I-ATE: a Portuguese Menu

August 26, 2017 11:00 am

Travel documents? Check. Backpack? Check? Empty stomach? Check. We would like to invite you to join us on a culinary trip to Portugal, where we can enjoy some of the country’s most appreciated recipes. We have a full menu waiting for us with soup, a fish dish, a meat dish, a sweet and a dessert in this week’s I-ATE Food Term.

I-ATE Food Term of the Week banner - Porto wine, pasteis de nata and strawberry over wooden table


Sopa da Pedra (Stone Soup), Almeirim

Sopa da Pedra (Stone Soup)

Statue of the Friar in Almeirim

This soup is associated with a tale from the city of Almeirim, in the district of Santarém. This traditional Portuguese tale was collected by Teófilo Braga (poet, writer and the 2nd President of the Portuguese Republic). According to this tale, a starving friar was begging from door to door. He went to a farmer’s house but the farmer refused to give him anything. The friar looked at a stone on the ground and wondered if it was good enough for a soup. The people in the house laughed at him but the friar assured them that stone soup was delicious. They didn’t believe him, of course, so the friar asked them for a pot to make the soup and then put the stone, after washing it, in the pot of boiling water. As the water was boiling, he cunningly asked for the ingredients he needed for the soup by saying how much tastier the soup would be if it had lard, salt, cabbages and smoked pork sausage. Only the stone was left when the friar finished the soup and the people asked him about the stone. The friar replied: “I’ll wash it and take it with me for another time” (Diário de Notícias, 2011). And so, the friar ate where they wouldn’t give him anything (A Senhora do Monte, 2012).

Bacalhau com Natas (Cod with Cream)

Bacalhau com Natas (Cod with Cream)

Cod became a part of the eating habits of the Portuguese at the time of the Discoveries. Since dried salted cod isn’t perishable, it was suited for the long sea travels. Cod became popular among the people because they couldn’t afford buying fresh fish at the time. For these reasons, cod was named “fiel amigo” (faithful friend) and Portugal became the biggest consumer of cod in the world (Infopédia, n.d.). There are so many ways to prepare and serve cod in Portugal that people say there are a thousand and one cod recipes (Expresso, 2015).
Bacalhau com Natas is a very appreciated and popular dish in Portugal as well as abroad. The origin of this recipe is not well established. However, there are records of a very similar recipe, created by Chef João Ribeiro around 1930. Although the use of dairy products, such as cream or cheese, isn’t very common in traditional Portuguese recipes, the popularity of this dish made it a reference in Portuguese gastronomy (Cozinha Tradicional, n.d.).

Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese Stew)

It’s one of the most famous traditional Portuguese dishes. This stew, which is a “part of the Portuguese Legacy,” has its “origins in the Beira region” and is “made up of different meats and vegetables, with exact compositions varying by region. (…) [T]he most common ingredients are beef shin, pork, assorted offal, chicken or smoked sausages, served with carrots, rice, turnips, potatoes and cabbage, and garnished with olive oil and accompanied by a hearty red wine.” This dish is “best consumed at lunch around wintertime“, since it is quite heavy (City Guide Lisbon, 2015). Interestingly, the recipe’s origins are unknown. Some people say that this recipe was born out of economic necessity and leftovers couldn’t be wasted. Others believe that the Portuguese Stew has Jewish roots. Since Jews can’t work on the Shabbat, they would prepare the meats and vegetables on the previous day and then eat them after sunset on the day of rest (A Senhora do Monte, 2016).

Ovos Moles, Aveiro

Ovos Moles de Aveiro (“Ovos Moles” of Aveiro)

“To visit Aveiro without tasting ovos moles is a sin.” The shape of the ovos moles is obtained by mixing eggs and sugar indulgently and it is prepared according to traditional knowledge” and the “[c]onfectioners were inspired” by their proximity to the “lagoon and sea elements” to turn the “thin layers of host into shells, whelks, fish or clams” (Centro de Portugal, n.d.). Legend says that a nun at the Convent of Jesus was fasting as punishment ordered by the mother superior for having committed the sin of gluttony. The nun disobeyed the order and dedicated herself to mixing eggs with large quantities of sugar. However, she was caught red-handed and hid the mixture in the host dough on the table. The next day, a delicious sweet appeared on the front door and it was believed that it had been a miracle from God (Maria da Apresentação da Cruz, Herdeiros, n.d.). Additionally, the “ovos moles were the first Portuguese bakery product to be distinguished with the tile of Protected Geographical Indication, given by the European Union. This qualification guarantees that this traditional dessert from Aveiro is always of the utmost quality, because it is prepared entirely according to the original recipe, using high-quality ingredients and the same traditional manufacturing techniques, thus preserving ancient knowledge which has been perpetuated by many generations of confectioners” (Centro de Portugal, n.d.). You can find out more by following this link.

Baba de CameloBaba de Camelo

Baba de Camelo (literally “Camel Slobber”) is a favourite among the Portuguese. While this dessert can be found in many restaurants throughout the country, it is easy to make at home. In order to make this recipe, you need to boil a can of condensed milk in water for 2 hours and 6 eggs. Then you mix the condensed milk and the eggs and put the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours (Agante, 2014). The origin of this recipe is also unknown. The story goes that Ms Valentina had unexpected guests and decided to improvise a quick recipe with what she had in the refrigerator: condensed milk and eggs. However, she was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough for all the guests, so she named it Baba de Camelo. The truth is that few guests dared to taste it but those who did, enjoyed a delicious sweet (Em busca do cardamomo perdido, 2010).

We hope you enjoyed these recipes and the trip. And you, have you been to Portugal and tasted any of these?

Have a lovely weekend!

Written by Pedro Ramos. Translator, Social Media and Content Manager, Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg).


  • Official Journal of the European Union, C 184, 22 July 2008. Available at: http://bit.ly/2v5JMhn (Accessed: 23 August 2017)
  • “Baba de camelo” in Em busca do cardamomo perdido (2010). Available at: http://bit.ly/2g4N3qm (Accessed: 23 August 2017)
  • “Sopa da pedra” in Diário de Notícias (2011). Available at: http://bit.ly/2g1CILY (Accessed: 22 August 2017)
  • “Sopa da pedra – Receita e Lenda” in A Senhora do Monte (2012). Available at: http://bit.ly/2x9blUj (Accessed: 22 August 2017)
  • Agante, Mafalda (2014), “Baba de Camelo, a simplicidade é doce” in Activa. Available at: http://bit.ly/2wxs5Yg (Accessed: 23 August 2017)
  • “Cozido à Portuguesa” in City Guide Lisbon (2015). Available at: http://bit.ly/2xoZ2CA (Accessed: 21 August 2017)
  • “Bacalhau: Conheça as 10 receitas preferidas dos portugueses” in Expresso. Available at: http://bit.ly/2wBsfxT (Accessed: 24 August 2017)
  • “História do Cozido à Portuguesa” in A Senhora do Monte (2016). Available at: http://bit.ly/2g1Tmv2 (Accessed: 21 August 2017)
  • “bacalhau” in Artigos de apoio Infopédia. Porto: Porto Editora, 2003-2017 (n.d.). Available at: http://bit.ly/2vhU3mC (Accessed: 24 August 2017)
  • “Bacalhau com Natas” in Cozinha Tradicional (n.d.). Available at: http://bit.ly/2wInvWe (Accessed: 24 August 2017)
  • “’Ovos Moles’ of Aveiro'” in Centro de Portugal (n.d.). Available at: http://bit.ly/2vV7yLR (Accessed: 22 August 2017)
  • “Ovos Moles em Aveiro” in Maria da Apresentação da Cruz, Herdeiros (n.d.). Available at: http://bit.ly/2vbaCR4 (Accessed: 22 August 2017)

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