With a rich history and culture, it is not surprising that the Iberian country of Portugal carries a superb tradition of flavorful dishes that have enriched the world’s gourmet palette. Its fine gastronomic heritage encompass the entire gamut of the culinary arts, starting with cooking oils and ingredients all to capping your dining with a glass of fine dessert wines.
For starters, its warm Mediterranean slime has favored the cultivation of olive groves which has catapulted the country as one of the major sources of the most expensive edible oils in the world – virgin olive oil. Used for salads or in cooking delicacies, no fine dining would be complete without olive oil. The recent trend towards a healthier diet points to it as the best health-giving cooking oil on the planet.
A most popular ingredient in many Mediterranean cuisines is the pine nut and Portuguese culinary preparations enjoy its flavorful bounty. Also known as umbrella pine, the Portuguese pine nuts obtained from stone pines grow abundantly in the country and have been harvested over the centuries as the rich flavour of the pine kernels taken from these pine nuts account for some of the superb Portuguese gourmet dishes.
As a country bounded by the Atlantic waters to the west and south, Portugal not only developed one of the mightiest naval forces at one time in history, notably in the 15th century’s age of exploration and maritime exploits, it also had and continues to enjoy a thriving fishing industry that have made Portugal famous for its seafood dishes.
Its sardines and European pilchards are not only integral to the country’s local delicacies but have found their way around the world. While the Spanish sardine may be more popular, the Portuguese sardine is just as delectable and you may not know it, but the Spanish sardine you just had might have been a Portuguese sardine.
Talking about seafoods, Portugal is well known for the Bacalhau, a prominent native dish made of cod fish meat which while popular, is not consumed as a regular diet but is often prepared only during festivals and special occasions due to its expensive and rare ingredient.
With a wine making tradition dating back to 2,000 BC when the Tartessians laid the foundation for cultivating vineyards near the Tagus river valley, Portugal can boast of rivaling France for many of its wine products, notably the Port and Madeira wines which figure prominently in the tables of virtually all Portuguese families and are now part of the fine selection of wines in many gourmet restaurants around the world.
In addition, its Douro and Vinho Verde wines also figure in the list served in any fine restaurant with the Port wine as an excellent finish to any fine dining experience as a dessert wine. GP