I always wondered how hard-working Europeans survived on the Continental Breakfast. Coffee and bread just never seemed to last until lunch. And in Portugal, lunch happens somewhere between 1 to 2 p.m.
When we lived in Portugal, the first thing we did in the morning was go to the bakery for a fresh supply of papa secos (see photo). We generally bought only enough for a day because they got stale quickly. We tore them apart, buttered them and seldom let them go bad. They were good with jam, cheese or almost anything that invites you to experiment.
Some days we went to a pasteleria – a bakery – for breakfast.
This kind of doughnut always called Harry’s name when we walked into the pasteleria. It is the Portuguese version of a cream filled doughnut. They blame it on Berlin. Very sweet. Like Harry.
This was my favorite bakery treat. It’s a rich sweet bread, and I usually asked for it buttered and stuffed with a slice of cheese.
The Pão de Mafra is a a specialty of the village of Mafra. A version of sour dough bread, they use very little yeast and let it go “sour” before they shape it into a long loaf and bake it in a brick oven. It’s heavier than the other breads, but oh so filling. Eat it fresh as it comes out of the oven, or toast it the day after. Use it to sop up your soup if you like – and no one is looking.
What is bread without coffee? This is a bica – the Portuguese expression of espresso. Strong. Froth on top. And if you do it right, it is sweet enough to keep the dentists in business for a decade. See that spoon? The coffee is strong enough for the spoon to stand up in the cup. Well, okay, I was exaggerating. But not by much 😀 Some like to drink a bica first thing in the morning to shock their brains awake.
For those who prefer a gentler awakening, let me introduce you to the galão, which translates as “gallon.” It holds a bica of coffee in the bottom of a glass that is then filled with hot, foaming milk. Would you call that a latté? Unless you specify otherwise, the coffee may be part coffee and part something like Postum. If you like coffee, you may not like the substitute.
Not a coffee person? Try chá de limão.
What do you eat for breakfast? Do you eat breakfast? Would this coffee and bread sort of thing be enough for you till the next meal?