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fd-Portugal-msg – 3/12/14


Food of medieval Portugal. References.


NOTE: See also the files: fd-Spain-msg, fd-Morocco-msg, Spain-msg, Moors-msg, Guisados1-art, saffron-msg, saffron-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Sat, 05 Mar 2005 10:44:36 -0600

From: Robert Downie <rdownie at mb.sympatico.ca>

Subject: 16th C Portuguese Convent Sweets documentation so far


I've been perusing the Covent Sweets books I got from Portugal, and

surfing the web in hopes of documenting them specifically.

(I've also got a couple more on order: À MESA COM LUÍS VAZ DE CAMÕES -

the romance of Portuguese cookery in the Age of Discovery & DOCE NUNCA

AMARGOU (O) - history, decoration and recipes of Portuguese sweets...

I'm not sure how much useful historical info I'll find in the second

volume, but it'll be a fun read and good modern reference anyway).


I found this in one of the Alfredo Samargo volumes:

There exists writen record of D. João II (1481-1495) ordering several

items from convents in Évora for the wedding of his son, prince D.

Afonso to the princess of Castela:

-7 arrobas of " confeites" (confits)

-5 arrobas of "tâmaras" (dates)

-50 basins of "fritos doces" (fried pastries)

-30 basins of "fartens" (sweet fruit paste wrapped in pastry, I think)

(an arroba is equal to 14.688 KG)


The author goes on to say that D. Manuel I (crowned in 1495) requested 3

trays of sweets each day during his stays at the convent.

Filipe II considered the sweets of Évora and Beija to be the best he had

ever had.  Filip III  visited the various convents in Évora, where he

sampled various delicies, and in Santa Monica attended a repast where

the sweets were laid out over two tables "the size of 2 men laying down"


The bad news: no real names are specified (there are lots of different

fried pastry types, fartens may be the "fartos" referenced in the

extant15th C.Portuguese cookbook "Livro de Cozinha da Infanta D.

Maria")  The recipe section of each book has lots & lots of recipes, but

although most are conjecturally period based on ingredients, none of

them are dated specifically.  We are told which convents each recipe

originated from, and when those convents were established, but that's

it.  However, I do get hungry after scanning the recipe pages!  I'm

thinking of also going through the pastries in the 15th C. "Livro de

Cozinha" and seeing how may similar recipes I can find in the convent



My webcrawling also yeilded some interesting results:

Gaspar Frutuoso records in his "Saudades da Terra", a chronicle of the

history of the islands (Azores and Madeira), the splendors of sugarworks

in the embassy of Simão Gonçalves da Câmara to Pope Leão X in 1508 which

consisted of:


"muitos mimos e brincos da ilha de conservas, e o sacro palacio todo

feito de assucar, e os cardiais todos feitos de alfenim, dornados a

partes, o que lhes dava muita graça, e feitos de estatura de hum homem".

(many gifts and earrings (?) of the island of preserves, and the sacred

palace all made of sugar, and the cardinals all made of alfenin, gilded

in parts, and made in the stature of a man). *I'm not sure if by

"stature of a man" they mean life -sized.  If so, I'm very impressed!


This is a modern recipe, but probably unchanged from the original, which

is supposed to have originated from the Moors


1 Kg sugar

1 T white wine vinegar

buter to grease the bowl


Bring the sugar to a boil with 400 ml of water and the vinegar and let

it boil until it reaches the soft-ball stage.  Pour the syrup into a

greased metal  bowl which is placed in a larger container filled with

cold water.  As the sugar starts to set around the edges, you will need

to pull it back towards the center of the mass with a knife.  As soon as

it cools down enough to handle, start kneading it with your hands,

pulling it out and stretching it, folding it and stretching it until it

becomes very elastic, opaque and white.


Divide the paste into sections, cutting it with scissors, and work it

while it is still warm.  To keep the alfenim pieces moldable (ie not

allowing them to cool completely), keep them near the mouth of a warm

oven or the intermittent warmth of an electric radiator.

With the alfenim you can mold animals, flowers, etc.  It can also be

eaten like candies.


There are some really neat subtlety like desserts in the recipe sections

of the books that I really wish I could document to SCA period (they may

very well all be that old, I just haven't been able to document them yet):

-Pombinhas de Alcorce e Caroços de Alcorce ( little doves and peach pits

form Alcorce)

-Lampreia de Ovos (lamprey of eggs)

-Peixes (faux fish)

-Sardinhas Albardadas (faux egg fried sardines)

-Nuvens do Ceu (clouds from the sky)


and there are so many others that just look so tasty, and all have

_conjecturally_ period ingredients... sigh, so close and yet so far...





Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 22:02:13 -0500

From: Robert Downie <rdownie at mb.sympatico.ca>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] More Translations of Portuguese Food Stuff (long)

To: Medieval_Spain at yahoogroups.com, mk-cooks at midrealm.org,

SCAFoodandFeasts at yahoogroups.com, sca-cooks <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>,

ns-cooks at northshield.org


I recently picked up a copy  of _À Mesa Com Luís Vaz de Camões _  o

romance da cozinha no Portugal das Descobertas (At the Table With Luís

Vaz de Camões - the romance of cuisine in Portugal during the Age of

Discovery).  Since at this point we only know of the one extant medieval

Portruguese cookbook (Livro de Cozinha da Infanta D. Maria), I though

this book may provide other literary references for Portuguese food in

the Renaissance period.  I was quickly skimming through some of the

chapters, and  this section dealing with food evolution through cultural

exchange caught my eye.  I have tried to translate it as directly as

possible (and add explanatory comments where I could), my apologies in

advance if the language sounds somewhat stilted as a result.




Excerpt from the beginning of Chapter XIII "O poema da barriga vazia"

(the poem of the empty belly)


Comparisons between the novelties found, and those that were already

known from the homeland or other destinations already visited, are

always present in the descriptions of the travelers, whether Portuguese

or foreign.  An example of this is illustrated in a letter written from

Goa by Thomas Stevens:


"I have not yet seen here a tree similar to those I have seen in Europe,

with the exception of grapevines, which here are useless, since all

wines come from Portugal."


Also curious are the references of Álvaro Velho, witness to the arrival

of Vasco da Gama to India.  In his Guide, "jacas" (jack-fruit?) are

compared to melons <<except that outside they are crispy, but inside

they are sweet>>, and bananas to figs, which <<taste very good>>.  To

melons he also compares coconuts of Moçambique, <<the interior pulp is

what is eaten and tastes like "junça aveladada" (the footnote says:

there are those who disagree with this interpretation, nevertheless, the

taste of junça avelanada, Cyperus esculentus, well know to the

Portuguese of the time, and from which was made a whitish beverage, with

a hazelnut-like flavour, appears to indicate this direction.)


[I looked up Cyperus esculentus.  It is modernly listed as yellow

nutsedge, a North American problem weed, which doesn't sound right.  The

footnote also refers to the making of an "orchata" with this plant, but

it's definition is: 'a refreshing beverage made with seeds of cucurbita'

or 'a drink made from a decoction of barley and ground sweet almonds',

again implying this is a different modern definition of the plant in



The "Soldado Prático" (practical soldier) by Diogo do Couto, says there

he ate <<wild grapes, like the ones from Portugal, and melons like those

from Abrantes>> and even a great sage of medicine, Garcia da Horta

doesn't resist comparing  Indian products to national ones.  To him

"assa-fétida" (a resinous syrup extracted from <celery?>) is/has an

<<appetizing  bitterness, like that of  olives>> and cinnamon smells

like oregano, <but with a milder scent>>.  To refer to the cooking of

rice with coconut milk, (he) says that this <<is like rice with goat's

milk>>, and of bananas can affirm that that <<baked and placed in wine

with cinnamon on top (they) taste like baked quinces, and much better.>>


> From comparison to comparison, the Lusitanian palate begins to get used

to Asian tastes.  Raised with a taste for bread and meat, wine, sauces

of olive oil and vinegar, the Portuguese of India do not immediately

become accustomed to fish fried in butter and rice with special sauces

from the natives. Gently they begin to blend, to make culinary

symbioses.  They perfect and improvise (the dishes).


Their traditional delicacies mix with the local products.  Bastardised

recipes, of "caldo-verde" with spinach and without olive oil, or stews

[modernly caldeirada denotes a fish/seafood stew] with ginger and

tamarind exist, still today, among the Goan peoples.  The very

Lusitanian "cabidelas" of blood [stew of organ meats, necks, wings and

blood of birds] added t with tamarind, ginger and "curcuma" [a member of

the Zingiberaceae family, commercially referred to as

'saffron-of-the-Indies' - based on this definition, I suspect this is

galangal.]; "presunto" (ham), dried and salted, is seasoned with

cinnamon; tripe appears adorned with "saffron-of-the-Indies" and

tamarinds; simple "chouriços (sausages), so Christian, (now) use spices

in the manner of the orient.  In the matter of sweets emerge delicate

tidbits that are placed on par with pear pastes and traditional

marmalades, with the use of new fruits in sugar preserves: are the mango

or coconut pastes, often enhanced with eggs.  Of the confusion of those

first times, in which familiar names were adapted to living realities,

we have a similar sweet, made from bananas, which is, still today,

called "figada" [figos are figs], prepared with "figos-da-India"



The inverse also occurs, the Portuguese transmitting some of their

tastes to the natural inhabitants.  Still among sweet dishes, we may

count the original "pão-de-ló", a "bolo podre" (name of a very sweet

cake recipe- 'podre' means rotten), "pastiés de nata" (cream tarts), and

"pasties de Sta. Clara" (pastries from the convent of Saint Clara),

perhaps left by the nuns of St Monica, (who were) famous for their

sweets.  Delicacies that remain for ever rooted between the populations

of the Portuguese territories in India, demonstrating well the  ancient

influence  of Lusiadian tastes in those distant lands.  "Vinha d'alhos"

(a common Portuguese marinade) takes on the role of the primordial

example of European tastes, spreading from Goa to China and to the

Malasian Islands, finally being transported, in more recent times, to

countries like England and America, where it is known as vindaloo.

Extremely interesting is the saga of "Sarapatel" (dish of blood, liver,

kidneys, meat and heart of pork or mutton, with broth) food of humble

folk in Portugal, made with the economic organs of the animals that this

people will introduce everywhere they travel.  Sarapateis exist in Goa,

for many years supplemented with hot spices, of ginger, cinnamon and the

oriental "curcuma", the-saffron-of-the Indies [galangal?] which here

substitutes saffron of the flower.  But sarapateis are also present in

the recipe collections of Cabo Verde, Angola, Moçambique, Brasil, and

even in the more distant stops of Timor or Macau it appears, always with

natural adaptations, convenient to the palate of each nation.

Nevertheless, the most interesting (fact) is that that dish, which has

also been called"sarrabulhada", "laburdo" or "bazulaque", has returned

to our tables, now as a foreign curiosity, almost exclusively served as

an exotic specialty in Goan restaurants.


Very important, in relation to the national culinary panorama, is also

the story of one of the foods given to the sick in India, made of

<<water from cooking rice with pepper and cumin (which they call

'canje')>>, in the words of Garcia da Horta, or as he states farther

along: <<sour milk mixed with  rice and shredded chicken in the water

from this rice, (which they call 'canje')>>.  Ask any modern Portuguese

person and he will swear that canja is one of the most genuine

Portuguese foods.



Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 23:14:13 +0000 (GMT)

From: emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Livro de Cozinha (portugese)


A while ago someone mentioned a portugese cookbook.


If you go to google books, an edition, translation and introduction is online (though not for download in pdf format)


Search words: livro and cozinha in the field "title".




O "livro de Cozinha" Da Infantad D. Maria de Portugal



Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 23:21:54 +0000 (GMT)

From: emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Messisbugo 1600


At books.google there is a somewhat later edition (1600, also a 1610 edition) of Messisbugo:

Libro nuovo nel qual s'insegna il modo d'ordinar Banchetti ...





Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 19:04:57 +0200

From: Ana Valdes <agora158 at gmail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Cc: "sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] OOP - Portuguese/Brazilian cooking


I bought some books in Bahia when I was there some years ago and I have tried now to translate a bit. Jorge Amado, the Brasilian writer, born himself in Bahia, wrote down many recipes collected from the popular culture. Brasil is still a society with a very low level of literacy and many of those recipes were not written but passed on as oral heritage. Bahia became quickly the biggest harbour for slave trading in South America and the slaves took from Africa many of their staple food and many of their cooking uses.


Things such as farofa, mandioca flour, cassava, were unknown for the Portuguese, a fishing nation using cod and bacalao or sardines as base for their food.

The use of sugar was common both for Africans and Arabs, who had been ruling Portugal and Spain for centuries.


Until today the monasteries in Portugal and the Black people in Brazil make pastries and sweets with recipes from 13th century.




13 apr 2011 kl. 18:34 skrev Sam Wallace <guillaumedep at gmail.com>:

<<< Ana,


What is the source of the early Brazilian recipes you mention? I did a

Portuguese feast a few years ago and have a couple of good sources

that I will share as soon as I get home this evening. I do not recall

seeing anything from Brazil when I looked, so finding something "new"

in this region/culture would be really nice. It was interesting to me

that some of the words for ingredients used in the Portuguese texts

have changed in modern Portuguese from Portugal, but stayed the same

in Brazil.






I am not sure about the borders of the period but Brazil is an old country and the Portuguese colonized it already in the 16th century, Bahia was the first capital from 1549 to 1763. I have some recipes from the time where Bahia was newly built and the Brasilian ingredients and the Portuguese cooking started to mix. For example: vatapa is made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a creamy paste. This food is very popular in the North and Northeast, but it is more typical in the northeastern state of Bahia where it is commonly eaten with acaraj, although Vatapa is often eaten with white rice in other regions of Brazil.




<the end±>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org