Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice


My Personal Portugal A to Z 11

Posted on January 18, 2012 by Ben Algarve

This week, I am pleased to be joining in with a rather fun blogging project, started off by Julie Dawn Fox at her own Portugal blog.

The idea for this leads on from the personal A-Z that some of us created after being awarded the Awesome Blog Content award earlier this month. Julie suggested it might be fun to each do a personal “A to Z of Portugal.” Several bloggers have joined in from various countries, and I am pleased to be getting involved myself.

My Personal A to Z of Portugal

My Personal A to Z of Portugal

As I tend to post on a weekly basis, I am doing to do a few letters at a time, and intersperse them with my regular posts. So, as a starting point, this week, I present you with letters A to C of my personal A to Z of Portugal.

A is for Aguardente.

Every country seems to have its own firewater-style spirit – the bottle that gets brought out at the end of a big meal. Greece has ouzo, Italy has grappa, and Denmark has aquavit. Portugal has aguardente.

Although this is a personal A-Z, I have to admit I am not a fan of this beverage. One shot has the raw power to change the course of an evening; any more than that can write off the following day as well!

We purchased a bottle of aguardente when we moved here, the rationale behind it being nothing more than “when in Rome.” Well, over two years on, I can confirm that all we have used the bottle for is to flame cook chorizo (a common use for aguardente), and to attempt to draw ticks out of my mother-in-law’s dog.

Interestingly, you do sometimes see some very posh looking, expensive aguardente on the shelves around Christmas time, so perhaps there are versions that don’t look and smell like paint stripper. So far though, we have yet to try them….

B is for Barbecue

I was talking about looking forward to BBQs on the terrace as far back as my sixth ever post on this blog, long before I even moved here.

We adore BBQs, and put a lot of effort into them. We are no strangers to butterflying a leg of lamb, or spatch-cocking a chicken and basting it with beer as it sizzles.

BBQ in Portugal

BBQ in Portugal

Sadly our time in London was never barbecue-friendly. When we eventually moved to a house that had outside space, our snooty elderly neighbour complained about “cooking smells” and slammed her windows shut whenever she so much as caught a glimpse of the grill. In the end, we just didn’t bother.

In the days before we got here, thoughts of sunny barbecues got us through the 16 hour days and the moving stress….and even years on the novelty hasn’t worn off. We barbecue at least weekly, all year round. Home made sauces, woodchips, bastes, dressings, even chickens upended on beer cans. Portugal and BBQs, for us, go hand in hand. We’re even having one tonight!

C is for Coffee

I never really drank coffee before I moved to Portugal, but the lure of a tiny, super-strong bica (espresso) has proved too

Portuguese Bica Coffee

Portuguese Bica Coffee

much to resist.

I probably only have two or three each week – after meals out, and always after our market shop on a Saturday morning. It’s a wonderful little ritual, and a super-cheap luxury, rarely costing more than about 60cents.

Insiders Tip: Portuguese bicas are also sufficiently strong to completely cancel out that final glass of wine that you never should have had during the meal!

IMAGE CREDIT: Ricardo Benardo

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