If you want to make a typical Portuguese dinner, what can not be missed? It was the doubt I had and that led me to try to summarize, in a short list, 5 things that are mandatory presence in a Portuguese themed dinner.
Essential, even if the meal is a picnic, it is always necessary to have a tablecloth. And do not think that it is a habit of the elders or falling into disuse. On the contrary, the tablecloth is a central decoration item in a typical Portuguese meal.
From the classic embroidered towel or with Portuguese motifs, such as the Barcelos cock, any version is acceptable. We do not even know where they came from, it seems they magically appear to us in the kitchen drawers. But in reality it is our mothers and / or grandmothers who make sure that the stock never ends.
I know that in some countries there is no such habit and that, theoretically, a meal can be made without a napkin. But I do not really understand how such a thing is possible. In Portugal we do not know how to eat without napkins. They are as essential as the fork and if we are going to make a typical Portuguese dinner we must have napkins.
They can be made of paper, fabric, plain, ornate, it does not matter. What varies is the presentation we give them on the table: if the meal is a banal meal, the napkin is simply folded over the cutlery or on the plate. On a festive day you have to invest more in the decoration and do some folding for example. In the case of a typical Portuguese dinner for friends, placing the napkin folded diagonally into the wine glass is a nice idea.
Bread, olives and butter
They are like the appetizer of the appetizers. The bread is an obsession, the olives a consensual snack and the butter is irresistible. First of all, bread, olives and butter must appear on the table.
We usually sit at the table and devour this trio at a glance. It is common to say that we could dine only the starters, given the amount of them we can eat before the main course.
A typical Portuguese dinner does not rely on refined or special recipes. You want a dish that everyone likes, simple to make and made in great quantity. It’s the everyday food that makes the party. That’s why typical dishes are mandatory presences.
Caldo Verde, Bacalhau à Brás or Carne de porco to Alentejana are good examples. Nothing is more Portuguese.
No Portuguese dinner or lunch is finished if we have not drank coffee. So even if the dinner started with bread, olives and butter, followed by entrees, such as roasted chorizo or scrambled eggs, the main course was plentiful and accompanied by salad and bread, and we did not refuse dessert (Arroz Doce or Farófias for example), the meal is only finished after we drink the coffee.