Portugal is a country rich in history and heritage, and steeped in religious ritual and tradition. Its culture represents layer upon layer of different civilizations that lived in and ruled Europe’s westernmost country during past millennia — from prehistoric cultures to the Phoenicians and the Romans, spanning Germanic invasions, the Sephardic Jewish migration and finally the Moorish conquest and subsequent expulsion. Today, Portugal is largely Roman Catholic but pieces of these ancient civilizations can still be found, in museums and monuments – yes — but also in small villages and abandoned churches; in the language with its mix of Latin and Arabic influences; and of course on the table.

Here are five of the best Portuguese Easter foods, the holiest holiday in Portugal, all of them full of flavor and history.

If food is a religion in Portugal, then codfish is its most holy dish. It’s said that there are 365 different ways to prepare bacalhau, the Portuguese national dish of salted, dried codfish — one for each day of the year. True or not, one thing is for sure – on Good Friday, bacalhau will be consumed by Portuguese families across the country in keeping with the tradition of abstaining from meat until Easter Sunday.

Lamb or Baby Goat
A holiday tradition in many parts of the world, roast lamb is often the centerpiece of the Portuguese table on Easter Sunday. Harking back to the Jewish tradition, lamb represents the sacrifice during the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. In the northern part of the country, cabrito, or baby goat, is often served in place of lamb. Whether lamb or goat, the meat is seasoned with the Portuguese trinity of garlic, bay leaves and white wine, and roasted […]