Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Food of Portugal

One of the most challenging things about being vegetarian is going abroad. I've been to mostly European countries, but also South Africa during my years as a vegetarian, and I've found myself in some interesting situations.

Once on a day cruise trip, I was handed my lunch - a plate of salad with a cut of meat. I asked for the vegetarian option, had my plate taken off me, the meat removed, and the plate handed back. And I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to explain that fish is not a vegetable.

I'm not a squeamish, or particularly strict vegetarian. I'm not bothered by people cooking meat, or by people eating meat, and I won't be too concerned if I think my food has touched something meaty. I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, or because I don't like meat, so it really doesn't break my heart to have a bit of meat juice on my salad, particularly when I'm abroad and I know it's likely to be an issue.

The Boyfriend and I travelled out to Portugal last week, spending a few days with family who live over there. I know from previous conversations that Portugal is a very meat and fish heavy country, so I was intrigued as to what I would get. While there, the Boyfriend and I both made some interesting foodie discoveries.


Natas are like little pastry treats you have with coffee. They are very, very sweet to offset the bitter coffee taste. Now, I don't like coffee, so I didn't have that to offset the sweetness, but I really wasn't complaining.

They were delicious. Like egg custards, in a way, but really not because I don't like egg custards. The filling in the middle was more like just custard, but much richer. I enjoyed eating these immensely.

Tornedo and Picanha

The Boyfriend enjoyed the meaty offerings. I won't cook it at home - not out of any principle, just because I fear I might kill him with it - so he took every opportunity to get his meat fix. Two new things he tried were Tornedo, which was like a small, but very thick steak.

He also had the opportunity to try some home cooked Picanha, a Brazilian dish the Portuguese have adopted. It's a specific cut of meat, cooked only on the outside, so it's very rare in the middle.

I had some delicious vegetarian alternatives, some of which I'll talk about in more detail in a restaurant review I have planned. Overall, the Boyfriend and I both thoroughly enjoyed the foods Portugal had to offer, and it was very interesting to learn about the different traditional dishes.


And despite my vegetarianism, my mouth was watering when the Boyfriend and our hosts had a Francesinha (literal translation: Little French Girl, though there is nothing little, French or girly about it).

A sandwich, swimming in a tomato sauce, containing two different types of sausage, beef steak and ham, topped with a fried egg and cheese. A heart attack on a plate, but it looked so good.

Almost enough to make me waver from my vegetarianism. Almost.

(Note: All photos taken from Google, as I stupidly didn't have the foresight to take photos myself.)

1 comment:

  1. The thing I love most about Portuguese cuisine aside from the chicken is the mouthwatering seafood grill. I particularly love fish fillet seasoned with just sea salt, garlic and olive oil. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. =)

    Carlo Mash