For most people, the food that is available in the supermarkets, weekly markets and local shops is sufficient for everyday living. But now and again we like to indulge ourselves with a little something that is particularly British that generally can’t be bought locally
Here are a few ideas and possibly a few alternatives that don’t quite compensate but offer a good alternative. There is nothing like the real thing however.
Bisto/OXO – If you cook meat well and collect the juices you can always make good gravy. But if you want a quick fix for the "meat pastie thing" you bought from Modelo it would just be nice to have some instant gravy or OXO kicking around. Knorr do actually do a stock block over here but you can't beat Bisto or OXO.
Cheddar Cheese – The stronger the better (otherwise what’s the point). A reasonable alternative to make the roof of your mouth tingle is to look for a good Azores cheese
Crackers – Not the ones to pull but ones to put your cheese on such as Hovis or cheese thins or sesame seed thins. You can buy TUCs here and digestives (although not quite the same.)
Cadbury’s Chocolate – You can still buy Cadbury’s and Nestle in Portugal but here it is different because it needs to stay solid in warmer temperatures. This seems to give it a creamier, thicker texture and also lasts longer in the mouth.
Crisps – What can compare to a KP disco or a Hula Hoop or any of the multitude of Walkers' flavours. Over here, look out for some of the Lay’s specialities or even the Heinz Tomato Sauce flavour crisps.
Baked Beans – HP, Heinz, Branston or even own brand baked beans. They are something unique to the UK. Holiday makers flock to a restaurant that has them on the menu. In Portugal we have more varieties of beans. Try taking a jar of Feijao Manteiga, Feijao Alubia or Garbanzos and adding polpa da tomate, sugar and salt and make your own. Shortly we will have our own recipe for baked beans on the website.
Branston Pickle – Unique, even in the UK. Many UK supermarkets copy but none seem to achieve the same result.
Sliced Bread – Hovis , Kingsmill, Warburtons or others. Portuguese bread just doesn’t toast right and it dries out quickly. The selection of buns and baps is great but it just doesn’t slice with best of them. If you want something close, try Mini Preco’s “Reva Extra Fofo Sandwich”; not perfect but it makes pretty good toast.
Real Ale – What can I say? You can’t always get Real Ale in the UK but at least you can buy bitter which is completely different from any of the Portuguese beers. Super Bock do a label called Bohemia which is a dark beer but I’m afraid you won’t get a head like a Marstons Pedigree or a Boddingtons.
Sausages, Bacon and Ham - Portugal have a huge pork industry but it is unlikely that you will find anyone that makes a decent sausage. Curing the bacons and hams also only seems to done by English Butchers that work out here. You can get a presunto-type bacon here but don’t fry it too long as you will end up with crispy bacon fries!!
Black Pudding – Quintessentially Unique. The important factor in Black Pudding is that it has no big lumps of fat or gristle. In the UK there are very few varieties of black pudding; in Portugal there are hundreds!! But there is one major difference and that is that most Portuguese Black Puddings are very chewy and contain big lumps of fat. If you are looking for an equal to the UK, try anything containing Flour (farinha) or Rice (Arroz) as these tend to have a lower fat content.
Salad Crème – Essentially mayonnaise with vinegar but you try and recreate it.!
Spam – You can buy luncheon meat in certain supermarkets but Spam has a certain taste and texture and it fries much better!
HP Sauce – Or any brown sauce. Mayonnaise, Tomato sauce and squeezy mustard are about the extent of Portugal sauces but sometimes you just need “Brown”
Malt Vinegar – White wine vinegar will do for most things but when you are pickling your onions or seasoning your fish and chips, you can’t beat a dash of Sarsons to improve the meal.
Chocolate Hobnobs – Ultimate biscuit! A mega-digestive with texture, flavour and chocolate. Need I say more!!
I am sure your mouth started watering before you even got half way through the article. I had to stop 3 times for snacks – mostly salt and vinegar hula hoops dipped in salad cream.
If you need to buy any of these products have a look in our Business Directory in Food & Drink Retailers for your local stockists.
If there is something you think I have missed, drop me a line and I can drool as I add it. All donations gratefully accepted.