PORTUGAL: THE COOKBOOK

By Cuisine2 Minutes
April 12, 2022By Cuisine

LEANDRO CARREIRA, PHAIDON, $95

 

The book blurb for the latest in Phaidon’s international food bible series states ‘the definitive and largest collection of traditional Portuguese recipes translated into English for home cooks’ – if I tell you that the recipe index alone covers 17 pages you’ll get an idea of the scale of this book. With recipes spanning the mountainous north to the southern beaches of the Algarve and the island outposts of Madeira and the Açores it is certainly comprehensive, and therein lies its major downfall: exhaustive coverage of regional variations comes at the expense of usability. However central salt cod is to the cuisine, I can’t help thinking that the 34 salt cod recipes could have been curated into a tighter selection. Your shopping list may also be problematic with ingredients such as largehead hairtail, horse mackerel, limpets, partridge, eels and lamprey (despite the encyclopaedic degree of detail there is little attempt to suggest substitutions) and nose-to-tail dining is celebrated with dishes such as salt cod bladder stew and scrambled kids’ brains. However, I’m prepared to give some latitude to a book that includes such delightful recipe titles as ‘nun’s bellies’ and ‘angels’ double chins’ (both egg-based desserts), ‘priest’s ears’ and ‘bacon from heaven’ (surprisingly, a light and crispy dessert cake). This is definitely a book for a deep dive into the cooking of Portugal and its many regional specialities, but maybe not the best starting point if you are only after an overview. TRACY WHITMEY