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Saturday, December 22, 2012


Since it is the season to be talking about this, I thought of doing a post on traditional Portuguese season cookery that came from the 28th century and even further back. And of course, adding some recipes. Perhaps you'll get inspired and do them yourself.
The post will consist of 3 courses, which ingredients I have talked earlier in other posts and blogs of mine: fish, meat and desert. Enjoy!

As I've explained on my blog about food in the Middle Ages (http://ataleiga.blogspot.pt/p/carnemeat.html), fish was an important food source in Christian Europe, eaten during the holy days, like lent and others. On the other hand, Portugal having the Atlantic ocean as it's natural border and being influenced by Moorish navigation skill, had a more developed fishing activity, bringing types of fish known to live in deeper waters, further away from mainland, as thus, destroying the idea that fishing in the Middle Ages was only done along the coastal area.
One of the most fished species was cod. It seems that Portuguese fishers got licenses from England to fish in its seas during the 14th century. It then would be kept in salt and then sold as stock fish. Don't forget that to eat this salted fish, you need to put it in water for 2-3 days changing the water 3 or 4 times a day.
So, it's only natural that eating cod became a Christmas tradition.
During the 18th century in Portugal, fish became a cheap food source and cod was so inexpensive that it was a very common dish in the lower classes.
Today there are inumerous cod recipes; some experts say even more then a thousand, being new recipes invented almost every day.
The most traditional way to cook cod for Christmas is boiling it, but since it is a religious holliday, I thought of giving you the recipe for “Spiritual Cod” (Bacalhau espiritual). It's in Portuguese, but I think the images are self explanatory.

Here's the list of the ingredients:
  • 700g of desalted cod
  • 400g of grated carrots
  • 2 cut and sliced onions
  • 2 chopped garlic
  • 125ml of olive oil
  • 4 old breads
  • milk
  • 60g of margarine/butter
  • 60g of flour
  • 250ml of milk
  • 275 of water where the cod cooked
  • 200ml of creme
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg

On a previous post on this blog, this years Easter if I'm not mistaken, I've wrote something about Cocoa, turkeys and Pineapples and how they were introduced, amongst other American produce, in Europe’s diet.
Remembering the importance of Turkey seems to be very according to these festivities. After the maritime discoveries of the Americas, this animal quickly became famous in the kitchens of nobility across Europe, while in Christian North America it, later, became part of a new festivity called Thanks giving.
«... turkey meat always got a luxury representation at Portuguese regal tables during the 17th and 18th centuries. (…) The 1st document found with the usage of turkeys in Portuguese food habits is a recipes book called “A Arte de Cozinha” (The Art of Cookery) by Domingos Rodrigues in 1680 which had 24 turkey recipes.
In 1787, Beckford, wrote about a luncheon served to the Portuguese queen D. Maria the 1st and to her family that was made out of stuffed turkeys.
This was the time when turkey meat became part of the Christmas traditions in Europe.»
In some Portuguese regional traditions it is the turkey that is glorified as the main Christmas meal, just like cod is in others.
And here's a marvelous image of a cooked X-mas turkey, with pineapples, Brazilian recipe, which is in agreement with what was said previoulsy. Not the recipe though; I think you probably have one around the house.

According to a previous post about Portuguese food habits, this country is known for its convent made sweets. These sweets/deserts were made out of 2 important ingredients: egg yolks and sugar. The 1st was the leftover from the starching methods of the time and the 2nd one came to Europe during the maritime discoveries. Made in convents by nuns and monks since the 15th century, the maritime discoveries and the Portuguese sugar monopoly made it possible for this old time cooking tradition to be developed even further.
I don't want to talk to much on this cookery tradition here, since I want to add all the information on a future post.
Here's an interesting site I've found, in English:
Papos de anjo (Angel's maw/goitre), Toucinho do céu (Heaven's bacon), Barrigas de freira (Nun's bellies) where very common convent recipes in the 18th century and, funny enough, William Beckford who dedicated an entire book on his opinions on Portuguese food, saw no critic in these convent sweets!
Here's a recipe for the Papos de Anjo, which I made myself and are very easy to do. Just a warning: it is VERY sweet and should be eaten in moderation.

  • 10 egg yolk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 table spoon of cornstarch
  • 500g of sugar
  • 500ml of water
  • 7,5g of vanilla sugar
  • 30ml of rum
  • 2 lemon peels
  • 1 cinnamon stick

And don't forget to finish your meal in a very traditional Portuguese fashion, since the 18th century: to have a coffee at the end of the meal.

1 comment:

Le Loup said...

They all look great.
I wish you all the very best for xmas Sara & the coming New Year.
Regards, Keith.