Let’s get this straight. Petiscos (pe-tish-koosh) is not the Portuguese word for tapas. Although petiscos and tapas are both words used to described a variety of small snacks and dishes, the Portuguese culture of petiscos is very different from the Spanish tapas. For the Portuguese, the word petisco has in fact multiple meanings; on one hand it does stand for something small to eat but on the other also suggests delicacy, something special and unique. The verb petiscar refers to the activity of snacking so you might ask, what is the big deal? Well, petiscar is not simply snacking when you’re a little peckish, rather it implies an almost uncontrolled enticement towards the petisco itself, the delicacy, the speciality, the tasting experience. Variety is key and a good petisco session will feature several cured meats such as flamed chouriço (also not to be confused with the Spanish chorizo), cured ham (presunto), cheeses, olives and bread. Things start to get interesting when local specialities come into play. Octopus salad (salada de polvo), clams with coriander (ameijoas à Bulhão Pato), steak pieces with olives and pickles in a wine sauce (pica pau), salted cod cakes (bolos de bacalhau), salted cod fritters (pataniscas de bacalhau), meat croquettes, rissoles with meat or shrimp (rissois de carne, rissois de camarão), pig’s trotters in a coriander sauce (pezinhos de coentrada), chicken livers (pipis), veal liver (iscas), snails (caracois), salted cod salad (salada de bacalhau), chicken pies (empadas), pork and steak sandwiches (bifanas, pregos) and the list goes on… All these delicacies are of course nothing without the sharing, social encounters and chat that surround them and of course good qualities wines.
Petiscos (from top left to bottom right): Salted cod salad (salada de bacalhau), chicken pie (empada), octopus salad (salada de polvo), rissoles (rissois), flamed chouriço, veal liver (iscas)