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Food and Drink

Portugal - Food and Drink

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In some grocery stores the scales are in the produce section, not at the checkout. If you don't weigh your produce and go to the checkout, you will probably be told Tem que os pesar or Tem que pesar,"tem que ser pesado" ("You have to weigh them"/it(they) must be weighed). Snacks Portugal is famous for its wide variety of amazing pastries, or pasteis(singular: pastel). The national pastry, pasteis de nata (called just natas further north), is a flaky pastry with custard filling topped with sugar (acucar) and cinnamon (canela) but, strangely, with a very low caloric content. Buy one (or half a dozen) at the Pasteis de Belem a few minutes by tram from central Lisbon, where supposedly the best pasteis in the country can be found. Also excellent are the bolo de arroz (literally, "rice cake") and the orange-carrot cake. But don't stop here. Head for Sintra, a short trip away from Lisbon, and try the famous queijadas de sintra. From the more egg-oriented North to almond-ruled South, Portuguese pastry is excellent and often surprising.

On October/November, roasted chestnuts (castanhas) are sold on the streets of cities from vendors sporting fingerless gloves tending their motorcycle driven stoves: a treat!


Drink

When traveling in Portugal, the drink of choice is wine. Red wine is the favorite among the locals, but white wine is also popular. Also Portugal along with Spain have a variation of the white wine that is actually green (Vinho Verde). Its a very crisp wine served cold and goes best with many of the fish dishes. Drinking wine during a meal is very common in Portugal, and also after the meal is finished people will tend to drink and talk while letting their food digest. (Don't let yourself be bullied into drinking if you're driving, though!) Port wine may be an aperetif or dessert. Folks might find it a bit difficult to refrain from drinking, even if there are very good reasons to do so (such as the above mentioned driving). The easiest way is to explain that one can't for health reasons. The Portuguese aren't as easily insulted as others when it comes to refusing the obvious hospitality of a drink, but a lie such as "I'm allergic" might make clear a situation where one would have to otherwise repeatedly explain a preference. Drinking is considered almost socially intimate.

Be careful of 1920 and Agua Ardente (fire water), both pack a mighty punch.

Portugal is well known as the home of Port wines.


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