The Joy That Is Portuguese Food ::: Caldo Verde Means Happy Life (Not Really, But it Should)


When Portuguese Home Cooking was released in the autumn of 2021, my heart leapt. Author Ana Patuleia Ortins has put together a must-have cookbook full of recipes that may be quite exotic to many who haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the joys of Portugal’s culinary treasures. 

Overshadowed by Spain, in many ways, Portuguese culture is distinct, beautiful, and an absolute treasure. And the food? Amazing. 

What can I say? I was lucky enough to grow up blessed to experience this extraordinary culture up close and personal in Toronto, and I am truly an unabashed superfan. 

Ana Patuleia Ortins learned these recipes and methods from her father, a less common dynamic. I, too, learned to cook from my dad, and the connection created in the kitchen between father and daughter is one I would recommend to all the men out there with daughters. It remains a defining, essential bond between my dad and me. 

The majority of my happiest memories with my dad are cooking together. Watching cooking shows on PBS as a kid (Frugal Gourmet, anyone?), and of course, eating all the food and, eventually, drinking (all the) wine together.

My mum was there too, mostly overwhelmed by all the garlic. 

My dad fed our family, a division of labor that suited my parents exceptionally well. I was his assistant, but often he would force me to take the reins from a very young age, and he would eagerly be my sous chef. They are very happy memories, and I still use those skills I learned and heed his advice daily. 

Some essential advice from my dad: always add more garlic, and there is nothing that a warm Portuguese tart cannot cure. And recipes are inspiration, possibility, and a terrific window into a culture. But it’s also dinner, so not everything can be time-consuming and complicated. Nor does that make it any less memorable. Recipes can always be amended to your tastes, what you have on hand, and dietary restrictions.

Portuguese Home Cooking is a user-friendly introduction to the classics of Portuguese cuisine. Ana Patuleia Ortins’s warm writing style and the anecdotes she shares elevate this cookbook to glorious ranks. The recipes will become standards in your kitchen. 

Consider this your gateway drug to Portuguese culture that may just take you to unexpected places — if you know a little something about Portugal, that joke works on a few levels. 

Ana Patuleia Ortins (Writer) and Hiltrud Schulz (Photographer).              Portuguese Home Cooking. Northampton: Interlink Books,USA. $30.00 (approx.). 304 pages. Widely Available.