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How to Become More Portuguese in 19 Steps

Portugal Food + Drink
by Sandra Guedes Oct 22, 2015


1. Start the day by going to the coffee shop, drool all over the pastry selection before you finally order an espresso and a traditional custard pie (“Uma bica e um pastel de nata por favor”) or a cimbalino if you are further north in your Portuguese expedition.


2. After your sugar and coffee morning boost, head to D. Maria’s bakery, greet D. Joaquina and buy paposecos, bolas, caralhotas, and try to learn as many different words as you can find for one of the over 100 types of breads available throughout the country.


3. As soon as you get back home, forget that you have just had breakfast and immediately start thinking about lunch. You must think about food constantly.


4. While you roam around the local grocery shop, make sure you don’t leave without onions, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.


5. While you are cooking lunch, learn to cook at least five recipes containing cod.


6. Greet all your guests and every person you are introduced to throughout your time in Portugal with two kisses. Unless you are a man. Then you will get some suspicious looks if you greet another man with two kisses… unless we are talking about your father, which is acceptable in some families.


7. During lunch get involved in heated discussions. Don’t be shy, even if it’s the first time you are meeting your guests. Voice your opinion and if you think it’s worth it, argue to your heart’s content. You can argue about politics, economy, road traffic, football management, etc. The list is never ending.


8. When you are done arguing / strongly discussing your point of view, take your guests to the coffee shop and buy them an “imperial”–draft beer. Talk and laugh as if you have known each for a long time.


9. After lunch, get a big dog, take it for a walk at the beach, and teach it how to play football.


10. Start a strong relationship with the sea. Us Portuguese love our cliffs and beaches, as much as we love sun and sand. That’s why you will notice that there is a Portuguese hibernation period during the winter, then we all come out with the spring, stay out for the summer, hold on for autumn, and disappear again as the cold weather kicks in.


11. At the esplanade order a plateful of snails and devore it quickly using a toothpick. If they are out of snails–it might be the wrong season–order a plate of lupin beans (tremoços) and eat them while watching the sunset over the sea.


12. Confidently advise any sick person you run into that chicken soup (canja de galinha) will fix all of their problems.


13. Buy your mother a figure of a saint depicted in an azulejo, or if she is not into religion you can give her a plate to decorate the house with a funny saying or a poem dedicated to mothers.


14. If you feel more Portuguese now, you can start to criticise the country. Begin with the road system and the hospitals.


15. Watch a Portuguese soap after dinner. But remember that when your friends ask you about it, you must deny you’ve ever seen it.


16. Call a friend and ask: “Vamos beber café?” (Let’s grab a coffee?). When you get to the coffee shop make sure your friend asks for a cup of tea or a Superbock while you order a Compal or a Sagres. Anything but coffee.


17. If it’s around Christmas learn how to make filhoses, coscorões, and azevias.


18. Learn a joke or two about Alentejanos. In Portugal most jokes tend to be about the people from a different region, but nothing beats jokes about people from Alentejo.


19. If you decide to go out clubbing, around 12am head to a bar, and make sure you get to the club no sooner than 2am/3am. Once you leave the club around 8am, make sure you head to the nearest food truck and order a pork sandwich (bifana) for breakfast.

This article was first published on June 29, 2015.

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