Portugal, Spain and Italy are three countries with rich culinary traditions that are known for their flavorful and delicious dishes. From succulent seafood to hearty stews and fresh pasta, these countries have many fantastic traditional dishes to offer and please every taste bud. Whether you are planning a trip or simply looking to explore new flavors, get ready to embark on a culinary journey that will take you through some of the most iconic and delicious foods in these regions!
One of Spain's most iconic dishes and an absolute must-try for anyone visiting Valencia. But what's the history behind this mouth-watering delicacy, you ask? Well, let us take you on a journey through time and taste buds.
The origins of the paella can be traced back to the 10th century when the Moors brought rice to Spain. These clever folks also introduced the technique of cooking rice over an open flame, which eventually led to the creation of the paellera, the signature wide and shallow pan used to make such dish. So, we have the Moors to thank for this deliciousness!
In the beginning, the original paella was made with rabbit, chicken, and vegetables. However, over time, the dish evolved to include seafood, which makes sense as Valencia is a coastal city. Hence, the "paella de marisco" was born and quickly became one of the most popular variations of the dish.
But why is paella so beloved in Valencia? Well, it's a staple at festivals, celebrations and the perfect dish for feeding large groups of people. Plus, it's just plain delicious! The flavors of saffron, garlic, and smoked paprika are perfectly balanced with the seafood or meat, and the rice has a unique texture that is hard to replicate. We challenge you to try the paella and fall in love with it! Whether you prefer the traditional recipe or a modern twist, the paella is a dish that everyone should try at least once in their life.
We can agree that the history of the paella is a fascinating one, rooted in the culture and cuisine of Valencia. And if you're ever lucky enough to visit this beautiful city, make sure to indulge in a plate (or two) of this iconic dish!
What is the most perfect and flavorful sauce to elevate a dish? When it comes to Italian cuisine, there's one sauce that stands out among the rest – pesto. This aromatic green sauce has its roots firmly planted in the beautiful region of Liguria and is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the flavors of Italian cuisine. The origins of pesto date back to the ancient Roman era, when a similar sauce made with garlic and cheese was popular. However, it was only in the 16th century that the modern-day version of pesto came to be. At the time, Liguria was a prominent port and trading center, so the abundance of ingredients from the region's fertile soil made it a hub for culinary creativity.
Pesto's classic recipe includes fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, which are pounded together in a mortar and pestle to create this fragrant and full of flavor sauce. The word pesto comes from the Italian word "pestare", which means to pound or crush, which is exactly how this sauce is made – with lots of love and elbow grease!
What makes pesto so special is the freshness of its ingredients. The basil used in the sauce is usually picked straight from the garden, and the garlic is freshly minced, giving it a bright and vibrant flavor that's hard to resist. The addition of pine nuts and Parmesan cheese provides a nutty and salty kick that balances out the sauce's herbaceous notes.
This combination of fresh ingredients provides a range of health benefits, from boosting immunity to promoting healthy digestion. Furthermore, pesto is an incredibly versatile sauce. You can use it as a sauce for pasta, pizza, and even meat dishes. It can be a marinade for chicken, a dip for bread, or even as a spread for sandwiches - the possibilities are endless!
Francesinha is a beloved icon of Portuguese cuisine, with its origins deeply rooted in the city of Porto.
It is said that Francesinha, which translates to "little French girl", was created in the 1950s by a Portuguese emigrant – Daniel David Silva - who returned home after living in France for several years. He wanted to create a sandwich that combined the best of both worlds – the French croque-monsieur and the American cheeseburger. The result is a towering sandwich made with layers of bread, ham, linguiça (Portuguese sausage), steak and melted cheese, all drenched in a flavorful beer-based sauce. It's then topped with a fried egg and served with a side of fries.
We can agree that the feature that stands out the most in a Francesinha is the sauce, which is made with beer, tomato, and spices and is simmered for hours to develop its rich and complex flavor. It's poured generously over the sandwich, soaking into the bread and infusing every bite with its deliciousness.
This dish is a beloved meal in Porto and it’s possible to find it on almost every restaurant menu in the city. In fact, there's even a yearly competition to crown the best Francesinha in Porto, with restaurants from all over the city competing for the title. We can surely say that the Francesinha is a true representation of the city's culinary traditions and a must-try for anyone looking to explore the flavors of Portugal!
Before, pizza was a simple dish made with bread, cheese and herbs. But it was the addition of tomatoes in the 18th century that transformed the Neapolitan Pizza into the delicious and iconic dish known and loved all over planet Earth nowadays.
The classic pizza is made with a thin and crispy crust, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. The toppings are kept simple, with just a few ingredients that complement each other perfectly. The Neapolitan version is usually baked in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures, resulting in a perfect balance of crispy crust and melty cheese.
It is known that the secret to cook a really tasty pizza is highly linked to the recipe of the dough used as its base. But it’s fair to say that what makes Neapolitan pizza so special is its simplicity. It's a dish that often relies on high-quality ingredients and expert technique to create something truly delicious. A dish that's meant to be shared with friends and family, enjoyed over a few glasses of wine or beer!
Cataplana de Marisco
This delicious seafood dish hails from the beautiful region of Algarve and has been a staple of its culinary tradition for centuries. With its unique combination of fresh seafood, vegetables and spices, this dish is a must-try for anyone visiting Portugal.
There was a time when the Moors ruled over the Iberian Peninsula. During their reign, the Moors introduced the Cataplana, a distinctive cooking vessel made of copper, which they used to cook their traditional stews. Later, the Portuguese adopted this cooking method and adapted it to their own cuisine, hence creating the iconic Cataplana de Marisco that exists today. The dish translates to a seafood lover's dream, usually containing a delicious mix of shrimp, clams, mussels and other shellfish, as well as onions, garlic, tomatoes and peppers. The ingredients are layered inside the Cataplana, which is then sealed and cooked over an open flame. The result is a rich and flavorful stew that is both hearty and satisfying.
The Cataplana de Marisco is often associated with the Algarve region, which is renowned for its fresh seafood and beautiful coastline. The region's long history of fishing and seafaring has led to the development of a unique culinary tradition that celebrates the bounty of the sea. The Cataplana de Marisco is a perfect example of this tradition, combining the freshest seafood with local ingredients and spices to create a delicious and authentic dish. Whether you're a seafood lover or simply looking to explore the local cuisine, this dish is an unmissable experience!
This succulent roast pork, with its crispy skin and tender meat, has its origins in the historic city of Segóvia. The history of Cochinillo dates back to the Roman times when the city was an important military outpost. The soldiers stationed in the area would roast piglets over open fires, giving rise to the tradition of Cochinillo. Over time, the dish became popular throughout the region and is now considered one of the most iconic dishes of Spanish cuisine.
Cochinillo is made with a simple suckling pig, which is roasted in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures, resulting in a brittle skin and juicy, tender meat. The dish is typically served with a simple garnish of salt and lemon, allowing the flavors of the meat to shine through.
The city of Segóvia is inextricably linked with Cochinillo and there are numerous restaurants in the city that specialize in this mouth-watering dish. Many of these restaurants have been in operation for many years and their chefs have leveled the art of roasting Cochinillo to perfection. If you're visiting Spain, then a trip to Segóvia would only be complete if you try Cochinillo. The dish is an indispensable culinary experience and its flavors will leave you wanting more!
Ragu alla Bolognese
If you're a fan of Italian cuisine, you've undoubtedly heard of Ragu alla Bolognese. Since its origins, this hearty meat-based sauce has become a beloved staple of Italian cuisine around the world.
History says that this sauce was first created in Bologna, Italy, back in the 18th century. At the time, meat was considered a luxury ingredient and the sauce was reserved for special occasions. Later on, the recipe evolved, with the addition of tomatoes and other ingredients that are now commonly associated with the sauce.
The traditional Ragu alla Bolognese is made with a mixture of ground beef and pork, cooked slowly with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. The sauce is then seasoned with herbs and spices, including oregano, basil, and bay leaves, and is typically served over pasta. The result is a rich and satisfying dish that is perfect for a comforting family meal or a special occasion!
Pulpo a Feira
The history of Pulpo a Feira dates back to the mid-19th century, where it was first served at fairs and markets throughout Galicia. Octopus was a popular ingredient in the region due to its abundance in the nearby Atlantic Ocean, and the dish quickly became a local favorite. Pulpo a Feira is traditionally cooked in copper pots and served on wooden plates, and it is seasoned with just a few simple ingredients, including olive oil, sea salt, and paprika. The octopus is cooked to perfection, with a tender texture and a delicious flavor that is sure to impress even the most discerning seafood lovers!
The dish is an integral part of the cultural identity of Galicia and it is often enjoyed with a side of traditional Galician bread and a glass of crisp white wine. Its history, the simple yet flavorful ingredients and its cultural significance make it an iconic dish that is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.
So, whether you're traveling to Galicia or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, be sure to give Pulpo a Feira a try and experience the delicious flavors of this beloved dish.
Arroz de Pato
This delicious duck and rice dish originates from the region of Alentejo. This hearty and flavorful dish is a must-try for anyone visiting the region or looking to explore new and exciting culinary experiences. Its history dates back to the traditional rural cuisine of Alentejo, where ducks were often raised and used in local dishes.
Arroz de Pato typically includes tender pieces of duck meat, combined with rice that has been cooked in a rich and flavorful broth. It is typically seasoned with garlic, onion, and herbs like parsley and bay leaves, which gives the dish a delicious and aromatic flavor. The rice is cooked until it is fluffy and perfectly tender, with the flavors of the duck and broth infusing every bite.
The dish is often served in a clay pot, which helps to keep it warm and adds to the rustic charm of the dish. It is a hearty and filling meal that is perfect for a cozy family dinner or a special occasion.
If you have a sweet tooth
Are you a fan of sweet, indulgent pastries?
Then you'll definitely want to try the iconic Pastéis de Belém from Portugal. These delicious egg custard tarts have been a staple of Portuguese cuisine for over 200 years! The recipe was kept a closely guarded secret by the monks for many years before it was eventually sold to the owners of the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery, where it remains a secret to this day.
The Turrón de Alicante, on the other hand, is a Spanish specialty that dates back to the Middle Ages. Made with almonds, honey and egg whites, this sweet treat is a symbol of Alicante's rich culinary history. The city is known for its production of high-quality almonds and the turrón de Alicante is a delicious way to showcase the region's bounty.
Finally, the cannoli of Sicily are a beloved Italian pastry that have become popular all over the world. These sweet, crispy shells are filled with a creamy ricotta filling and often feature a variety of toppings, such as pistachios, chocolate chips or candied fruit. The history of the cannoli can be traced back to the Arab influence in Sicily during the Middle Ages and it remains a beloved symbol of Sicilian cuisine to this day.
All three of these pastries are must-try treats for anyone who loves to indulge in sweets. Whether you're a fan of custard tarts, nutty confections, or creamy ricotta-filled cannoli, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
These pastries represent the rich culinary traditions of their respective regions, and they offer a delicious glimpse into the history and culture of Portugal, Spain and Italy!