Portuguese Day & Belem Pastries

July 14, 2008


It just worked out by coincidence that we were in Lisbon, mostly the Belem area on June 10th which is a major holiday in Portugal, their independence day. It was probably a little more crowded with locals because of the holiday, but it also was very special to celebrate a bit with the locals that were off from work on a sunny Tuesday in a festive mood.


There was some kind of parade with special flags at the park near the Belem Tower (Torre de Belem) which is a Portugal icon. It was built in 1520 in the Portuguese late Gothic style called Manueline and symbolizes the voyages that made Portugal powerful. This is the last sight sailors saw as they left Lisbon harbor and the first they saw on their return. There is a big park near the tower and the locals were gathering with picnic supplies, flags and instruments in hand.


We happened to have our own little picnic with us in our backpack, so we joined the crowd at lunch time after exploring the lovely Belem area. We enjoyed the music and party atmosphere and we seem to be the only tourists in the middle of this celebration. The shade felt good after walking in the sun most of the morning and Mozart found a big tree to sit under while she did a drawing of the Torre de Belem.



Our picnic looked quite meager to the fixings and things they hauled in, comfy chairs and all. There were hams hanging from trees, which I thought I got a picture of, but does not seem to be here now. There were many circles of music and we joined in a few after our lunch. It was lively music with words all the locals knew and joined in singing. Accordions and guitars were the main instruments and some would grab a partner and dance. Mozart clapped to the music and one woman even asked her to dance. It was one of those joyful spontaneous moments in travel that can not be planned, but add a special glow to the memory banks.




Later that day, we searched down a place called Pasteis de Belem that we had read about. Oh my gawd, this pastry was truly to die for! We started with one little one a piece because what is delicious to locals is not always delicious to us. Soon, we were ordering a big plateful like all the locals next to us. There was a long line outside with people waiting to get orders to go, which is always a good sign. We became experts at the ritual of adding cinnamon and powdered sugar in the shake-on containers and enjoyed every melt-in-your-mouth bite.


These little pastries were one of our best treats so far, so definitely put this on your do-not-miss list if you are planning a trip to Lisbon. The name of the pastry is pastry de Belem. It is a custard-like filled pastry with a light flaky, moist crust and quite popular all over Portugal. Only in Lisbon is it called Pastry de Belem, but trust me, as good as it is else where, this is THE place to try it. No others lived up to these fresh- from-the-oven delights!  Just ask any local for the location, but it is basically  in the area to the right of the big cathedral if you are facing it and not far from a McDonald's and kids playground. The address and hours are in the link above for the pastry shop. Don't miss it!!



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Oh my, those pastries look to die for! Wonder if we can find a recipe online here? I'll have to look! Thanks for sharing...


Great question HappyCampers! I don't think they look that great, but boy did they taste yummy. My mouth still waters at the thought of them, but I am glad we do not live too near them as I am still trying to get all my excess weight off.

If you find a recipe that works for you, please post it here for others that might want to try it.

I found this one that you might want to try:


Thanks for the link above! Here's a link to the recipe we're going to try (the recipe starts on the 2nd page),1,6411433.story?page=1&coll=la-headlines-pe-food

Lots of many pastry layers...we'll have to see how they turn out :)


Your photo's of your trip are lovely. I really must plan a trip to Portugal when one of the festivals is on. Glad you got to try Pasteis - they are fabulous!


We have a lot of Portuguese people in Hawaii. One of the famous foods we have here is malasadas. Yum! I wonder if the pastry de Belem is similar but with filling added?


@HappyCampers-So what is your verdict on the pastry? You are a brave one to try out that recipe!

@Lily-Thanks, so glad to hear that you liked them. The music and mood was a lot of fun!! The people are very sweet and welcoming.

@girasoli, Huh, I did not know that about Hawaii, but I just realized that my step sis married a man from Hawaii ( and lives there) & he is part Portuguese.

DaVinci also grew up near a large community of Portuguese in California and his best boyhood friend was Portuguese.

I have no idea if malasadas is related or not. I don't think I have had that. Perhaps someone else knows and will pipe in. ;)

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