porco preto

We’re back from a tour of the Alentejo (and Lisboa), and are we ever stuffed. Every day, our guests rolled their eyes heavenward and made mumbling sounds of happiness as they tasted black pork, oven-roasted lamb with mint, pork loins, deep fried finger-sized fish (eaten whole), clams steamed with cilantro and garlic, shark soup, chickpea stew with pork and chouriço, and much more. We haven’t even gotten to the sauteed rabbit or cataplana yet. And the desserts! Carob tart, sweet rice, various concoctions with egg and loads of sugar, chocolate mousse, and of course the regional delicacies available in Lisboa and Sintra: pasteis de Belém (custards in pastries), queijadas (egg pastries made with fresh cheese and loads of cinnamon), and travesseiros (egg and almond pastries).

I’m not sure our guests are ever going to leave. We tried to bring them back down to earth with a “clean out the fridge” lunch today, but even then they were delighted with the rest of our goat cheese, spicy olives, and local beer. And tonight we’re serving bacalhau à Brás, a yummy dish of shredded salt cod, shoestring potatoes, eggs, olives and fresh parsley. They’re never going to be the same after this trip.

Which, of course, is the whole point.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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26 Responses to FOOD!

  1. Southern Portuguese food has some nice dishes, but to my taste buds they don’t compare to northern dishes, those are my favourites.

    The North Remembers, and so will your appetite.

    • oregon expat says:

      Northern dishes are lovely too (and huge!). Alas, we didn’t have time for a full national tour — the southern half was all we could handle without exhausting our guests and ourselves.

      Guess they’ll just have to come back.

  2. Jbrandao says:

    They’re americans right?
    Tell them how much we pay for a doctor’s appointment and for a hospital visit.

    Good food AND care? They will NEVER leave! MUHAHAHAHA (evil laughter)

  3. xenatuba says:

    We’ve been having a fantastic time. Yep, Americans. Oregonians, even. Seen some amazing sights, had some great food, and looking forward to more!

    • Paulo says:


      • xenatuba says:

        Recall format. Alas, suitcase is full of Port and Pottery…I couldn’t even fit Cuban rum in. Next time, I promise!

        • Paulo says:

          Thanks anyway. 🙂
          Oh, Alentejo pottery… I so understand why.
          Safe trip back to the Pacific NW.

          • xenatuba says:

            Paulo, as we were staggering through customs, I saw one suitcase that had been disgorged of its contents, and appeared to have “one of everything” that had been carefully wrapped being cut open and inspected. When I do return, I will make sure to bring appropriate re-wrapping materials…and another suitcase!

          • Paulo says:

            Too familiar with that… and with my mother sending me bacalhau and smoked meats which became just a fragrant remembrance in the almost empty package that finally got to me.

          • oregon expat says:

            Que horrível!

            I sympathize — my parents sent a December package with turkey jerky for our kid and my favorite chocolates for me, neither of which ever appeared on this end. Postal workers who steal care packages ought to be taken out and shot.

          • Paulo says:

            Your chocolates were probably the delicious victims of those hardened criminals you mention and who should be dismembered and set on fire, but I’m not so sure about the other victuals – they did include a form stating that the “fresh products” had been confiscated and destroyed according to health/safety regulations. Chances are they always take a big chunk of it home, anyway.

            P.S.: turkey jerky? Really? OK…

          • oregon expat says:

            Jerky = the perfect hiking food!

            Our kid ADORES jerky of any form. It’s his traditional birthday/Natal gift from my parents. Sometimes he even shares.

          • Paulo says:

            I know, I know. Believe me, it was a painstaking acquired taste. I used to think – like most in my generation from Porto – that Super Bock was the be-all and end-all of beers. I sometimes blasphemed that “maybe Sagres is nice as well on some special summer days, no?” and was brought to my senses by outraged die-hard SB fans.

            So I blame the microbrews for destroying one of my long-held references and for the puzzled looks over my disgusted look when I tried a Super Bock for the first time in a long while during my last visit to Portugal. I was as surprised as they were, and stuck to the good old good wine for the duration of my stay.

            I would contend, however, that even San Miguel or Estrella Galicia are a much better excuse for beer than Bud or Coors or Miller. I mean, yuck!

        • Paulo says:

          Before I forget, this may be information that could come in handy: somebody told me that if the package does not exceed 2 kgs – so let’s say 4 lbs. – it will not be targeted for mandatory inspection, which is always the case with those exceeding that weight.

          At least that seems to be the rule for U.S. incoming mail.

          • oregon expat says:

            Good to know, though I never mail anything over 2 kilos to Oregon because I tend to faint at the cost.

          • Ah. But this may be a very useful information to the incoming mail to Portugal. (Note: send it to “our” oregonians.)

          • Paulo says:

            But of course. 🙂
            I would gladly send a case of awesome (there’s no other kind) Portland beer, but… it would be over 2 kgs, unfortunately…

            That reminds me: I suffered from some cognitive dissonance when I read that “your” Oregonians enjoyed the Portuguese “beer”. I can’t for the life of me understand why or how. Maybe it was just the “at least it’s not Spanish beer” factor. Since my love affair with the Oregon microbrews started (oh Ninkasi Tricerahops, how I love thee), Sagres tastes like bad detergent to me, and Super Bock tastes like not so bad detergent.

            Just saying. 🙂


          • oregon expat says:

            Because one of our guests appreciates all beers, including light ones, and the other didn’t much like beer at all — but found Sagres to be to her taste. My own opinion about beer before coming to Portugal could have been summed up as “yuck,” but now I suck down Sagres (or Super Bock) happily. So it seems that Portuguese beers are made for people who don’t like the malt-heavy microbrew style.

            That said, Spanish beer (at least, what we tasted in Ayamonte) appears to be made for Americans who miss their canned Budweiser.

  4. Ana_ñ says:

    I was getting a little dizzy just reading the list of delicacies and almost fainted when I clicked the image to ambrosify… oh my! 😉

    Dear Xenatuba, I am sure they have taught you to ‘jiboiar’ properly after each meal so you will happily survive this incredible gastronomic marathon. Certainly, you couldn’t possibly be the same after this trip!

    Enjoy and thanks for sharing!

    • xenatuba says:

      I am not the same, and yes, I was properly instructed. I believe that I must engage in a quest to perfect a Pacific Northwest tapas repast.

      • Power Wench says:

        Please invite me! I’m in Oregon too!

        • Paulo says:

          Maybe a Portland foodcart joint-venture? First ever Portuguese-inspired place?

          On the Spanish tapas theme, two restaurants in Portland are doing a good job: “Toro Bravo” and “Patanegra” (I find the latter a bit overpriced – but it has the only Portuguese waiter in the Pacific Northwest!)

          • There’s a portuguese fast food chain, it’s called Nando’s.

          • Paulo says:

            Good point! I had heard about it from my Australian friends, and was quite surprised to find a Nando’s in Canada last year, in Victoria BC. Almost went there, but my “no chain-restaurants” rule was stronger. I have been thinking about this for quite some time and my temporary conclusion on why there aren’t any decent Portuguese food places, or any at all, is that our cuisine relies heavily on the quality of the local products. Without that, there is not much that can be exported or franchised, or used for “fusion”. It’s a shame, but at the same time it’s a good thing – to be advertised and improved on.

            That said, when I was living in California I twice had sardines flying overnight from Matosinhos for our S.João, via a company in New York. I had tried before using Monterey sardines and that was a disappointment…

            To be clear, my comment above doesn’t mean that it can’t be done but, particularly in the US, it would be hard to compete with Italian, Spanish and other Mediterranean well established structures and habits. Of course I could be wrong about all this.

          • Well I can think of two typical portuguese products that could be converted to franchise products, Francesinhas and Pastéis de Nata, both could be easily made, they are fast to make and yummie. Add that Café Expresso.

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