authentic.

 

We're talking about about cheeses, sausages, olive oil, honey, fruits... a world of pleasures that make life more tasty. The land and animals provide the raw materials that man transforms with wisdom and care.

 

Usually accompained by good bread and even better wine, Portuguese cheese is available from north to south and some varieties are true national symbols, like Serra cheese. This is the most well-known and widely appreciated of Portuguese cheeses, produced exclusively with Bordaleira sheep milk. Celorico da Beira, in the Beira Interior, is considered the capital of Serra cheese and hosts traditional cheese fairs, as do many other towns in the region. Going south, there is Azeitão cheese, a very special soft cheese, only produced in the particular conditions of the Arrábida mountains. The Alentejo also contributes with some really good cheeses, like those of Nisa, Serpa and Évora.

 

As for sausages, the region of Trás-os-Montes plays an important role, with its chouriço (smoked pork sausage) and salpicão de vinhais (salami style sausage), with their intense flavours. Then there's the famous Alheira de Mirandela, appreciated all over the country. It's name comes from the garlic ("alho"") used in its preparation. The Alentejo also has a word to say, with its high quality pork meat from the Alentejana breed. Following traditional production methods, they produce chouriço (smoked pork sausage), farinheira (pork sausage made with flour), cacholeira (liver sausage), loin of pork, morcela (a sort black pudding), paio (cured pork sausage) and the traditional Barrancos presunto - cured ham.

 

Olive Oil, that golden nectar widely used in the Mediterranean, has been part of the Portuguese diet since the 15th century. Regarded as essential for health, olive oil is king in Portuguese cooking, irreplaceable partner of bacalhau com grão (salted codfish with chick peas), a typical Portuguese dish. Some of the best olive oils produced in Portugal are those from Moura, the Northern Alentejo and Trás-os-Montes.

 

Honey, eaten as it comes and also in cakes and puddings, varies according to the flora in each region. The most common varieties are Rosemary, Orange-tree, Sunflower, Heather, Eucaliptus and multifloral. The honey from North East Trás-os-Montes and Serra de Monchique are especially remarkable for their quality and flavour.

 

Among fruits of the earth, the chestnut stands out, especially as, down through the years, it was an essential food resource for local populations. It is related to popular traditions, such as the feast of São Martinho, when the custom is to eat chestnuts and wine. And in Lisbon, as soon as autumn arrives, the warm smell of roasted chestnuts fill the streets and squares. And some people still remember the old street vendor's cry: "Get your lovely, tasty, hot chestnuts here!"

 

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