Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Portuguese and Italian cuisine? Though they are similar in some ways, they also have some differences as well. The national dish of Portugal is “bacalhau,” which is dried, salted cod. During the 15th century off of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the English would salt and dry cod for preservation. There wasn’t much of a market for the fish in England, so the English looked elsewhere and began to barter with the Portuguese. Since the fish was dried and salted they were able to transport it on their long journey back to Portugal. Both Portuguese and Italian food rely heavily on seafood as the Iberian Peninsula is surrounded by water on 3 sides. The Bay of Biscay to the North, The Atlantic Ocean to the West, The Alboran Sea to the South and the Balearic Sea to the Southeast.
Both diets are rich in fresh, seasonal and locally available ingredients, accompanied by excellent local wines. Gourmet olive oils abound, along with a huge choice of chouriço and excellent local cheeses. Italian tapas are mirrored by the Portuguese petiscos, which are small plates of individual dishes, often served in bars as an accompaniment to your drinks. They include a wide range of meat, fish and other delicacies.
A distinct difference between Italian and Portuguese foods lies in the spices they use. Portuguese cuisine as well as Italian is regional and originates from peasant food, foods that are filling, hearty and inexpensive to prepare. Both countries’ diets have a heavy focus on seafood, with squid and shellfish dishes in abundance. Portugal’s love of bacalhau (salted cod fish) far overshadows that of its Italian neighbour, with a reputed 365 ways of serving bacalhau available in Portugal.
In both countries tomato and bean-based stews are common, although in modern times this is more in evidence in the Portuguese diet than the Italian. Despite the similarities, the two countries’ cuisines are each distinctly their own, with ingredients prepared in different ways and using a different herb/spice palette.
Which do you prefer – Italian food or Portuguese food?