How many times can we repeat that one of our favorite aspects of travel is sampling new food? It seems like we aren’t the only ones given the complete obsession in America with global food. From Anthony Bourdain to the food network, American’s are obsessed with bringing a taste of their vacation or their dream travels home to their dinner table. We are really no different. From the unusual ingredients we saw hanging in markets in Asia to the easily recognizable beans and potatoes sitting in baskets across the Americas, we try to incorporate our favorite dishes or ingredients from our travels into our everyday life.
Guidebooks always tell you what the “staple” dish of a place is, but sometimes more interesting than the ingredients is the history of the dish. Sometimes you can get this from a recipe book, but better yet, get it from actually going to the place where the dish originated. We love the history of food, for it’s really the history of human exploration. Given that globalization started happening centuries ago, it’s not hard to draw similarities between the dishes of exploration centers like Portugal and far flung ports in Mozambique or Brazil. Enter one of the best examples of Portugal’s dominance in world exploration- the simple, yet delicious feijoada.
Feijoada is one of those “traditional” dishes that calls multiple countries, separated by a vast ocean, home. Originally from Portugal, Feijoada is a bean, beef and pork stew that we saw in Brazil, Mozambique and pretty much anywhere we traveled along a coastline that the Portuguese had explored. The Brazilians in fact, call it their national dish. Why? Well, like so many of the “great” dishes of a culture or region it’s simple, homemade food. Although you can find it at the best restaurants and although you can find it at any Portugal hotel or restaurant, it’s a dish beloved by many and found in all levels of Portuguese cuisine. There’s nothing pretentious in feijoada, just beans, pork and oh let’s say the most delicious mix of spices you’ve ever had. Think of it like a Sunday supper meal that stews all day. The name, feijoada actually comes from the Portguese word for beans – feijao.
Although I love anything that has the word “stew” in it, for me the most interesting aspect of feijoada is its long history. Just as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, Portuguese families still make this dish, albeit with certain variants for a delicious weekend supper. Food made at home and meant to be consumed family style is the best, especially for those travelers looking to get a taste of regional flavor and take it home with them.
Maybe on our next trip through the Iberian Peninsula we’ll make a tour of feijoada….who’s with me?
Photo Credit: Shared via a creative commons license from flickr user Fotos Gov/Ba.