It is no news that we Portuguese people are natural foodies, born into a culture of meals which feel like rituals that last for hours.
As such, it seems only right that one of the biggest food experts, Anthony Bourdain, should come visit our hometown – Porto – one of the main hubs for Portuguese cuisine. As Bourdain finds out, “A meal here is—generally speaking, anyway—not light.”
Bourdain, an American chef with a passion for putting his tastes buds through various trials, had visited Porto before. This time however he brought his team from “Parts Unknown”, a television series which documents Bourdain’s cultural and culinary experiences all over the world.
He cramed into his three-day visit an itinerary through Porto’s star delicacies, while also exploring our culture that ranges from songs about our very own way of longing (‘saudade’) to day-long pig fests in private homes; from cheeky fishmonger women to free-spirited local teenagers diving off bridges.
As always, Bourdain used his quick wits for delivering one-liners that easily sum up the Porto gastronomic experience. Here are some quotes:
“What do you do when left with nothing but guts and hooves and odd bits? Figure out how to transform that into delicious, delicious things, of course.”
- at A Cozinha do Marinho, as he tried the typical tripe stew (Tripas à Moda do Porto).
“This crab—it’s like a Rubik’s Cube to try to figure my way into here. Ah, OK, found it.”
- at Esplanada Marisqueira A Antiga where he ate a yummy seafood tower composed of shrimp, oysters, crab, sea urchin, langoustine, gooseneck barnacles, whelks, and clams, and a salt-baked sea bass.
“Meat, cheese, fat, bread: It’s the immortal combination.”
- at Café O Afonso, where he had Porto’s most famous dish: francesinha, a complex layered sandwich that features different kinds of meat, cheese, and a special secret sauce.
“Smells like dirty feet, tastes like heaven.”
- as he tried a 'queijo da Serra' from an assortment of cheeses accompanied by Port wine, at Real Companhia Velha.
“Those of you who know me even a little bit are familiar with my unholy attraction to the mutant hot dog.”
– at Cervejaria Gazela, as he tried Porto’s version, called 'cachorro', composed of fresh sausage, cheese, bread and spicy sauce.
Of Portugal, Bourdain says:
"Portugal is a very old and very beautiful country. The Portuguese were a nation of explorers, navigators, seafarers. And their music, their culture, their cuisine, and their embrace of saudade—their word for a sense of longing and sadness and nostalgia—reflects that."
And ending his visit to Porto, he remarks:
“Everything old is new again? Maybe not. I’d come close sometimes to believing that nothing actually ever changes, that we are trapped in our destiny, hurtling or limping or being dragged towards the inevitable. That saudade refers not to a long-lost place but a long-lost time when we were all young and innocent.”
“Parts Unknown: Portugal” aired on CNN on July2nd and will air in Portugal’s 24Kitchen in August.
Content Credits: Parts Unknown ; Eater