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In Portugal, the western country in the continental Europe, each meal is a ceremony, a time for sharing and enjoying a pleasurable living. The meal begins with a bowl of soup. The soup is made of vegetables, those who were caught few moments ago in the kitchen garden. A soup is nothing but vegetables, water, salt and olive oil. You can strengthen it with meat or fish, pasta or rice, seafood or sausage and season with herbs and spices, for different occasions and appetites. The main dish usually contains meat or fish. It’s absolutely worth to try the meat from animals created slowly in idyllic pastures and the fish from the refreshing waters of the Atlantic. The so fresh and tasty food would be good even raw, but there are endless recipes that expertly combine flavors and tastes. The meat or fish is served with potatoes, rice, pasta, salads and vegetables, in all possible sorts of combinations. Meals should be complete and each dish is an authentic food wheel.
The desserts ... What about the conventual sweets? They are just divine, the tastable heritage from periods of abundance and pursuit of celestial perfection in the art of creating sweets. The convent sweets are made with eggs, especially the gems, and sugar. They are prepared in a series of ways with almonds, spices, lemon, milk, or other ingredients, creating different delicacies. There are also the cheeses, each region has its own specialties, made of goat’s, sheep’s or cow’s milk, soft to sliced solid, fresh or cured, with great tastes, each one is a different experience. The healthy fruit is also a wonderful dessert. The fruit flavor is still here: the apples taste like apples, the pears taste like pears, the oranges taste like oranges. Also do the cherries, the strawberries, the grapes, the figs, the loquats, the plums, the peaches, the melon, the cantaloupe, the watermelon, the mandarins, the bananas and the pineapples.
To close the repast some walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts with dried figs. A good red wine, or white, or rosé, “verde” or mature, or a different one for each moment of the meal, for every served dish is always present at a table. The meal invariably ends with a small coffee, served in a tiny cup, plain or with sugar, sometimes accompanied by a digestive like an herbal or fruit liqueur, a “água ardente” or a Porto wine.
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