Due to its many complexities, the Portuguese don’t really expect visitors to speak their language very well but are very engaging and fully appreciative when someone tries. And there’s nothing more satisfying than having a go and making yourself understood, especially in snack-bars and restaurants.
So here are a few words and phrases you might like to have a go at when the waiter comes over, bringing with him the lista, carta, ementa or very simply, the menu.
Meals in Portuguese restaurants are divided into the various courses known as Entradas (appetisers or starters), Sopa (soup), Pratos (main dishes), Sobremesas (desserts) and Bebidas (drinks).
The following items regularly feature on restaurant menus in Portugal, but there are many variations and hundreds of different regional specialities;
DO YOU WANT MEAT? (carne)
leitão (baby pork)
WHAT ABOUT FISH? (peixe)
cherne (stone bass)
pargo (sea bream)
salmonete (red mullet)
MAYBE SOME SEAFOOD? (marisco)
gambas (king prawns)
HOW DO YOU LIKE IT DONE?
espetada (on the spit)
na brasa (charcoal-grilled)
no churrasco (barbecued)
no forno (in the oven)
ANYTHING WITH IT?
batatas fritas (French fries)
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME VEGETABLES? (legumes)
favas (broad beans)
feijão (baked beans)
PERHAPS SOME DESSERT? (sobremesa)
arroz doce (rice pudding)
pudim (cream caramel)
And finally, here are a few tried and tested suggestions…
caldo verde (a traditional soup made with cabbage and potato)
sopa de marisco (a thick seafood soup)
arroz de marisco (a rice-based seafood dish)
bacalhau assado no forno (cod roasted in the oven)
bacalhau à Bras (cod fried with egg, potatoes and onions)
caldeirada (fish casserole)
lulas recheadas (stuffed squid)
açorda de marisco (traditional bread-based seafood dish)
bife de atum (tuna steak)
sardinhas grelhadas (grilled sardines)
cozido à portuguesa (traditional boiled meat and vegetables dish)
carne de porco à Alentejana (pork cubes with clams)
feijoada (bean stew with meat)
espetada mista (mixed kebab)
bife na pedra (steak cooked on a hot stone)