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A Gastronomical Journey Through Lisbon

14 Nov

Portugal is perhaps Europe’s best kept secret. Not as hyped up and touristy as neighbouring Spain, it has a vintage charm that is hard to resist. Last December, my friend and travel companion Jen (who is also a blogger and great photographer!) and I decided to go on a 4-day trip to Lisbon via Madrid. We also undertook a day trip to the ancient city of Sintra, that has been described by Byron as ‘Glorious Eden.’

Prior to this trip, my conception of Portuguese cuisine was limited to Nando’s flame-grilled peri peri chicken (shameful, I know), which I was fairly certain did not ‘really’ represent Portuguese food. I was, therefore, both curious and excited to explore more of what Portugal had to offer gastronomically.
The first meal we had in Lisbon was a delicious dinner near Rossio where I ordered a caril de camarao (prawn curry) with a hint of coconut, laced with cream. Jen ordered bacalhau (baked cod with potatoes) that both looked and tasted delicious. I was rather intrigued by the idea of having curry in Portugal and wondered if this was an influence from Goa, a former Portuguese colony in South India.  The influence of Portuguese flavours and ingredients on Goan cuisine is a known fact and reflective of the export of cultural practices across colonial empires. What did strike me as interesting, although perhaps not surprising is observing and experiencing the incorporation of Goan recipes into Portuguese cuisine. Although, it remains a question whether the Portuguese brought culinary influences back with them to the home country or whether Goan immigrants to Portugal inspired the use of such recipes in restaurants and homes. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

Prawn Curry - Photo Courtesy: Jen Huang

Bacalhau – Photo Courtesy: Jen Huang

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