I sometimes am still amazed at how long it took us to take our first trip to Portugal. We traveled all over Europe before finally venturing west enough to land in Lisbon. Since that time we continue to explore the country, mainly for Portuguese food!
The Portuguese Travel Cookbook
Nelson’s Portuguese food cookbook is not a typical cookbook. Instead, it’s a travel cookbook. It provides more than merely recipes, it tells the stories behind the recipes. It uses recipes to encourage people to not only travel to Portugal, but to explore its rich culinary history.
For such a petite country, there is a diversity of cuisine unlike many other countries. The variety of fish and seafood from the coast. The variety of sausages that are different in the cities than in the country, differing from the north to the south. Don’t get me started on the Portuguese wine.
And, Nelson is the perfect person to be a host on this culinary journey. A native of Portugal, he grew up eating his grandmother’s cooking. The first recipe of the book is his grandmother’s farmer’s soup. From there, the book continues through the sea, the land, and more to offer the best of Portuguese food heritage. All of this along with stunning photographs that certainly inspire one to travel to Portugal. This is why I was thrilled to see the book finally in print.
Cooking Portuguese Food in Bangkok
We’ve met Nelson a few times now, and we consider him a blogger friend. But, I never hated him more than when he sent us a copy of his book, to our apartment in Bangkok. If you’ve listened to our food travel podcast, you’ve heard frequent references to the size of four Bangkok apartment. It’s tiny. Only 37 square meters. We have two electric burners, which are so close together it’s almost impossible to cook two things at one time.
When it comes to finding recipes to cook, the frustration truly begins, as we try to scour various Bangkok supermarkets for ingredients. We’ve had a hard time finding simple things like beef broth or button mushrooms. There was a week where I couldn’t find a lemon.
The combination of an insufficiently supplied kitchen and an insufficiently stocked Thai supermarket means that when I receive a lovely Portuguese food cookbook in the mail, loaded with recipes for some of my favorite Portuguese foods, I immediately started to hate Nelson. Why is he tempting me like this?
There are recipes in the book for some of our favorite Portuguese foods, ones that we have eaten over our many trips to Portugal. We just can’t replicate them in Bangkok.
The book’s cataplana recipe reminded me of the cataplana we had at the home of Portuguese chef.
The acorda recipe specifies it be made with Alentejo bread and fresh coriander, like it is made in Portugal.
Alheira, a tender Portuguese sausage, became one of my favorites during our last trip wine tasting in the Douro. The Portuguese Travel Cookbook offers the history of this uniquely Portuguese dish.
What saved me from writing Nelson off of my Christmas card list, though, was that the book offers a lot more than just recipes that I can’t replicated in Bangkok. Between the photos and the stories he tells, the Portuguese Travel Cookbook brought me back to our trips to Portugal, and inspired us to travel there again next year. For that, I am ultimately thankful that Nelson sent us a copy.
For more Portuguese culinary travel inspiration, check out our Portugal food travel guide.