Growing up as a Portuguese kid has its tough moments. Telling the other kids that you’ve eaten pig ear? Questionable. Being asked why your house always smells like fish? Constant.
That said, growing up as a Portuguese kid has many more awesome moments than tough ones. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of soccer season, and there’s always a “cousin” around to hang out with.
The best thing about being Portuguese, however, has to be the killer snacks. Let the other kids keep their Wonder Bread – we have these instead.
1. Pastéis de Nata (Custard Tarts)
These sweet, silky, flaky tarts are the quintessential Portuguese dessert. You can always find dozens at any family gathering, and there’s no doubt that they’ll be finished by the end of the night.
2. Tremoços (Lupini Beans)
These yellow beans are salty, a little bit crunchy and 100% addictive. Mix them with olives for some extra flair, and if you’re feeling really indulgent, add some sliced garlic to the mix. As you can tell, we Portuguese are a fancy people.
#SpoonTip: There are two types of people – those who remove the skin before eating and those who don’t. The second type are never to be trusted.
It’s cute that you think Starburst is the original, but Sugus did it thirty years before – and better. These candies are slightly harder than their American counterpart and come in cool flavours like ananas (pineapple) or classic ones like morango (strawberry) and laranja (orange).
4. Línguas de Gato (Cat Tongues)
Before you gag, these aren’t actual cat tongues. They’re small, crunchy cookies that can range in flavour from warm cinnamon spice to a slight hint of vanilla.
If you never walked around pretending to be a cat with one of these hanging from your mouth, you never experienced true childhood.
Traditionally, this sugar and food colouring “confetti” was thrown at the bride after a wedding (much like Americans throw rice or blow bubbles). Afterward, the children would pick them up off of the ground and eat them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
6. Rissóis de Camarão (Shrimp Patties)
The word “patty” doesn’t do these justice. Imagine a crispy breadcrumb exterior with a creamy, flavourful shrimp filling. These “appetizers” are low-key the reason everyone is half-full by dinnertime.
7. Sombrinhas de Chocolate (Chocolate Umbrellas)
The only thing better than chocolate? Chocolate in fun shapes. From the colourful paper wrapper to the hooked stick that serves as a keepsake long after the chocolate has disappeared, there’s no treat better than these chocolate umbrellas.
8. Arroz Doce (Sweet Rice)
Despite the similar translation, I can’t emphasize enough how different this is from classic American rice pudding. From boiling the rice in milk – never water – to that secret ingredient shared by all Portuguese matriarchs, this creamy dessert is one of a kind.
#SpoonTip: Don’t bring it anywhere without a fancy cinnamon design on top unless you want to be publicly shamed.
9. Bolos de Bacalhau (Codfish Croquettes)
If there’s one food you associate with Portugal, it should be codfish. As a Portuguese kid, walking into your house to see a huge dried fish tail sticking out of a basin of water is something that causes more excitement than surprise – especially when you know that these delicious fish and potato croquettes will come out of it.
10. Pão de Ló (Sponge Cake)
Okay, so technically it translates to “sponge bread,” but that doesn’t sound nearly as good. This yellow cake somehow manages to be both dense and filling and light and airy. That sounds like a miracle to me, which would explain why it’s typically served with sparkling wine or champagne at Easter.
Not into alcohol? Try it with a warm galão.
You haven’t witnessed true excitement until you’ve seen a group of young children scream with joy as their tia pulls a bottle of Sumol from the fridge like a magical, wish-granting fairy. That same bottle of soda? Guaranteed to be empty in five minutes or less.
The best thing about these candy-coated chocolates? The plastic tube they come in. It could hold anything – even the stick from that chocolate umbrella you ate earlier.