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A Food experience across the border in Porto, Portugal by Jonathon Lipsin


Today I was taken by my friends here in Porto, Portugal to a working man's restaurant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It is by a river with big trees not unlike those in California looming outside the windows of a industrial style, huge dining room, There is wood fired oven and long banquet type tables all with dishes set upside down as is the custom here.

True enough, clumps of working people huddled down at disparate distances in the dining room over mysterious bowls and plates of steaming food.

A basket of homemade bread still warm is set on the table and is delicious and nutty and dense and proves a great complement to the ubiquitous bowl of olives present everywhere in Portugal.

A plate of homemade chorizo, mysteriously black (black pudding/blood sausage?) and a type of sausage appeared and I declared it the most delicious I had ever tasted.

I am in the hands of my friends so I let them order and what comes is a tripas (tripe) dish without the tripe. Tripas à moda do Porto (Porto Tripe) is that unique dish to Porto that I had once before. It is the guts and intestines of the animals and cooked in a stew with beans and other meats like chicken and pig.

“The Infante D. Henrique, needing to supply the ships for the Ceuta military expedition commanded by King John I in 1415, asked the inhabitants of the city of Porto for all kinds of food. All the meats in the city were cleaned, salted and layered in the vessels, leaving the population with only sacrificed offal eat, including the guts. It was with these that the Portuguese had to invent food alternatives, thus resulting in the dish Tripas à moda do Porto (Porto Tripe)”

Thankfully this dish came without the guts which I will forever forego and instead came with chunks of boiled beef. This resembled what I know as cholent ,the unique Jewish dish we eat sometimes on Shabbat.

The tripas without the guts dish hails from Tras O Monte, the ancient Jewish area where Jews lived before the Inquisition in peace until all hell broke out.

My dear friend here hails from that region and has Jewish origins.

The other dish ordered was chicken and rice mixed with chicken blood.

Portugal cuisine is not for the faint of heart and because I am the intrepid traveller I feel I must indulge in everything without reserve.

The other day on my wanderings in the city I came upon a menu where I spied grilled groundhog. Right there I drew the line but when I went back to my friend voicing my incredulity at their eating habits she readily and laughingly told me it is the name of an eel like fish which is served with it's tail in it's mouth. I decided to pass on that also.

The chicken boiled in a soupy stew and mixed with the dirty rice was delicious, chicken blood not withstanding…..

We drank a bottle of vinho verde (green wine), a typical wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. This is a sharp, fresh wine one can usually only drink a glass of and helps with digestion.

The end of meal was French pudding (possibly a type of pasteis de nata), made with 12 eggs and Oporto wine. Which was delicious.

We finished off with a “um café” (standard black espresso) and a homemade grape spirit with honey which was on the house. This last drink blew the roof off my head as I relaxed in the languor of a fine meal……

Various types of meat, lamb, veal, pork, steaks etc are also available from the wood fire oven.

The total was about 15 dollars each

Words © Jonathon Lipsin.

If you wish to read more about Jonathon's travels and adventure's please go to his constantly updated blog at www.jonathondlipsin.com

You can find Jonathon's Formentera adventures here here Formentera


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