5 Delicacies to Try Out When Visiting Portugal

The rich and vibrant history of Portugal has directly influenced the unique cuisine of the atypical European country. The location of Portugal as a trading post has led to the distinct flavors of the region being represented in Portuguese food. As the 15th Century European explorers would return from their travels laden with new spices from around the world, Portuguese cooks would implement them into their food. Over time, spices such as curry, ginger, paprika, pepper and coriander became staples in the cuisine of Portugal.

Delicacies You Can't Afford to Miss Out on While Vacationing in Portugal

Here are five different categories of food that make up the backbone of food in Portugal. Each category is laden with delicacies, so be sure to try them all on your next trip to the beautiful country.

Portuguese Cheese.

While many people think of the Swiss and French when they think of European cheeses, Portugal gives both countries a run for their money. One of the most famous cheeses to come out of the Serra de Estrela is the Queio da Serra, a sheep's milk cheese that is pasteurized to perfection in land with the highest elevation of the country. Most comparable to amazing Brie cheese, the smooth texture and subtle flavors of Queio da Serra make it a must taste delicacy.

If you come to Portugal in the spring, be sure to try the seasonal cheese, Azeitao. Other amazing cheeses to try include the Serpa, a sweet young cheese from the Alentejo region that gains dryness as it ages and the Cabereiro, a strong goat's milk cheese that hails from the Azores Islands.

Portugal’s Seafood Delicacies.

Situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, it's no wonder why the culinary tradition of Portugal is steeped in seafood. Be sure to try Bacaluhua, a dried codfish named from the region from which it was first cooked. This is the most popular delicacy in the country and depending on where you are vacationing, each region has a slightly different take on the preparation and cooking.

You should also try any Linguado (a sole), Salmonete (red mullet), Peixe Espada (swordfish) or Eiroz (eel) wherever you see it. Many of the most indulgent and tasty dishes in the Portuguese cuisine are made from these fish. Of course, perhaps the most popular export of the country are Sardinhas, or sardines. While Spanish Sardines are still more popular around the globe, anyone actually from the area knows that Portugal’s Sardinhas are far more tasty.

Finally, be sure to try some of the more pointed dishes such as a Cataplana dish made with clams from Algarve. This dish is lush with bacon, sausage, herbs and of course, delicious clams fresh from Algarve. If you can't find this, you should look for Percebes, or “goose barnacles.” While they don't look very appetizing (they remind me of hideous dinosaur claws), you won't be able to stop eating them. Find them in seafood eateries near the coast.

Meat Delicacies of Portugal.

One of the best meats in the land come from the wine regions of Alentejo. The pork from here comes from animals that are stuffed with acorn and truffle diets while grazing in the cork oak groves of the land. This gives the pigs a distinct, succulent flavor when roasted.

Try this pork when it is diced up and then marinated in red peppers and clams. This is called Carne de Porco a Alentejana. Then, be sure to sample popular meat delicacies such as Salpicao and Paio, two of the best smoked sausages in Portugal. For the real culinary adventurer, I strongly recommend Tripas a Moda do Porto. This is basically chicken trip, chourico (another smoked sausage), smoked ham, onions and dried beans. Of course, it's the spices that really make this dish shine.

Dessert Delicacies.

If you have a sweet tooth, Portugal has an answer for it. Try Pasteis de Nata, a custard tart that was invented by the nuns in the Mosteiro de Jeronimos, located in Lisbon hundreds of years ago. Still, to this very day, the recipe is a secret that is heavily guarded by the makers. This means you're not going to taste anything like this dessert unless you come to the original spot in Lisbon, the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem. While you're there, try out the other amazing pastries as well.

St. Anthony's Sardinhas Assadas.

Finally, we have the Sardinahs Assadas, which are essentially grilled sardines. But what makes this so special from regular grilled sardines is that these are cooked up during the St. Anthony's Feast starting on June 12th. Outside of just about every restaurant, you'll find chefs grilling on the streets, filling the air with amazing smells as they compete for business with their own special rubs and recipes. If you're planning a trip to Portugal, be sure to save enough money to try all of these great delicacies. Bon Voyage!

Author Bio – This article is written by Catherine Clarkson from Carrentalportugal.org a price comparison portal for car hire in Portugal. For more details on how you can save money on cheap car rental in Portugal do check out his website for more details.