My Personal Portugal A to Z

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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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11 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. What a great start to your Personal A-Z. I’m glad you feel that way about aguardente – I agree it’s best used for cooking chorizo. Never heard of the ticks trick though but I’m not about to buy a bottle just to try it out 🙂

  2. You mentioning your next door neighbours reaction to you having a BBQ in London reminded me of when we came out the first time to our house after buying it in 2007. Our Portuguese neighbours were barbecuing sardines outside one of our downstairs bedrooms window (I think they must have been doing it for many months whilst the house was on the market as there were tell tale signs on the road). Anyway, they saw me in the room pulling a ‘blimey it smells of sardines in here’ face and immediately moved it to the other side of the road and have been cooking sardines there ever since. Saz

  3. Hi.

    I really liked the letter C. I am a cofee addict. I can’t pass a day without at least one after lunch.

    About Aguardente, it’s funny you mentioned it, because although I study in Évora, my official residency is Lourinhã, about 70km north of Lisbon.
    Lourinhã is one of the only 3 Demarcated Regions of Firewater in the world, alongside with Armagnac and Cognac in France. The ones you must have dunk are young, but Lourinhã one is aged in oak abou 12 year normally. So it tastes more like a Brandy. Actually, it is also used as brandy subtitute in Port wine production.
    Each bottle costs aroud 36 euros but I don’t know if it is available anywhere.

    So, if you wanna try, try the best one. Also, try it with “copo quente”,that is a preheated glass in which you put the Aguardente to dink while it is still hot.

    PS: I am sorry about my misspellings…

  4. Thanks Ben – great start – I’m not sure how we’d survive now without our daily ‘bica’
    I scratched my head for a while on how to add you to my list of posts
    then decided to just add your post three times! 🙂
    welcome to the project – Julie’s idea is really taking off now – I just offered to try to collate posts as well (might regret that offer if it keeps growing this fast! 🙂
    Don’t forget to invite us all round for a BBQ soon (wink!)

  5. Hi, I read a post on your site in February last year about Zumba classes in the Tavira area. I have just moved to Tavira and I am a qualified Zumba instructor, I have 2 classes running at the moment and trying to build up a client base. Both men and women are welcome so if you want to come along, classes are Wednesday 11am Quinta Fonte Do Bispo, Thursday 7pm Vila Gale Hotel. I am looking at starting classes in Cabanas within a week or so too, once I get a location sorted out. Would be great to see you there!


  6. Welcome to the challenge!
    My hubby is a great fan of Aguadente. It’s interesting to learn more about it!

  7. I don´t drink Aguardente either, much too strong for me! But I try mixing a teaspoon of Aguardente in a bowl of chocolate mousse and it´s just divine!!
    Welcome to the A-Z challenge!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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