Traditional Portuguese Food

Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Sunday, June 21, 2015 Under: food and drink

When I first came to Portugal - the Algarve to be precise - I was a bit sceptical about the food that was served by the locals.  In The Netherlands we have a saying, literally translated into English: "what the farmer does not know, the farmer does not eat!"   And - I am a bit ashamed to admit - that is often also the way I behave.  But, getting older and wiser, I am more often trying new flavours and foreign dishes, although some things I will never ever put in my mouth because the bare looks of it give me the message: this is no food, this should not be eaten (just like these little snales, or het head of chicken...). 

Well, coming back to Portuguese food, most of the traditional recipes date back to a time when there was a lot of poverty. Vast areas of Portugal always have been very poor and thus people had to get inventive and create tasty meals with the few things they had.  This resulted in some simple, hearty, unfussy and honest dishes.


One of the most important things for the Portuguese is bread.  They eat it with every meal and in large quantities. For me, the local bread is very tasty and of good quality, but only when it is fresh. If this type of bread is a day old, you can seriously hurt somebody with it!  Stale bread is also used in açordas, gaspachos and in the traditional migas.

What I really appreciate in Portugal is the fresh Altantic seafood, the creamy local cheeses (especially the one from the Serra do Estrela), ham and other meat from the acorn-fed black pigs (porco preta), the delicious olive oil, some of the tempting desserts and not to forget the noteworthy and very affordable local wines.  If you are looking for some nice recipies of traditional Portuguese food, please have a look at the page Traditional Food from my website on the area I live in


If you are visiting Portugal you should definately taste the traditional cured meats and sausages like for instance chouriço and linguiça. Then there is the outstanding local honey!  This honey is of an extremely high quality, especially in the Monchique region, because of the great biodiversity and the clean air.

In most recipies here there are some key ingredients involved:  onions, garlic, cilantro, ground paprika, oregano, parsley, wine and olive oil (azeite).  All of these ingredients are locally grown and delicious. 


The Portuguese love their pork meat and chicken (and most of them keep some at home), but they also regularly eat fish, especially sardines and horse mackerel from the BBQ. Once in a while they will eat game dishes, lamb or goat. Usually all meals are accompanied by a simple salad made with curly lettuce, cucumber and onion with some salt, vinegar and olive oil.

Then there is another very important staple food of Portugal: Bacalhau - dried and salted codfish.  This is very popular throughout the country and it said that there are as many recipies for it as there are days in a year. Bacalhau is on the menu regularly.

As far as vegetables are concerned, one of the favourites is cabbage. Also dried pulses and broad beans are very popular. Most veggies are included in the slowcooked stews.  As a dessert, people usually take some fresh local fruit, such as pears, oranges (the best in the world) or figs. There are also some sweet desserts, but they are not eaten every day.  

What you will not find in rural Portugal is fast food. Instead visit one of the family run restaurants where unhurried gentle locals serve their homemade fresh dishes.  Here you can have a daily special, including wine or beer and dessert, for under 10 Euro.  Enjoy!

In : food and drink 

Tags: portuguese food  portuguese traditional food 

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About Me

Marianne Hoesen Born in the deep south of The Netherlands, I moved to the central Algarve in 2007, together with my partner and 2 dogs. In the meantime we added some goats and chickens and are living a peaceful life in the rolling hills of the rural south of Portugal. I invite you to read a bit in my blog and to leave a comment afterwards. Also check out the holiday accommodations mentioned elsewhere in this website.


Algarve Portugal
café Portugal, bica
Esteva, rock rose, Algarve
sun, beach, Algarve
real cork real wine
beach Algarve
folklore dance Algarve
chicken piri piri

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