KALE couve (kove) Arguably the leafy vegetable most associated with Portugal, kale is what lends the “green” to Green Soup or Caldo Verde, which many consider to be the national dish. While several varieties of kale are grown in Portugal, the most popular, and the only one used in caldo verde, is couve galega. The leaves, which grow on tall woody stalks, are broad and at—perfect for cutting into the whisker-thin shavings for the soup. To this day, cooks can nd bags of preslivered clippings at markets such as the Bulhão in Porto, lled with bawdy farmers’ wives and feisty fishmongers, or the Mercado da Ribeira, in Lisbon. I nd the kale sold in the States to be tougher and less tasty than that in Portugal. I’ve had greater success using collard greens.
LARD banha (bah-nyuh) Banha is identical to our rendered leaf lard, the fat found around a pig’s kidneys. It’s pristine white and still widely used when cooking meats. Although it’s a saturated fat, it’s a far cry from the hydrogenated products loaded with trans fats so often used in this country. In fact, it’s sublime. And with the recent studies undemonizing saturated fats, lard, used with a light hand, can add tremendous avor to your cooking. Resist those commercial bricks lingering on grocery shelves, though. Instead, render your own. The taste is infinitely better.
OLIVE OIL azeite (uh-zayt) Until recently, when cooks thought of olive oil, Portugal didn’t rush to mind. And for good reason. For quite a long time, many producers would leave heaps of the harvested olives sitting for days before pressing, kicking o anaerobic fermentation deep inside the mounds, a process that gave the oil a fusty odor and taste—something prized by the Portuguese. To add insult to injury, the Portuguese have always loved oils with high acidity (read: rancidity). I don’t, nor do, it seems, the European Union and the International Olive Oil Council. The two groups clamped down, and now growers from the Alentejo, Ribatejo, the Beiras, and Trás-os-Montes—the four largest oil-producing regions—are turning out oils that can hold their own on the world market. But rather than shelling out big bucks for bottles of top-shelf extra-virgin