Petiscos: Discover Portugal's favourite summer snacks
Summer is finally here, and in Portugal this means much more than just going to the beach and enjoying the warm weather. It means slowing down and enjoying lazy afternoons to "petiscar" with friends and family!
"Petiscar" means relishing in small snacks known as "petiscos", which are similar to Spanish tapas but with traditional Portuguese flavours. Discover a few of our favourite summer "petiscos":
Portugal's favourite summer "petiscos"
"Petiscos" in Portugal vary according to the different regions. For example, in the Algarve and coastal regions of Portugal, many regional "petiscos" include locally caught seafood. In the Interior and Alentejo, on the other hand, some "petisco" favourites include a wide variety of local cheeses, "presunto" and "chouriço".
The Portuguese usually eat a "petisco" before meals or in the middle of the day while drinking a beer or a glass of fresh Portuguese wine.
"Petiscos" are associated with a more relaxed setting to enjoy with friends and family, which makes them a perfect choice for the summer holidays!
Sardines are a very important part of Portugal’s gastronomy and culture. The Portuguese sardine season coincides with the traditional summer festivities known as "Santos Populares", when the Portuguese celebrate three of their favourite patron saints: São Pedro, São João (Porto) and Santo António (Lisbon).
These traditional festivities take place in June and always count on one of Portugal's favourite "petiscos": grilled sardines.
Eaten simply on a slide of cornbread ("broa" in Portuguese), "sardinhas assadas" are a savoury (and healthy!) option to taste one of Portugal's most popular summer delicacies.
If you’re in Portugal and looking to buy good-quality sardines, the local fish markets are one of the best places to find them fresh, and you can find one in almost every town!
In any coastal village in Portugal, you can also count on finding delicious seafood "petiscos", made with locally caught shellfish.
Among the Portuguese favourites are “ameijoa à botão pato” (clams with garlic, olive oil and white wine), “mexilhão” (mussels), “berbigão” (cockles), “sapateira recheada” (a crab dip that is eaten with toast) as well as shrimp, usually served boiled or fried in Portuguese olive oil.
In all these delicacies, it is part of the tradition to dip a slice of bread into the sauce!
Snails, or “caracóis”, is another traditional summer "petisco" in Portugal. Grabbing a toothpick and spending an afternoon eating snails is a summer ritual for many Portuguese!
The snails are cooked with local herbs and are usually accompanied by a cold beer:
a beer in a glass is called “imperial” (it is also called a "fino" in the North of Portugal);
a “cerveja” is bottled beer, the most popular brands in Portugal are Sagres or Super Bock;
to order a pint, you must ask for a "caneca".
To try this delicacy in the authentic Portuguese tradition, don't forget to invite friends to share the experience!
Bola de Berlim
If you prefer sweeter summer snacks, then the Bola de Berlim is definitely for you! This soft doughnut is traditionally filled with a sweet custard cream and powdered with sugar on top, but there are others fillings availble such as creamy Nutella, strawberry jelly or even carob jam.
"Bolas de Berlim" can be found in any traditional café or at the beach, where different vendors sell them directly on the sand. Try one after a swim in the sea, you won't regret it!
Salads with traditional ingredients
Another famous type of "petisco" you can enjoy are cold salads, made with traditional Portuguese ingredients such as codfish, tuna or octopus, and joined with hard-boiled eggs, fresh parsley, onions and kidney beans or chickpeas.
These salads are a great option if you’re looking for a freshly light meal during Portugal's warm summer days!
“Tremoços” and “pevides”
Another classic is "tremoços” (lupin beans) and “pevides” (dry salted pumpkin seeds). These two favourites are not only widely available, but they are also extremely cheap!
The Portuguese enjoy "tremoços" and "pevides" while drinking a cold beer with friends and family. With the European Soccer Championship season here, in any café where you watch the games, this snack will always be present!
Portuguese cheese with “presunto” and “chouriço”
Any time of the year is a good time to “petiscar” one of Portugal's most traditional petiscos: bread and cheese with “presunto” (ham) or “chouriço” (chorizo). The ideal snack to pair with a glass of fine Portuguese wine!
You can also add to your cheese and sausage platter seasonal Portuguese grapes or dried nuts.
Portuguese "petiscos" is simple food for simple times... Enjoy them during a fun afternoon with your friends by the beach or with your family before a meal at your favourite restaurant.
No matter the time or season, every bite reflects the relaxed Portuguese lifestyle that so many people cherish!
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