One of the things I was looking forward to most before embarking on this adventure was sampling the cuisine from around the world. Eating my way across the planet was a priority for me. I love food. I love it in my mouth.
But it is with a heavy heart that I must report that, so far, the food has been quite disappointing. We’ve only been to Portugal so far but I’ve only managed to have one good meal. It was a tasty charcuterie and some prawns in garlic and butter (washed down with a bottle of 3 Euro white wine). Nothing we couldn’t have made back home, but tasty nonetheless. The rest have ranged from mediocre to pretty bad. And I’m not just talking about the tourist traps that have gross looking photos of the food on the menus. It seems to be quite ubiquitous. Nothing seems fresh. It’s all frozen, pre-fab, processed stale crap. I am quite amazed that a country that has such a long and storied history such as Portugal didn’t develop any kind of renowned cuisine. Granted, I haven’t tried the grilled sardines – and I won’t – but even restaurants with good reviews come up wanting. Do I need greasy, frozen french fries and instant rice with my grey chewy pork-like product? And vegetables? I haven’t seen a vegetable in over a week. I think I may have scurvy.
Sandwiches, or toasts, are big here as well. But really, would it fucking kill you to put some mustard on that suckling-pig toast? Or maybe a little mayo on that cold, greasy battered chicken sandwich? Even a little butter to act as a lubricant would be welcome. Maybe I should open up a sandwich joint here?
The one thing that they do pretty well is coffee, bread and baked goods. It seems that you can’t swing a dead cat (an over-cooked, under-seasoned dead cat with a side of greasy, pre-fab fries) without hitting a Pastelaria chock full of sweet tasty things.
Don’t know what these are but I’m sure they’re full of delicious diabetes.
I’ve eaten my weight in these things. Please no more.
As a good friend of mine astutely mentioned, “The myth of great European food is just a fantasy dreamed up by North Americans. At least the bad food in Portugal is cheap, wait until you get to France”. We’re off to Spain in a week and I’m hoping that hitting some eating holes there changes my opinion. I’ve heard great things. Keeping my fingers and tongue crossed.
But apart from the food, almost everything else has been quite amazing. I love the architecture – we’re in a nice town called Coimbra at the moment – and the prices are good. The people maybe smoke too much and drive too fast and seem a little gruff, but it’s hard to complain when your surroundings look like this…
Look at that thing over there, son. That there is some history!
And they do have a giant bear made of Astro Turf. So they have that going for them….
I included one German woman for scale.