Portuguese cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is characterised by rich, filling and full-flavoured dishes and is closely related to Mediterranean cuisine. The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is also noted, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers) and black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic is widely used, herbs such as coriander and parsley too.

Portugal has a long coastline and a passion for seafood that includes tuna, sardines, swordfish, cod, sea perch, shrimp, crab, clams, octopus and eel.

Fish is served grilled, boiled, fried or deep-fried, stewed or even roasted. Foremost amongst these is bacalhau (cod), which is the type of fish most consumed in Portugal. it is said that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year.Cod is almost always used dried and salted. Fish dishes are often flavoured with olive oil and white wine vinegar.

In spite of the quality and wealth of their fish market, the Portuguese love meat and they cook it according to the most varied and flavourful recipes.

Grilled steak ("bife a Portuguesa"), very often cooked in a Port wine sauce, is served throughout the whole country. Just as popular is the kebab ("espetadas"), marinated in wine and garlic that add their special relish to the meat as it cooks.

There is a wide variety of Portuguese cheeses, especially made from goat's or sheep's milk, or both together. Usually these are very strong-flavoured and fragrant. The most popular Portuguese cheese, the "Queijo da Serra", is a sheep cheese, made in the Serra da Estrela region, where the highest peak of Portugal is located.
The Portuguese enjoy rich egg-biased desserts. These are often seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. Perhaps most popular is leite-creme (a set egg custard). Also popular is arroz doce ( rice pudding, a must in Christmas time parties).

From the North to the South, the country is wealthy in good wines and, apart from the unique Port and Madeira, there are more than one hundred different varietes of wines, ranging from table wines to special ones. Port wine is a fortified wine of distinct flavour produced in Douro normally served with desserts.

It is just a short presentation of Portuguese cuisine which in my opinion (after reading some articles about it) is fantastic.

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