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Porto and northern Portugal: traditional Christmas cuisine.

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Portugal is a country blessed with a rich food tradition. Whenever family and friends gather together to celebrate, they sit around the table and share great moments and lots of great food. And when it comes to holidays, things are no different. Sitting around the table is a rule and, come Christmas time, there are a variety of dishes and desserts guaranteed to be served up in Porto and northern Portugal. Do you want to discover what is on the menu at Christmas time in northern Portugal?

In Minho, Christmas is synonymous with a table full of traditional, local dishes, with bacalhau (dried cod) taking pride of place in homes throughout the region. Although bacalhau is a favorite throughout the year in dishes such as Bacalhau à Brás and Bacalhau à Gomes Sá, at Christmas time it is served boiled with potatoes and lots of olive oil. For lunch on Christmas day, the bacalhau leftover from the night before is cooked with cabbage and garlic to make the traditional Roupa Velha. On 25th December, it is also custom to eat octopus (cooked the night before) and roast lamb, which is the main meal of the day.

When it comes to dessert, Minho’s stores are well stocked with such seasonal treats as Mexido do Natal, Bolinhos de Jerimu (made using pumpkin), Rabanadas Douradas, Leite-Crème, Pudim do Abade de Priscos and Aletria. This list is not complete, however, without the famous Bolo-Rei.

In Porto, bacalhau is also on the menu during the Christmas season and comes with a healthy serving of vegetables and lots of olive oil. Other bacalhau dishes such as Bolinhos de Bacalhau and Bacalhau com Grelos are also popular. For dessert there is guaranteed to be no shortage of traditional treats on offer, including Rabanadas, Mexido, Bolo-Rei, Sonhos, Folhós, Arroz-Doce and Aletria. This array of culinary delights also includes Doces de Bolina, fruit salad and dried fruits.

Due to the fact that many families have moved to Porto from other parts of the country, it is no surprise to find that dishes from other regions have been fused with local ones. Given that there are many families originating from Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro living in Porto, it is common to find quite a few octopus dishes being served up at Christmas, such as Cozido, Arroz de Polvo, Bolinhos de Polvo and Polvo Cozido.

The dessert menu is also full of delicious treats to try, including puddings, a variety of cheeses, port wine, and mulled wine to keep the whole family warm.

So, is your mouth watering already over the prospect of discovering the delights of traditional Christmas food in Portugal? Well, what are you waiting for? Come and discover Porto and northern Portugal… we’re only too happy to help!

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