Updated: 24 Jul 2020
Portuguese cuisine was first recorded in the seventeenth century, with regional recipes establishing themselves in the nineteenth century. Culinária Portuguesa, by António-Maria De Oliveira Bello, better known as Olleboma; was the first ‘Portuguese-only’ recipe book published in 1936. Despite being relatively restricted to an Atlantic, Celtic sustenance, the Portuguese cuisine also has strong French influences. The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is also notable, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers), white pepper, black pepper, paprika, clove, allspice, cumin, nutmeg and saffron are used in meat, fish or multiple savoury dishes. Homemade hot red pepper paste made of malagueta peppers is commonly used in the various dishes of the Azores islands, along with other spices. Cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, aniseed, clove and allspice are used in many traditional desserts and sometimes in savoury dishes. Garlic and onions are widely used, as are herbs, such as bay leaf, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint, marjoram, rosemary and coriander being the most prevalent. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine, which is used both for cooking and flavouring raw meals. This has led to a unique classification of olive oils in Portugal, depending on their acidity: 1.5 degrees is only for cooking with (virgin olive oil), anything lower than 1 degree is good for dousing over fish, potatoes and vegetables (extra virgin). 0.7, 0.5 or even 0.3 degrees are for those who do not enjoy the taste of olive oil at all, or who wish to use it in, say, a mayonnaise or sauce where the taste is meant to be disguised. Portuguese dishes include meats (pork, beef, poultry mainly also game (hunting) and others), seafood (fish, crustaceans such as lobster, crab, shrimps, prawns, octopus, and molluscs such as scallops, clams and barnacles), vegetables and legumes (a variety of soups) and desserts (cakes being the most numerous). Portuguese often consume bread with their meals and there are numerous varieties of traditional fresh breads like broa which may also have regional and national variations within the countries under Lusophone or Galician influence.