Easter in Portugal is such great season . Besides the religious side ( 95% of the population are Roman Catholics ) you will find an amazing diversity of traditions. Most of the traditions is to join families in social environment, eat typical dishes, bread, cakes around the table while chatting with each other. Traditions can change according the location you are in the country. Portugal has different ingredients resources and food or recipes can be different even having the same name.
If we think in Alentejo (South of the country) you will notice more dishes based on pork meat or bread based ( read Évora ), while Algarve we think more into fresh fish. Back to the past, in terms of gastronomy, at the Easter the most common to eat was basically lamb, eggs and almonds. More recently, rabbit became a figure on this season, associated to Easter eggs. The use of eggs means the beginning of life, ressurection or rebirth. There is references of the eggs in the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians cultures. Romans had an outstanding presence in most of Europe and of course Iberia Peninsula. Lisbon or Olisipo has an interpretation center of their presence, which you may consider to visit. Eggs are omnipresent in Easter culinary confections. You may use them as fillings or figurative element on Folares.
Trás-os-Montes and Folar
Almonds were and are present in different variations of regional sweets. The term also refers to the exchange of gifts which was a habit on the Easter season. Back to the past Folar was the gift that godparents and godmothers offers to godchildren in the Easter. More associated to the roman catholic religion, the word also means the collection that priests make at parishioners houses, during the Easter when they visit on the Easter Sundays and later on Monday´s .
In Portugal, this tradition still remains, on the North of Portugal ( Trás-os-Montes). Folar is based on wheat dough always leavened with baker’s yeast, with more or less eggs and meat filling. Just a brief note of the Portuguese language : folar (singular) , folares (plural).
There is a believe that the making of this bread has its origins on the New Christians. They were Jews that in the late of 15th century pretended or accepted the Christians religion, when they had to choose between death and baptism. This act, avoid of suffering religious persecutions. Folares initially consist only of poultry, rabbit and veal meat. They were seasoned to resemble the appearance and taste of the Pork meat. A short reminder, pork meat was prohibited by the Hebrew religion .
Trás-Os-Montes wine region
Trás-os-Montes soils are granitic with some patches of schist. The weather is blend of hot summers with icy winters. Common to snow the soils are in general poor and unproductive. The wine region is divided in three areas : Chaves, Planalto Mirandês and Valpaços. The vineyards are mainly leaving in extreme climate has mention before on highly altitude. Typically on the Red grapes you will have : Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Bastardo, Marufo, Tinta Roriz and Trincadeira while on the whites Côdega do Larinho, Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Fernão Pires, Rabigato, Síria (Côdega) and Viosinho.
Main food on Easter Season
- Roasted meats – the most common will be with lamb . However, in the country you will find also tradition of
- Folares – from North to South, you will find different versions of Folares. While in some areas will be more rabbit, poultry in others more chorizo, ham and even a blend of meats. Back to old days, people will use what they had available.
- Bola – similar to Folares. A common base of flour and different approaches with meat, similar to Folares . What can be different is some references, mainly in the centre, to Bola´s based on cod fish and sardines . Now days not so common anymore.
- Almonds – You will find a huge diversity. Almonds inside as a filling with sugar outside in different colors ( white, pink, blue, yellow, others). You will find also almonds inside with different chocolates. More modern, less Portuguese traditional, however delicious . Be careful in case of diabetes .
Recipe of Bola de Carnes ?
Just need to follow our three videos available on Instagram page.
1st video : Preparation
2nd video : Going to the Oven
3rd video : All done, ready to eat!