Portuguese cuisine has been celebrated in a new book written by Leandro Carreira, a Portuguese chef based in London, which argues for the need for a national strategy to promote Portuguese cuisine.
With over 550 recipes, classic and contemporary, Portugal: A Cookbook is already a hit after it was released by New York and London-based Phaidon in May.
National Geographic even listed Portugal: A Cookbook as one of the top five new cookbooks of the spring.
Bolo do caco, cod rice, peixinhos da horta, green stock or honey and almond bread are some of the recipes found in this book, which took over two years to complete.
Speaking to Lusa, Leandro Carreira, currently the “Chef” at the Sea, Sea restaurant in London, admitted that one of the biggest challenges he faced was the resistance of the villagers to share their recipes with him.
“It was possibly one of the most challenging projects I have ever done in my entire career. To start with, I’m not a writer, I have a degree in hospitality. It was all very difficult because I didn’t even know where to start. I had such a utopia that I could go to the villages in Portugal and people would talk to me and give me their recipes. Of course, that didn’t happen,” he said.
“While it worked in some situations, in general it didn’t. I faced a lot of resistance from people who didn’t want to give me the recipes, but also a lot of people who wanted to share them. the recipes were given to an intermediary, and not to me directly, which was a little strange, ”he said.
Although the start was difficult, the 43-year-old “chef” noted that it was just as difficult to stop, going so far as to throw out about 35% of the collected material in order to keep the size of the book.
Portugal: The Cookbook has already been released on several continents and is being prepared for a French edition, which will be published soon.
Leandro Carreira believes that this book can influence the spread of Portuguese cuisine in the world. .
“A lot of the energy of the book is to demystify people’s notion that Portuguese cuisine is just quiches, port and cod. wash the dishes, putting everything in a more relevant context,” he said.
“I think this book will help people get over their fear and make some dishes with more affordable ingredients,” said the “chef,” who has lived in London for 12 years.
Faced with the fact that in New York, for example, there are hundreds of Italian, Chinese, French restaurants plus a few Portuguese ones, Leandro Carreira regrets that this scenario is being repeated in many other geographical areas.
“This is a stigma that is felt all over the world, not just in the United States of America. For example, I have friends in Canada who report the same situation, but here in London it’s even worse. The nation has never done much. , to popularize Portuguese cuisine,” he said.
According to Cook, there should be a national strategy in this regard. .
“The truth is that over the last 15 years Portugal has become such a popular destination, but you have to think it happened for a reason. [refeição requintada] and everything was also more decentralized, and not just in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve,” he said.
“Today we already have projects all over the country, which has always been lacking, but I am glad that this is happening now,” concluded the Portuguese chef.