Portugal is a country of heirs to great explorers and seafarers. Its modern day cuisine was formed, on one hand, by invaders, i.e. the Romans and Arabs and on the other - by exotic spices brought back from journeys made to the New World.
The dishes found on Portuguese dining tables meld the simplicity of flavors and the exoticism of indigenous spices. The Romans introduced garlic to Portuguese cuisine and the Arabs: rice, almond trees, lemon plantations, figs and peaches.
The cuisine of central Portugal consists mainly of meat. The most famous dish is Leitão Assado, i.e. roasted pig. The important role that meat plays in the cuisine of this region is owed to the fact that agricultural areas are predominant, where there is a need for dishes that provide a lot of energy for work.
Here's the gentle side to Portuguese cuisine. We're talking about Caldo verde (green broth), where tradition dictates that it's served with several pieces of sausage.
It all starts with a thick broth (usually meat), mashed boiled potatoes and curly cabbage, and very often kale as well. There are versions where they use a little bit of white beans instead of pieces of sausage. The soup originates from the northern part of the country but today it's everywhere.
Tripas a modo do Porto is a stew with pieces of tripe, sausages and white beans, and the most characteristic area, where the recipe itself also comes from, is Porto. The number of legends surrounding this national delicacy truly are substantial.
The most well known states that during times of war, people would give all of the meat they had to the departing soldiers. For themselves they would only leave the innards, forcing them to come up with new things to cook with them and thus creating the Portuguese specialty.
Arroz a cabidela is also among the most famous dishes of the sunny country. At first glance it contains nothing special but this fine dish has turned into a symbol of excellent Portuguese taste. The ingredients are chicken, rice, curry and the blood of the cooked bird.
More popular dishes from Portuguese cuisine include: Portuguese style pork, Portuguese style chicken, Magellanic style sauteed lamb, turkey with orange juice, carrot jam, vencedora salad.