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Petiscos, the Portuguese Tapas

Somebody contacted us and said ‘what is this thing you keep talking about your site, Petiscos?’ So I decided it was time to write about a typical part Portuguese gastronomic culture that is very traditional and a common thing to eat in Portugal, Petiscos!

The Petisco or petiscos is a gastronomical habit that has its roots in all of the Iberian peninsula, but it’s better known by it’s Spanish name Tapas!

Translated the tapa and the petisco means a delicatessen or a snack, a ‘small’ thing prepared and cooked in a special way that concentrates more or quality than quantity.

Soon on Go Discover Portugal, the best Wine – Tapas – petisco bars in Portugal!

PetiscosBoth Tapas and Petiscos are the same and they’re Iberian delicatessen. Special little snacks that accompany drinks or make small tasty light meals or large meals made of small tasty snacks.

Petiscos are a large and integral part of Portugese gastronomy and traditions, just as tapas are for Spain with one main difference Tapas have become internationally known worldwide and are served worldwide, often in trendy tapasbars specialized in Tapas and Spanish wines. Petiscos are still found mainly in Portugal and most people abroad unfamiliar with the Portuguese culture have never heard of them.

PetiscosPetiscos are often ordered as a social food in the many bars and restaurants that serve them. Many people share a Petisco or various Petiscos and share them with the people they are with, they are generally accompanied by bread or toast and eaten to accompany a good glass of wine or a Portuguese beer and they are all about taste, freshness and quality.

Even-though they are generally considered social food, you will also find people eating them in bar’s alone to accompany a drink
Generally petiscos are enjoyed on sunny, free afternoons, at night or as a replacement for dinner and sometimes lunch.

Petiscos just like tapas are regional they vary depending on which part of the country you’re in and you’ll also find more touristy places or trendy places that are less local but very good in quality that offer petiscos from all over Portugal and sometimes may even include Spanish tapas in their menu.

If you want to go local and have the ‘local’ experience don’t order a Petisco at lunch because that’s when Portuguese people have 3 course meals and the more traditional restaurants are busy cooking them but but order them at night. Many places do offer petiscos as an alternative to lunch nowadays but it’s always good to ask or go to a place or bar that specifically offers petiscos. Some places don’t offer lunch they just have petiscos, beer, wine and other drinks.

Petisqueira is a modern word for a Petisco bar much like the Tapasbar became a modern term for bars that offer Tapas at all times or when there open. in a petisqueira you can count on Petiscos at any time of the day but it’s not a local or traditional thing to eat them at any time.

PetiscosTypically Portuguese is to get up early have a small coffee (bica in Lisbon or just coffee in most other places which is equivalent to an Italian expresso accompanied by a sweet pastry) than you stop whatever your doing at 12 or 13.oo pm an have a large lunch consisting of 3 courses (soup, main dish and dessert accompanied by wine or beveradge and a bica or small coffee to finish sometimes on weekends accompanied by ‘something stronger’)
At night it could be just a Petisco or a group of Petiscos with a group of friends.
In the weekend it could be Petiscos at any time of the day between meals or to replace a meal.
Until now everything is actually the way a Spanish will eat a Tapas.

Petiscos are only different to Tapas in it’s regionality close to the sea you’ll find mostly sea-food Petiscos, fish in many style, dried, soured, fried, stewed and the odd sausage more inland you’ll find many types of sausages, beans, cheeses and the odd fish mostly soured or salted and dried. In the modern Petisco bar you’ll find a good selection of all!

Some examples of Petiscos Caracóis à portuguesa – Portuguese snails, Paté de atum – Tuna paste,
Amêijoas (shells cooked in variation styles), cod pataniscas, Octopus and squid dishes, Chorizo sausages, farinheira sausages, regional cheeses often hand made and many, many more.

Garlic and or coriander are often found in Petiscos, so are olive oil and vinegar or lemon, sausages are mixed with many herbs and varied form the Portuguese Chorizo to the typical Farineira
Cheeses range from the very special Serra de estrela cheeses to local village cheeses

Spain is famous for it’s Tapas, Rioja and bull fights and it’s a country I love! It’s big, has many landscapes, it’s magical historical, adventurous and natural, it’s huge, diverse and dynamic. Portugal has much of the same but on a much smaller scale with a faster changing landscape and a wilder ocean, it’s greener, cooler and closer to the Atlantic ocean – they share a large part of history but have been divided to long to not have one that is completely independent of the other but
they are both part of Iberia and share much of one mixed historical culture that was divided in many ways but has many habits that haved stayed historically linked.
Portugal was Iberia’s port to the atlantic ocean and the great unknown that lay beyond.

Portugal has it’s own unique landscapes, wines, and since 1148 it’s own history it’s own way of bull fighting and it’s own Tapas or as they call them Petiscos! Enjoy!!

Some of our favourite Petiscos are Amejoa (shells cooked in various styles), Shrimps or Camarao fried in garlic, Octopus either fried with garlic or stewed in vinegar…………..

Find Petiscos bars and restaurants on our site (shortly)

read more in Portugal magazine!

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