The Flavours of Porto in the Cold Days
07 Nov, 2016, By Manuel A.
I truly feel that Porto’s flavour hasn’t changed a bit since I was a child. However, this doesn’t mean that the city’s stuck in time – on the contrary. Nevertheless, Porto’s traditional cuisine has managed to keep the wonderful and unique flavours from our past. Today I want to deconstruct the Porto’s taste and scents as the year comes to an end with the colder months.
The Porto in Autumn smells like the roast chestnuts that are sold in every street corner downtown. In autumn it feels like all the countryside is paying the city a visit. Pomegranates, pumpkins, persimmons, grapes, apples and oranges. One can taste and buy all these anywhere in the city. This is also the wine’s grand season, with farmers, producers and sellers joining in fairs to show their new products. I personally adore the autumn cuisine: the fresh new wines and all the smoked food give it a special taste; a rural one. The first rain showers touching the soil fill the air with that incredible earthy aroma that makes everything taste better.
As the colder weather crawls in, I find it more and more appealing to eat all the heavy, tasteful and spicy recipes my grandma used to cook. I recall the flavours of the potatoes, beans, cumin and specially of the pork. I guess I’m not exaggerating when I say people from my region really enjoy the taste of their pork. No wonder they call us the tripe eaters…
Then, as everyone starts to switch on all the Christmas lights, Christmas flavours invade Porto (and my childhood memories ride in again). During this special season sugar, cinnamon, and Port wine give this town a special sweet scent. Although everybody hopes not to put on weight during Christmas time, in Porto that’s virtually impossible. In every street of the downtown Porto there’s a bakery, café or grocery shop, inviting you in with its warmth and the smell of the freshly baked goods just out of the oven. That’s why every street smells as if a huge banquet is going on. Permanently! Ever since I was a kid, whenever I thought about Christmas I imagined it smelling like these cakes, pastries, nuts, codfish, and all kinds of sausages that flavour my city during this time of the year.
A big part of this rainy and grey city’s mystique comes out in the winter, when it’s cold outside but it’s warm inside, with tables full of different tastes.