Food & Beverage

Jan 1, 2017

FRIENDS FOR ALL OCASIONS

It is one of the most beloved ingredients in Portuguese cooking and, yet, it is captured in the far seas of the North Atlantic Ocean. The small Iberia country, is one of the largest world consumers of this fish, even though it's fishing volume of the species, is almost residual.

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It is an important tourist recommendation: if you travel through Portugal, order bacalhau (codfish) for lunch or for diner. Portuguese cooking offers a vast range of flavours and there are much more than five hundred different recipes to prepare bacalhau. And all, fabulous.

It's been long since the fishermen from the archipelago of Azores set sail to the hostile angry seas, heading to the northern seas, just to capture this species and feed, not only their own families, but also a bigger part of the country needs.

One more tourist recommendation: don't be surprised, therefor, when, walking around in Lisbon, close to the Tagus River shores, you will find a huge pavilion with a writing on top "bacalhau fridge store house". It was, indeed, there, that the result of the de capture from the fishing boats from azores, used to be downloaded, and it was in there too that took carry the process of salting of the tasty species.

One can ask: so, what's moving the citizens from this small country, to like that much of a medium size fish (usually, this is a medium to small fish and, though it can weight over 100kg, it is not usual to find it larger than 2 meters long) , which inhabits frozen and far away seas from North Atlantic?

One must take notice that the introduction of this fish into gastronomy was made by Portuguese, 14th century, when sailors from the great discoveries of those times, used to capture it and salted it as a preservation method for the long lasting voyage periods of time.

Some of the world's best cooking masters, clearly refer the absolutely unique Portuguese technique to salt the fish, in order to keep it preserved without using ice, which was a very rare and expensive resource, at the time, in a very poor country. According to these kitchen specialists, the salting process of bacalhau grant's it a more consistent texture, than it does when the species gets simply frozen.

Norway to proceed

Even before, numbers.

According to the latest censuses of population in Portugal, the country is inhabited by ten million people, what seems short when compared to some of the biggest metropolis in the world (it is perfectly normal to have brasilian, north-american, african, chinese or russian cities with more inhabitants).

It so happens, though, this small country far west of the european continent, yearly consumes more than 70 thousand tons of this. You did read it right, what means each inhabitant in Portugal consumes, averagely, more than seven kilograms a year.

Out of this astronomical number (in Portugal, this consume is only matchable to the consumption of tuna or sardine), 47 thousand tons are directly imported from Norway. All the 13 tons left are divided between the small share for the fish quota Portugal still holds, and a major part is imported from Iceland.

Even though it is not a part of Norwegian traditions (the species, in Norway, is consumed, generally, as a fresh fish), several years ago, Norway adopted the salting process (wet) for the preservation of capture, for export.

Most of the captured fish by Norwegian fishing boats, are downloaded at the processing units, simply frozen. Only then they step to the natural processing of depositing the fish, sliced already, into salt (a great amount is also processed in Spain).

The relationship between Portuguese, Norwegian and bacalhau doesn't end here!

Known as the Norwegian "Capital of Bacalhau", Alesund is a city placed northwest of this scandinavian country. The city was totally rebuilt after the great fire of 1904 which destroyed it completely. In that process, Art Nouveau style, very much the fashion of those days, was adopted, which made the city a must passage point for art lovers and connaisseurs.

It is natural and frequent, to find close with the commercials in the city, many typical or native Portuguese references and names. Alesund, is also known for being one of the most important starting base for those who wish to visit the magnificent Norwegian fiords.

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