Portuguese Gastronomy and Olive Oil

4 October, 2018 Discover Olive Oil, Discover Portugal

Portuguese Gastronomy and Olive Oil

Let’s talk about Portugal, its culture and its gastronomic traditions responsible for being a holder of a Portuguese cuisine so rich and diversified, where all who pass by stand out and surrender and those who are here are eternally in love with our unique flavors and palates.

Eating habits, the traditional diet and the products that form part of it, are important elements of this cultural identity. They carry marks of other ages, they are carriers of history. Maria Fernanda Machete (1991, p.7)

In the essence of Portuguese gastronomy we can highlight a magic liquid of golden color, an icon of Portuguese culture and keeper of a unique importance in the Portuguese cuisine … the olive oil.

We will travel back in time to discover a little about the origin of olive oil and its appearance in Portugal. The production of olive oil is an ancestral tradition and in the countries of the Mediterranean dates back to 3000 b.c. In Portugal, the vestiges of the olive culture date back to the “Visigothic Code” of 560 a.d. However, the main drivers of olive cultivation and exploitation of the country were the Arabs when they conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the sixth century.

In the thirteenth century, Olive Oil already had a prominent place in foreign trade, a position maintained later. It was an ingredient abundantly used in the Middle Ages.

Later, the religious orders, with their role in the revitalization of agriculture, devote special attention to the production of Olive Oil. The “sacred oil” had a fundamental importance in the economics of the Convent of Santa Cruz de Coimbra, the Monastery of Alcobaça, the Order of the Freires of Christ, the Order of the Temple and the Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Resistant to drought, easy to adapt to rocky terrain, the olive tree has become a constant presence in Portuguese agriculture.

The tradition of olive oil production in Portugal has been maintained over time, it passed from generation to generation, allowing it not to be lost. It was formerly used as a form of lighting, only later it was used as the base ingredient in food confection.

This legacy brought by our ancestors made olive oil rooted in the Portuguese culture not only because of the Mediterranean and Atlantic influences that the Portuguese gastronomy suffered, but also because they represent the basis of Portuguese food for many centuries. At that time the food was based on a trilogy consisting of bread, olive oil and wine.

The history of a people with few economic possibilities and reduced diversity of food stimulated the creativity in the use of food that they had at their disposal to make their dishes.

And so were born many of the recipes currently classified as typical dishes of Portuguese gastronomy.

Olive oil is used in many different ways in Portuguese cuisine depending on the area of ​​the country, being used the raw or cooked, the raw as a form of seasoning and cooked form as a base for the sauté.

However most regions use this food as a basis for confection. We highlight some examples of typical Lusitanian dishes where the olive oil is an integral part: Cozido á portuguesa, Choco-frito, Caldo-verde, Bacalhau á Brás, Arroz de pato, Bacalhau com Natas, Bacalhau com Batatas a murro, among others.

The soul of being Portuguese mirrors itself in its unique flavors and palates!




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