Countries, Europe, Food

Matters of the custard tart

Romantics everywhere listen up, head for Lisbon for matters of the custard tart.

Well, they do say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and the Portuguese speciality is likely to go right to it.

We have the monks of the Hieronymites Monastery in the parish of Saint Mary of Bethlehem to thank for our pasteis de nata.

The monks using the left-over yokes from their eggs for the pastry delicacy having used the whites to starch their habits.

On such good husbandry did Portugal earn its stripes in the bakery world.

Phallic baking

Top tip: The phallic sweet treats

Though they do do a roaring trade in a line of pastry penises (or doces falicos) or cakes (bolos).

Not made of course by mucky monks.

But a matchmaking priest from the 13th century called Sao Goncalo, or Saint Gonzalo.

Whether God had blessed him handsomely in the phallic department has been lost to history.

But the good people of his town Amarante at the western mouth of the Douro valley, celebrate him thus with these delicacies.

Twice a year… in January and the first week of June.

The pastries are given as gifts at the start of the year.

So that the recipient will have a fertile year.

And again around his saint’s day in the first week in June.

With a procession, fireworks, penis bunting, fetching penis deely-boppers and a lot of pastry penis gifts to single women.

Capital cooking

Obrigado: With the Scary One in Portugal Centro

All of which cake miscellany which I discovered along the way in Secret Portugal is just by way of getting into the spirit of Valentine’s Day early.

Which the European-based yacht charter group Catamaran Charter Croatia (no us neither) have also shown a particular interest in.

Catamaran Charter Croatia looked at each capital city in Europe.

By analysing Trip Advisor data on the number of romantic restaurants and hotels per million people in each city.

And yes, that’s right, Lisbon came out on top.

Side dishes

Dutch of class: Amsterdam Middle Eastern fare

All of which will come as a severe blow to the French who still insist they invented cooking.

And who come in second (Paris) and third (Monaco).

While the Italians who treat food with suitably less reverence and more fun have San Marino in fourth and Rome fifth.

Andorra is more than budget skiing (who knew?) and places sixth.

While look beyond their crepes (delicious though they are) and Amsterdam, in seventh, boasts eclectic Middle Eastern fare.

Athens, with its table-long banquets would turn even the most carniverous vegetarian.

While if your idea of food heaven is mixing two of three great pleasures in life then ninth-placed Prague with its beer soups is well super.

And if you’ve got money to burn then Reykjavik, in tenth, may be worth stretching the budget a bit.

The Five ‘Fs’

Fin and games: Portuguese love their fish

But it’s Portugal that’s tops, the land of the 5 Fs.

And you thought it was three… Football, Fado and Fatima but add to that Fish and Fertility fare.

And remember too to head for Lisbon for matters of the custard tart.


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