Maybe you’re planning to visit Portugal soon, maybe you’ve already been here a couple of times and fell in love with the place as much as I did, or maybe you’re just curious…let’s see if you knew these five fun facts about Portugal!
1. Most people enter their house through the back door (if it’s not an apartment building). My parents in law have NEVER used their front door in the 35 years they are living in their house! I’m still researching why that is, but I’m guessing that usually the back door leads faster to the center of the house – the kitchen.
2. Almost everyone loves to drink coffee, but many people don’t own a coffee machine. Portugal is the land of cafés and it’s not unusual to always drink your coffee out of home. Cafés are a place to socialize and since many people go there daily in the morning and after lunch for what the rest of the world calls espresso (here it’s café or bica), no need to make appointments for coffee with your friends – you’ll bump into them eventually anyway.
3. Cappuccino in Portugal comes from the instant coffee pack. Now that we’re already talking about coffee, be aware that ordering coffee in Portugal is a bit different. As mentioned above, “espresso” is what you get when you order a coffee. Cappuccino is most of the times the instant sugar-milk-coffee-mix. So if you like to drink your coffee milky, better order a galão or meia de leite. Here you can find a nice overview on how to order coffee in Portugal.
4. If a Portuguese invites you to drink coffee, it can mean many things. No, not what you think! Vamos tomar um café (Let´s drink a coffee) as a suggestion for Saturday night around 10 pm? Imagine my face – drinking coffee so late??? Well, people use this phrase as an equivalent for a get together, it can be drinks at night, it can be a quick break from work or many other things – so don´t take it too literally.
5. There is cinnamon in many of the sweets. Maybe this isn’t as important to you as it is to me – I really don’t like cinnamon. I’ve noticed painfully, that most Portuguese love it and put it in many things. I’ve innocently bitten into what looked like bread to me and it contained cinnamon. As we all know, cinnamon is good for many things, lower blood sugar levels, contains antioxidants etc. so maybe the national health organisation is behind all this ;). Jokes aside, it’s probably because Portugal was a great seafaring nation and had exotic colonies many hundred years ago from which the cinnamon (and coffee) was brought here. So many traditional recipes feature this spice, especially sweets. But beware – this enthusiasm also spreads on “imported” dishes such as tiramisu…I got mine served recently with cinnamon instead of cocoa on top!