Snacks and fast food
Fast food has conquered Western Europe, but Portugal has so far managed to limit its exposure to the hamburger culture. McDonald`s has its restaurants here, for sure, but they are far less numerous than in the rest of Western Europe. Also its siblings from Pizza Hut and Burger King have not yet been able to break the hegemony of local smaller shops, and especially, the pattern of local food habits.
Nuno (22, photo) tells me that each province or even city in Portugal has its own regional treat. Lisbon, or more particularly, the area of B?lem, is known for its Pasteis: a small cup of pastry, filled with sweet yellow cream. It is generally consumed alongside a tiny espresso, in one of the many coffee shops. Supermarkets sell pre-packed versions, but the original and local version is bound to be better. The nearby city of Sintra has Travesseiros de Sintra, sweet bean cake, as its own specialty and while the more northern city Aveiro is famous for its egg cream pastry Ovosmoles.
`Each Portuguese province or even city in Portugal has its own regional treat`
Chocolate is available all over Portugal but bars are not the most common `delivery method`. The most likely occasion for people to eat chocolate is when they are having breakfast. In that case, it will come with their cereals, submerged in sterlised milk. Just like chocolate, supermarkets sell a wide variety of sweets, but their popularity cannot compete with pastry in any way. The only type of sweets that is at least somewhat popular is menthol tablets, which are used against Portuguese constipation. Of the nose that is ? the Portuguese language does not distinguish between different parts of the body that are blocked when it comes to constipation.
Ricardo (26) tells me that many people eat healthy snacks: `People eat raw carrots and they drink a lot of fruit juice. Orange, pineapple and peaches are favourites, while mixed fruits are becoming increasingly popular. Fruit juice comes in many different versions, ranging from Fanta Pineapple to the alternative juice type nectar, which is a somewhat thicker substance than ordinary juice.`
Side-dishes and snack ingredients
Another step thicker then nectar is doce: marmalade. It`s especially the tomato version that is very popular. It is used as a toast spread and differs from ketchup in the sense that it`s quite sweet. The best type is the one people make at home, but the doce can be found on supermarket shelves as well. Doce is put on toast, and the combination serves as a quick and not-too-unhealthy snack.
Olives, bread and different types of cheese usually serve as the introduction to a nice meal. As a quick side-dish to a good glass of beer or wine, many pubs serve Tremo?os. Tremo?os officially translate as `Lupin beans`. From their looks, they could be mistaken for mais. Tremo?os have a structure of dry white cheese and taste like nothing particular but slightly salted: good for generating thirst.
In the streets
Especially in autumn, many old people can be found preparing baking chestnuts in the streets. They typically converted an old motorcycle and an oven into one device and occupy a street corner for entire days. The chestnuts are handed out in triangle paper bags, in the same way Belgians serve their chips. Beside chestnut carriages, there are also mobile stands selling popcorn. These are not as widespread as the chestnut elderly, as their appearance is often limited to special events.
The best way to enjoy a local snack is to head for one of the many taverns. They sell many different quick bites at decent prices. David (17) tells me about Sapatera, a crab shell filled with a cocktail made of different types of sea food. Most taverns have a whole list of small pieces of food. Not in the same way as the Spanish tapas but still good enough for a quick and promising introduction to Portuguese cuisine.
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