Choosing seven culinary items from Portuguese gastronomy is like being asked who we love more: our mother or father. A jury pre-selected 70. Another smaller one, chose the 21 finalists. Now, the hardest part is up to the public: picking the seven wonders of Portuguese food.
Portugal is known for the breadth and variety of its traditional cuisine. If we take into account the size of the country, we are certainly in the upper reaches of a hypothetical first division of world gastronomy. So, it comes as no surprise that there was considerable argument and controversy when the finalists of the 7 Wonders were announced. Not so much for the ones included, but rather for those that were left out. Making a choice implies excluding, and that is an ever-painful task for any jury, especially when there is so much to choose from. One thing is sure, when the public’s seven are chosen in Santarém on 10th September, the debate will run and run. The difference is that, unlike other controversies, this will always be something positive because it demonstrates the immense gastronomic wealth Portugal possesses.
Following the same list and categories of the first 70 pre-finalists, here are my personal picks:
Starters: queijo da Serra cheese (Beira Interior) and Lamego cake (Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro).
Soup: gaspacho with fried mackerel (Alentejo) and Espírito Santo soup (Azores).
Fish: Allis shad açorda (Lisboa and Setúbal) and razor clam rice (Algarve).
Shellfish: Aljezur goose barnacles (Algarve) Bulhão Pato clams (Lisboa and Setúbal).
Meat: Mirandela alheira sausage with sautéed greens (Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro) and laurel branch beef skewers (Madeira).
Game: Alpedrinha partridge escabeche (Beira Interior) and wild rabbit pie with pine nut and raisin rice (Alentejo).
Sweets: ovos moles de Aveiro (Beira Litoral) and pão de rala (Alentejo). Google the sweets to get an idea of the egg and sugar fest!
by Miguel Pires
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