19. Dec, 2017

Gastronomic traditions in Portugal during Christmas

Feliz Natal or Boas Festas translates to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”! Some will say – it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Like in any other modern country, in Portugal, Christmas is more and more about presents, shopping and consuming. This version of Christmas is inevitable…it has not, however, yet hindered the festive spirit. Christmas is also about family, friends, fireplaces and hearths, and of course about food and cooking. It is about people you hold in your heart forever…This festive period is filled with great joy as family, friends and loved ones gather together, exchange gifts and enjoy each other’s company, hopefully in good health and high spirits. Towns and villages unveil their holiday decorations, mostly in the form of street lights and the Presépio (Nativity Scene, often the scenes have dozens of characters including the holy family, animals, the wise men, shepherds, farmers and folk characters. I believe it is fair to say that Christmas traditions in Portugal are still shaped by the strong Christian religious beliefs. Traditionally, Pai Natal, (Father Christmas), is believed to bring presents to children on Christmas Day. Children used to leave their shoes by the hearth or the fireplace and wake up early on Christmas Day to see what presents they have received. Although this is still a tradition in many households, the Christmas tree is more and more the centre of the occasion. The family reunion takes place on Christmas Eve "Consoada" and consists of boiled codfish, potatoes and greens dressed by rich olive oil. This can also be followed by seafood, octopus or roasted turkey, depending on the family budget and region. Many families attend the “Missa do Galo”, the midnight mass services.

Bacalhau com Todos (desalted cod fish with different vegetables )

Desalted cod fish rules in Portugal at Christmas and plays an essential part in the Christmas Eve dinner menu. For this dish, the salt cod, also potatoes. green cabbage, carrots, turnip, onion and eggs are boiled. These are all generously drizzled with good quality Portuguese Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The tradition of this dish dates back to the time when the Catholic Church required the faithful to fast during religious feasts, forbidding them from eating meat and giving salt cod centre stage. List of ingredients (serves 4); 4 pieces of desalted cod; 4 large potatoes;1 large Portuguese kale (if not available use green cabbage); 2 carrots; 4 eggs;4 cloves of garlic; 2 dl extra virgin olive oil; 1 teaspoon of vinegar; Salt and pepper to taste;1 bay leaf. Method of preparation: Place the desalted cod in a pot with water. Bring pot to  boil add, bay leaf and 3 cloves of garlic. When boiling turn off the stove,. Clover pot and let it rest 45 minutes. Peel the potatoes and carrots. Wash the cabbage. Place in a pot with salted boiling water and when the cabbage is tender. Remove. Boil the potatoes in the same water along with the carrots. boil the eggs for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil with the garlic that is left. Arrange on a platter neatly, potatoes, cod, cabbage and eggs cut in half. Drizzle with Olive Oil and serve hot.

Peru assado (Roast Turkey)