Sunday, 16 August 2009

Portuguese Man-of-Snacks

I spent the first two weeks of July travelling around Portugal. I am quarter Portuguese and quarter Brazilian (as well as being half Scottish and lived half of my life in Edinburgh and half in London and a year in Berlin) and have spent many holidays as a young'un in various bits of Portugal.

Many of my early memories revolve around Portuguese food - the first bowl of calde verde of the holiday, taking a break from the sun to chomp on some buttery torades in a smoky pastelaria, the smell of chargrilled sardines, the satisfaction of biting into a warm, freshly baked pastel de nata. My parents would sometimes cook a cataplana when I was a toddler and I would greedily eat their clams, prawns and chorizo, soaking up the fishy tomato sauce with bread.

Portuguese cooking is not well known outside Portugal - not nearly in the same way that many other Mediterranean cuisines are. The wondrous Pasteis de Nata are savoured across most European cities, Nandos is bringing a very small element of Portuguese cuisine to the masses, while the cookbook Piri Piri Starfish is raising the cuisine's profile among foodies.

My recent trip to Portugal was a veritable culinary voyage, eating all my favourite dishes, re-discovering some old tastes and trying out some new dishes. I'm going to detail these in bursts as I blog along. So today it is...Portuguese snack food!

A tasty lunch of beef croquette, pasteis de bacalhau, and a tasty chicken empanada.

Tosta mista - a classic snack lunch of cheese and ham toastie.

Torrados - thick white bread, toasted and drenched in butter. Bliss.

rissois de camarao - a prawn pastry in breadcrumbs.

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