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Foodprint

Portugal is importing nearly 75% of its food and the Mediterranean country with the heaviest per capita food footprint, meaning that if everyone in the world consumes resources like the Portuguese, 2.5 planets earth are needed.

The biggest culprit is the country’s exceptional appetite for fish. Portugal is – after Japan and Iceland – the third biggest consumer of fish in the world engulfing every year around 62 kg per person, most of it –especially tuna, swordfish, and cod –imported.

But dependence doesn’t stop there. The country also relies heavily on the biocapacity of foreign nations – like Spain, France, Brazil, and China – for cereals, honey, jams, chocolate, and fats. Any short-term improvement isn’t expected, due to the fragile structure of public policies to reverse this trend.  

The Associação Natureza Portugal (ANP) – partner of the World Wildlife Fund – also recalls, that the ecological footprint has increased much more than the global average of 1,6 planets a year.


‘This ecological footprint in our country has mainly increased in the last three years. Portugal now appears in 46th place worldwide, whereas in 2018 it ranked 66th. This is due to the massive growth in tourism after the economic crisis and before the arrival of the coronavirus’, explains Catarina Grilo, conservation director of the ANP.

Besides an excessive consumption pattern, about one million tons of food is thrown away every year. Especially fruits and vegetables are wasted when they lose their expiration date or appearance, although often still suitable for consumption. In the whole EU, it is estimated that annually nearly 90 million tons are wasted.


‘Some supermarkets and department stores have strategies to combat food waste at the same time helping those in need. With the current pandemic, food aid requests increased more than 60%’, explains Filomena Pinto da Costa, coordinator of the youth support organization Casa Pia.

In a country that presided over the EU in the first half of 2021, Portugal had an important role in setting goals to reduce the ecological footprint at the European level. The Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, recently declared that 1.2 billion euros of funds are reserved to restore habitats and ecosystems between 2021 and 2027.


Stay Healthy      Fique Saudável                             (pic Público/Sapo)









Mains

Traditional food is based on fish, seafood or pork with lots of olive oil.

Bacalhau is the undisputed National dish, especially on Christmas Eve when 4 to 5 thousand tons of Norwegian cod is devoured.
Cod became prominent during the Discovery Era because it could be stored for longer periods. You can see and smell the large hard chunks in shops, where a small saw is often used to cut the fish. Salted cod is primarily soaked for at least 24 hours in water before cooking, grilling, frying, or braising

Popular dishes are cod baked with cream (bacalhau com natas), stir-fried with shredded potato, eggs, and onions (bacalhau à brás) and cod with chicken peas (meia-desfeita).
Meia-desfeita (‘half-undone’) stems from the times when one used to order only half the dish.

Arroz de marisco consists of rice, monkfish, and seafood like prawns, mussels, squid, or clams and is usually seasoned with fresh herbs and white wine. Unlike the Spanish paella, it is not fried and often described as a thick rice stew.

Polvo à Lagareiro is made in the style of Lagareiro. In this case, the octopus is boiled, then cut into pieces, grilled, and brushed with extra virgin olive oil. The dish is dressed with a combination of garlic, coriander, lemon juice, and salt, served with small roasted potatoes with their skin intact and lots of olive oil.

Cataplana de marisco refers to a popular fish- or seafood dish sharing the same name as the clam-shaped copper pan in which it is prepared. The Moors introduced the dish which usually includes white fish, shellfish, red peppers, onions, and a bit of chili.


Alheira is a smoked sausage typically made with various types of meat, bread, garlic, olive oil, and paprika. It is believed to be invented during the Inquisition by Portuguese Jews. To disguise as Christians they started producing pork-like sausages but would replace the traditional pork with poultry and game.


Feijoada à portuguesa is a hearty bean stew originating in the north of the country before it was introduced in Brazil, where it is considered the National dish. It is made with red kidney or white beans and usually includes pork (ears, foot), morcela (blood sausage), or chouriço.

Iscas com elas are thin strips of cow’s liver, sautéed in wine and garlic. They’re served with boiled potatoes (referred to as elas – meaning them). The dish was brought to the country by the Galicians, who arrived in the 18th century to work in, and later own restaurants and cafés.


Cozido à portuguesa is a rustic stew for meat lovers. It usually consists of beef, pork, chicken, and smoked sausages, such as morcela, chouriço, or alheira. It might also contain other bits of animal-like pig’s ear or foot – and potatoes, cabbage, or carrots. All the ingredients are cooked together in a single pot with different items added at different times.



Boas Festas        Stay Healthy      (pic tasteatlas/roads&kingdoms/sapo)










Snacks

The only food the Portuguese are more crazy about than fish is soup.

Caldo verde is a thick soup made with thinly-cut strips of Galician kale and potato, and always a lump or two of chorizo floating in it. It is thought to originate from the northern Minho province in the 15th century and goes very well with Broa.

Broa de milho is cornbread consisting of plain flour, cornmeal, yeast, water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. It is often used for dipping in soups and stews. In the past, broa de milho was considered a poor man’s food but is enjoyed today by all tiers of society.

Açorda is bread soup in numerous varieties. Most have a smooth and thick consistency and contain olive oil, salt, herbs (coriander), garlic, eggs, and boiling water poured over diced bread.


Bolinhos de bacalhau or pasteis de bacalhau are little deep-fried patties of salt-dried cod and potatoes.

Bifana is a sandwich that consists of pork steaks simmered in a garlic sauce and then placed inside a bun. It is suggested to have appeared first in Vendas Novas. When beef instead of pork is used, the snack is called prego. Both are such fast-food classics that Mc Donald’s produces a McBifana and a McPrego for the  Portuguese market.

Sardinhas assadas are synonymous with Portugal. First, the sardines are coated with salt before grilled over a hot charcoal grill. You usually eat them on a simple slice of bread with soaks up the delicious juices. There is even a sardine festival in Lisbon on the 13th of June when the city is filled with smoke.

Caracóis are seasonal and available from May until September. When you see signs saying ‘Há caracóis’ at cafés and restaurants you’ll know they are around. 

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato is a simple dish named after the 19th-century poet Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato. It combines clams and a flavourful sauce based on olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, and fresh coriander.

Queijo da Serra is the country’s most famous cheese from the mountainous region of Serra da Estrella. The primary ingredient of this soft and salty cheese is unpasteurized ewes milk to which thistle is added to coagulate the milk.

Pasteis de nata is the famous egg custard tart, originally made around the 18th century by Catholic monks and nuns in Santa Maria de Bélem in Lisbon. The tart was made from leftover egg yolks, used in the starching of nuns’ habits. The owners of the shop Pasteis de Belém – a former sugar refinery next to the Jerónimus Monastery – are said to have acquired the recipe – they still use – in 1837 directly from the monks.

Stay Healthy                         Fique saudavél   (pic tasteatlas/expatica)





Cod

You can wrap it in plastic, put it in Tupperware or do both, it still smells.

Portugal is the world leader in consuming salt-dried cod and the only country in the EU that consumes more cod than salmon.
One-third of the cod consumption occurs during the festive season. On Christmas Eve five thousand tons of cod – caught by the Norwegians in the arctic Barents sea – are being devoured.

What began in a country with a large following Christianity as an alternative food to the Church’s fasting of meat during Lent, later became associated with Christmas. The traditional meal is called Consoada. It consists of boiled salt-dried codfish – soaked for 2 or 3 days to remove most of the salt –  boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, boiled chickpeas, and boiled cabbage accompanied with a dressing of chopped raw onion, garlic, parsley, and lots of olive oil!

Cod (bacalhau) is the nation’s favourite dish. According to the locals, there are 365 different ways to prepare it. Well-known dishes are bacalhau à lagareiro, à brás, com natas, com broa and bacalhau de cebolada.  Bolinhas de bacalhau are delicious snacks. Lombos (loins) are the juiciest and most expensive parts that can be roasted, baked or grilled. Postas (steaks) are good for frying but also used in soups and stews.

The fish isn’t native to Portuguese waters. The Vikings – who used to take air-dried cod on their sea voyages – probably introduced bacalhau in Portugal. To preserve it longer, the Basques went a step further by salting the fish before drying.

But how did cod become so popular in Portugal? Through Terra Nova (New Land)
In the European Age of Discovery and Exploration, the Portuguese claimed Newfoundland (currently part of Canada) or Terra Nova as their discovery. The island was a fish mine and named Terra dos Bacalhaus (Land of Codfish) on old Portuguese maps. Except that the protein-rich salted cod served to feed sailors on pioneering ships, the fish became an integral part of the national cuisine after the Portuguese commercialized the fisheries in the 16th century.

Traditional fishing far away from home was easier said than done. Each fisherman was assigned a dory – a small flat-bottomed fishing boat – which was lowered from the mothership into the ice-cold waters once they reached the banks of Newfoundland. The fisherman then ventured all alone into the foggy sea and was left to his own till his boat was filled the day’s catch. The documentary The Lonely Dorymen from 1967 clearly shows the harsh conditions the men had to endure


Aproveite o seu dia                  Enjoy your day
            (pic Observador/Público)