Lisbon: Recipes From the Heart of Portugal
Lisbon is a city that sits across seven hills at the mouth of the Tagus River. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe — once an important maritime location. At one point the Portuguese empire stretched far and wide, through Asia, Africa, and South America, and because of the resulting trade, in the sixteenth century, Lisbon was one of the richest cities in the world.
“The colonial period changed the country’s food completely,” explains Rebecca Seal in her cookbook Lisbon, which focuses on the flavours of the Portuguese capital. “The Moors brought figs, almonds and coffee, while late, hot chilli peppers arrived on explorer’s ships returning from South America. Cinnamon came from Sri Lanka and sweet oranges from India. Even salt cod, which comes from cold, north Atlantic waters, not those surrounding Portugal, owes its popularity to the country’s maritime history.”
In Lisbon, the London-based food and drink writer and television presenter shares her favourite recipes, inspired by her travels in the region. Beautiful photographs — taken by Rebecca’s husband, Steven Joyce — and over 80 authentic recipes fill the pages of Lisbon, offering readers a look at Portuguese cuisine that goes beyond cod and custard tarts.
Recipes featured in Lisbon include:
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
Rebecca Seal: I believe that eating should be a joyful experience where possible — although obviously, like everyone, sometimes I find myself eating a depressing sandwich in a train station! I want my recipes, and food in general, to enrich people's lives, whether that's through introducing them to new cuisines, flavors or ingredients — which is what my books are all about — or showing them that good food can be fast, or simple, or achievable. I get great pleasure from cooking and feeding people; I guess I just want to share that.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
Whenever I do a cookbook based on a particular place, the recipes get chosen in a variety of ways — some are inspired by particular chefs, or the history of the place, some are so intrinsic to local eating that I can't help but include them, and still others are dishes which I particularly love. They all speak of the place, for me, and I want them to do so for other people too.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
That's like choosing a favorite child! I often cook the piri piri chicken, but I also love the spicy prawns, in part because they remind me of a wonderful lunch with my parents, when my toddler daughter Isla covered her face with an entire portion of chocolate ice cream.
What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
Garlic, chillies, onions, parsley, cheese, chocolate, and pasta. I could live on those if I had to, but given the chance I'd write a much longer list. Also, does wine count as a food...?
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
I have small kids so I don't get to go out as much as I used to. I love both, truly, especially with friends at home, my husband (who is a fantastic cook) and the kids hurtling about in the garden.
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
Right now it is super-hot here in London, so my go-to drink is white port and tonic. It is deliciously light and refreshing, and relatively low in alcohol too. I can't really understand why it isn't better known — white port, with its grapey-sweet fresh flavour, is a perfect match for the bitter notes in tonic. I love to serve it with a strip of orange zest, but you could just as well use grapefruit or pomelo.
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
First, I'd like them to take away that Portuguese food is amazing! And that Lisbon is a beautiful, welcoming city. I want the book to be one that opens people's eyes to a different way of cooking and eating, a new way to take joy in food. And I want people to love how it looks too — I'm totally biased, but I love the photos and the design so much, and I really hope others do, too.