Times food critic under fire for panning Portuguese cuisine

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 16-07-2015 14:39:00 · 73 Comments
Times food critic under fire for panning Portuguese cuisine


English columnist and restaurant critic Giles Coren seems to be testing the resilience of what is famously known as the oldest alliance in the world after causing a furious backlash on social media following the recent publication of a review in The Times in which he describes Portuguese cuisine as “the worst on earth.”


“Portuguese cooking is the worst on earth. Or, at least, the worst of any warm nation on earth. Obviously, Irish cooking could give it a run. Or Polish. But in its leaden, oversalted blandness, the cuisine of Portugal is, at best, what English cooking would be if we had better weather”, Coren wrote in his piece published at the beginning of this month.


Coren also makes reference to the historic allegiance between Portugal and the UK, saying: “It is a creaking truism of international diplomacy that the alliance between Britain and Portugal is the oldest in the world. It is less often observed that the alliance is one based not on political expedience but a mutual love of soggy cod, white bread, overcooked potatoes, plain cheese, sweet wine and cold custard.”
His outspoken views – in which he also claims the food in Portuguese hotels “is never Portuguese. People are on holiday. It just wouldn’t be fair” – have been slammed by national foodies after the review spread like wildfire on Portuguese blogs and social media.
Two of Portugal’s most famous chefs, Rui Paula and Miguel Rocha Vieira, have taken to their Facebook pages to defend Portugal’s gastronomic reputation.
“I do not agree. I cannot subscribe [to the views]. I cannot understand. If there is something that we should be proud of it is of the sea that we have and the food we make. Giles Coren, I invite you to come have lunch with me one day to see one of the main reasons that gives us pride in being Portuguese”, Chef Miguel Rocha Vieira wrote on his official page.
Chef Rui Paula meanwhile deemed the article “a real offence to our gastronomic, cultural and historical culture.”
“How you can make general assumptions about something when you only know the tip of the iceberg? For a critic, awards are not a free pass to shamelessly fire off in all directions at will. Surely someone with the responsibility of clearing the good name of the culture of a people, which has just been soiled, will take action to put this gentleman in place.”


Coren’s controversial assessment of Portuguese cuisine was made in a piece in which he reviews the London-based Portuguese restaurant Taberna do Mercado.


In his review, he gave the restaurant two out of ten. This is stark contrast to other recent reviews in the Telegraph and Time Out magazine, which both gave the venue five out of five stars.


Taberna do Mercado was set up by Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, who found recent fame as head chef at celebrity haunt Chiltern Firehouse.


Nuno Mendes also made the cover of the June 2015 British Airways in-flight magazine, Highlife, which describes him and another Portuguese chef, José Avillez, as “Europe’s Greatest Chefs”.


He was also behind the acclaimed restaurant Viajante in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel, which within its first year of opening received a Michelin star and was included in the 2013 World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Giles Coren has previously referred to Mendes as “every restaurant critic’s secret favourite cook.”


That notwithstanding, in his latest and arguably rather scathing review on Portuguese cuisine, Coren claims he is “speaking as an expert.”


“I’ve been to Portugal dozens of times and I have never had a good meal there. But then you don’t go to Portugal for the food, do you? You go for … Hang on, why do you go to Portugal?”


Recalling childhood holidays, he reflects: “When I was a child we went to the Algarve every summer so the grown-ups could play Monopoly and drink rum and Coke, and the kids could burn so gruesomely that blisters bubbled up on our shoulders and we simmered visibly, like soups. The food was the standout awful thing even then, with sterilised milk substituting for the fresh, pasteurised stuff we were used to at breakfast, and making our Frosties taste of Dettol.
In 1975 Portugal was already past its best as a holiday destination.”
Nonetheless, the frank critic says he doesn’t want Portuguese people to be offended.
“In many ways their crap food is what makes them so loveable. And I have eaten plenty of it (…) Which is presumably why the phrase ‘Portuguese restaurant’ is not one you hear very often.”
It seems, however, an army of Portuguese food connoisseurs have taken offence to Coren’s opinions, and a torrent of angry responses has been unleashed on social media.
While the odd observer does appear to be in agreement with the opinionated reviewer, scores more, fired up Twitter with scornful views of their own.


This did not go amiss on the critic, who replied: “Judging by all the Portuguese people with 1 follower calling me a c**t this week, I think I have singlehandedly got a country onto Twitter”, before adding: “I’m so bad with technology. Where’s the ‘mute’ function that works on a whole country?”


Speaking to The Portugal News Aníbal Soares, president of the Portuguese branch of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, said he would describe the tempest created by the critic as a ‘Portuguese caldeirada’ [fish stew] - “if it wasn’t derogatory to [the dish]” – as he has mixed “several issues that have nothing to do with gastronomy, from various eras of his life” and ultimately shown “great ignorance and totally irresponsible research.”


Referring to Coren’s “generalisation” that Portuguese hotels never serve national cuisine to foreign guests, Mr Soares said often hotel meal plans such as the popular ‘all-inclusive’ do not offer scope for ‘á la carte’ haute cuisine, but that likewise, many tourists “do not seek gastronomic experiences, but a healthy, quick meal that is not too different from their habits.”


And in response to Coren’s claims that he has eaten at various Portuguese restaurants and always with terrible outcomes, Soares quipped: “That would be his bad luck, were it believable.”


Mr. Soares – whose career in the industry spans decades and includes roles as CEO of several multinational food companies such as Nestle, in Portugal, Belgium, Angola, Brasil, as well as participating in gastronomic competitions as jury in Portugal, and France alongside internationally acclaimed chefs – said the writer seems to simply want to “denigrate” Chef Nuno Mendes, and “felt the need to attack Portugal as a whole”, which “annually sees a rise in the quality and quantity of tourists, which year-on-year increases the number of Michelin stars, and which in order to compete with the international world of gastronomy also must have a contemporary cuisine.”


The head of Portugal’s Chaîne des Rôtisseurs said he hopes positive responses from respected national and international gastronomic journalists with regard to Portuguese cuisine and Chef Nuno Mendes, prove “how misleading” Giles Coren’s article is.


He concluded by inviting the critic to “write to me – I will explain.”



Comments:

I was born in portugal, and I have lived there for the past 41 years, but I DO NOT share in the typically portuguese, and blatantly coward, effort to hide the far too many flaws of this place, or of its populace, behind a wall of empty (and obviously pointless) bravado.

Therefore I will speak the truth by saying this:

If anyone is looking for good good weather, culture, good food and good wine they can surely find it in France, or in some parts of Central Europe like (for instance) Hungary or even in Italy.

And if anyone just wants to get a cheap sunburn surrounded by noisy creatures that are (almost completely) illiterate (of their own choice) and regard soccer as their foremost religious manifestation, closely followed by the worship of the "Lady of Fatima" (the matron saint of female moustaches, of monobrows, of hairy armpits, of greasy hairstyles and of the purposely illiterate) while gobbling up (much too) salty food that is (over)cooked without (great) regard for hygiene along with some nasty plonk (wine) to wash it down which is (far too) often served by rude waiters, then they should come to "portageeland"/portugal for sure.

by João from Lisbon on 27-06-2019 08:41:00

hello everyone,
in my opinion, everyone should NOT criticizing the Portuguese cosine. gastronomy is part of a country's culture. every country has its best and worst dishes. For instance in Portugal, Portuguese stew is an excellent dish and very healthy as well. Also, in nazare has a very good sea food rice. however in the middle eastern countries the bread is excellent. for example, in England, English breakfast as well as the shepherd's pie are excellent. i hope everyone does not judge the Portuguese cosine or any other gastronomy of any other country due to the experience. i really recommend everyone to try different foods from different parts of Portugal before any judgement in this case. i am proud of being Portuguese and i have immigrated to Canada. in Canada there are really good foods as there are really bad foods. i love some foods as well as i dislike some foods. Also, sardines with corn bread and white wine go really well together. please before judging any judgement to anything, please don't go to only one restaurant as every restaurant cooks differently from one another.

by Ana Silva from Other on 24-06-2019 02:32:00

Portuguese cuisine is renowned for its seafood, often prepared in the simplest of manners; ask for fresh fish directly grilled over a slow fire, seasoned with lemon and rosemary, and you’ll enjoy one of the best meals in the country. Sometimes, however, a little technique is needed. Such is the case with

by Vibrators from USA on 22-05-2019 05:07:00

Hello.

From a girl who has eaten a lot in Portuguese restaurants and is a Portuguese herself - Portuguese main-street restaurants are either too cheap with the typical "we only have deep fried cod" or with gourmet stuff. You DO NEED to walk a few yards to encounter good restaurants.

Just because you cannot find the "best sea food" there is, that doesn't mean we don't have fresh fish. We do have fresh fish. I love fresh fish - it's an excellent alternative to red meat. The yummiest food I had was either at home bought by my grannie or by my uncles...or in the local small towns like Póvoa do Varzim, Amarante, Exposende. These are on the North.

By the way, I'll probably should inform any posh or pleb Brit that if you really want to taste good fish or meat, you should REALLY try to blend in with the locals. Learn some Portuguese, ask for the closest gastronomy festival (sponsored normally by small cities and towns which are not on the usual luxury Lisbon tourist pack).

Try to see any other freakin' town than Porto, Faro, and Lisbon. Seriously, if you keep complaining about the main street restaurants being meh or the luxury hotels not having the "typical Portuguese experience" that's because the real home-cooking granny restaurants were forced to get out due to the housing speculation in Lisbon.

by Catarina CASANOVA from Porto on 13-05-2019 04:17:00

I honestly thank that guy for the review. And I hope everyone who reads it doesn't come to this country. The damage tourists make to any destination doesn't make for that Instagram picture they take.

by Carlos from Lisbon on 03-05-2019 03:01:00

I have lived in Portugal for almost 5 years and love the country except for the food. It's incredibly bland and I've talked to locals about it many times. They say they don't want to change the taste of the original food.

It's the country where salt and pepper isn't automatically on the table and oil and vinegar for salad unless you ask for it. Am not talking about expensive tourist places.

by Michael Redbourn from Lisbon on 09-06-2018 02:48:00

Interested in fine dining restaurant and local produce and food

by Javier from Porto on 29-04-2018 09:42:00

Only been to Portugal once for ten days and the overall dining experience was terrible. I was expecting lots of good quality sea food but all we got was deep fried oily crap. The beef was exceptionally disgusting, probably the worst meat I've ever tried, the restaurant was packed with locals so we were pretty sure we weren't going to get crap put in front of us that time. I had to spit out the overly chewy beef. They actually like that stuff, I can't imagine eating that shite everyday. I live in Turkey where we expect very high standards at restaurants and the traditional food is %90 very very good quality. A restaurant like that wouldn't survive one lunchtime in Turkey, the owner would probably have to flee the country for serving crap like that. I guess liking Portuguese cuisine depends on the quality standards in your country. I understand why you would defend your cuisine instead of trying to do something about it. If you live in Portugal you are sure to like it as you are used to it that way.

by Andrew from Other on 27-05-2017 10:48:00

I'm in Portugal right now.

It really is pretty bland.

The pastries are decent, though.

by Anthony from USA on 17-12-2016 08:47:00

Amazing ignorance from Brit plebs who wouldn't know good food if it crawled up their asses and died there. Anyway, the photo in this article would lead to most people "judging from the Comments" into believing that is the photo of the extremely ignorant giles coren when infact it appears to be of the Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes.

by Jonas Cabanas from UK on 20-11-2016 09:23:00

I think Mr coren is absolutely right.. Portuguese food sucks.. British people still come for the sun, food is just secondary.. Over the years all tourist areas in the greed for profit,mainly restaurants, literally killed Portuguese food.. In summer food near the sea is just awful and overpriced, from Porto to Algarve. The last thing I want to see is our typicall restaurants (that we Portuguese know) full with people from France, Spain England etc.. That was the same to say that in a year they were converted to crap..

by Juliao from Other on 21-08-2016 03:50:00

Beef: Must be the worst in western world. Butchers tell me ageing beef is illegal. Can anyone confirm that ?

I find tender beef is one out of a dozen and no grading of beef so no way to choose. And the cutting - where does it come from - Mars ? Also, no brisket - butchers tell me it's all stolen at source.

Fresh fish: Where does all the good fish go - perhaps to Lisbon ? Almost never any fresh cod, haddock, sole, turbot, scallops, etc. When fresh cod is rarely found it is usually large and tough. And any grading of fresh cod - I doubt it.

Dried cod: One way to ruin cod, but expect the grade to begin with is the worst available.

Bacon: No decent Portugal bacon, back or belly - but fortunately available from UK in some markets.

I could go on and on, but what's the point. I expect most all Portuguese supermarket managers/buyers are totally ignorant of food in other countries and care less.

by Charles from Algarve on 27-06-2016 03:00:00

He can also find "english cuisine" in Portugal, where he can eat "that kind of food", if "that" means food to him.
We will reserve an "english cuisine" for him directly from the garbage basket.

by Jose Antonio Albuquerque Diad from Lisbon on 31-01-2016 12:01:00

I don't know if Portuguese food is the worst in the world but my downstairs neighbors cook Portuguese food all the time and the smell can only be described as a mixture of ammonia, vomit and burning truck tires. Every time I walk by a Portuguese restaurant, that disgusting smell assaults me.

I guess I'll never have the joy of actually tasting that disgusting food as the smell alone makes me gag.

by Merf from USA on 04-12-2015 02:22:00

Mr Coren, you're a moron!! How can you criticise Portuguese food when you're English and yet it is your country that has the worst traditional food on this planet. Seriously, are baked beans with a few slabs of bacon considered as good food? Perhaps some bangers and mash for lunch hey?
Just Google "Traditional English Food" and then "Portuguese Food" and view the results.
I am internationally well travelled (including Portugal) and I live in Melbourne Australia, one of the most multi-cultural cities on earth, full of restaurants and cuisine from all over the world, and I must say I have never seen an English Restaurant - anywhere! Why? Because traditional English cuisine is like eating dog food. Please note that I am stating "traditional food". What modern English chefs like Heston, J Oliver and Giles Coren are creating and showing on TV is NOT traditional English food, but rather a rip-off of cuisines from all over the world, including Portugal.
Let's also not forget history and how it was the Portuguese that started the spices trade into Europe from Asia and Africa. Without the Portuguese, Mr Coren would be driving a taxi with a fat gut from eating too many baked beams instead of being a food critic. Lol, what a joke you are! :) I'll eat Portuguese food any day before English or the over priced rubbish Mr Coren makes.

by Ed from Other on 16-11-2015 01:16:00

People who eat (and enjoy) marmite sandwiches find Portuguese food bland? How is spicy grilled peri peri chicken bland? How is cataplana de marisco, some of the world's best seafood or Portuguese style steak and chips bland? I once overheard an English tourist in the Algarve refusing to go and eat peri peri chicken because she didn't like the way it tastes. Is it Portuguese food that's bland or is it certain taste buds which are unaccustomed to delicious, flavourful food? As for Giles, please don't try and drag Portuguese food down to the level of English food because that won't improve English food the same way as Jamie Oliver cooking Italian food won't.

by Tom from Other on 28-09-2015 10:47:00

My advice to those who want to try genuine Portuguese food and not just ordinary food served in a restaurant in Portugal is to eat where the locals eat or where the truckers eat. It is usually in small, family run restaurants where the best food can be found. Tourist trap restaurants cater for tourists who are obviously clueless, and you won't find many Portuguese people eating there. However, some people's idea of a wonderful meal is a starvation ration portion of steak smothered in a boring mustard or pepper sauce with two or three small potatoes and maybe a bit of broccoli on the side in some fancy restaurant. That's not where you will find real Portuguese food. I too have left many Italian and Spanish restaurants utterly dissapointed, but i think the problem wasn't the cuisine but rather my choice of restaurants.

by Mario from Lisbon on 26-09-2015 06:54:00

Just returned from a trip to the Algarve region and Lisbon. My general impression is that the food in most 'traditional restaurants' is bland and unimaginative. However, I think maybe the problem is that there are just way too many tourist restaurants...there are excellent restaurants but percentage-wse they are rare.

by Andrew Roger from Other on 19-09-2015 12:32:00

Portuguese cuisine is far from the worst. In fact, it is one of the best cuisines in the world. For those who are as clueless as mr Coren about Portuguese food, here are some suggestions: bacalhau à braz, bacalhau com natas, bacalhau à gomes de sá (just 3 of many bacalhau recipes), caldeirada de peixe, lulas recheadas, caldeirada de lulas, carne de porco à alentejana, bife à portuguesa, leitão à bairrada, coelho à caçador, frango no churrasco (african influence), camarão com piri piri (african influence), feijoada à portuguesa (brazilian influence), chispalhada, espetadas, chanafana de cabrito, trinchado (a south african favourite), arrôz de marisco, and the best peixe grelhado. Its no wonder that Portuguese cuisine has influenced Brazilian, African, Indian, Thai and even Japanese cooking. Bom proveito!

by Mario from Lisbon on 16-09-2015 06:35:00

Dude you are totally clueless.. ! You are in the wrong profession. If your taste buds and sense of smell are not functioning then you have no business being a chef (specially calling yourself a chef). Time to change professions like cleaning a pig sty, which doesn't require taste buds and specially the sense of smell! Dum ASS!

by Cristina Jorge from USA on 05-08-2015 01:42:00

I continue to read comments here of people who are completely ignorant of the culture and the history of Portugal. Mr. Coren is an ignorant critic, or should I say a self labelled critic? He has no authority whatsoever to slander a country's food on this basis. I am ok to read a review on a restaurant that he dislikes, but when this becomes a personal attack to a country, without a justification it is beyond me. But if one remembers, English writers and public always liked a good slander and they do it consistently on various things they think they can just because there is an aura of superiority about it. It is completely unacceptable. Ignorance and slander should remain inside Mr. Coren's borders of Great Britain. He should use his power as a Times writer to write about the food industry in the UK, which is truly disgusting and the fact that you need to be rich to access good food in this country. Or the fact that the so called great supermarkets such as tesco, asda and so forth, sell sub standard food.? That would be a lot more constructive to his own country and culture. How about the levels of inequality? I could go on forever.

On another note for the people here that claim to live in Lisbon etc etc, please do understand something about the culture before you make a point. Your "I am afraid he is right" "or the food is not sophisticated", leave it as it is as Portuguese people like to go out and eat home cooked food. If you want sophisticated food please go and eat in Italy, Spain and other nations and let the Portuguese chefs take care of the cuisine. They have done a remarkable job so far.

Personal attacks to a country never work, condescending critics should not be allowed. If you want to have an opinion, understand the history and the culture and make an effort. Isn't that what you ask to people in your nation as well?

by Alexandre Cóias from UK on 02-08-2015 01:21:00

The man volunteers that he has been to Portugal DOZENS of times and he doesn't know why!!!
What does he know? Really...

by ARMANDO ESTUDANTE from USA on 26-07-2015 10:17:00

Think a restaurant critic needs some knowledge of what he/she is reviewing and think that lacks with this gentleman. To criticize a country's cuisine I think one should have an idea of how the dishes are actually suppose to be done.... try some homemade meals, try the country's star chefs, and ask locals where to eat. Portuguese abuse of fresh herbs and spices - our heritage has influenced our recipes. Keep in mind that like in every other country bland food is done by cheap kitchen helpers not chefs. So learn to pick restaurants 1st.

by Paula rato from USA on 26-07-2015 10:08:00

One thing I find interesting is that he does not seem to realize the variety of the Portuguese cuisine. It is a small country for sure, but people up north who have not spent much time outside their town have never had migas gatas. They'd probably hate them. Neither do they know how to make açorda à alentejana and would probably gag at the idea of wet bread. And in the south they might vomit at the idea of tripas à moda do Porto. From his article you'd think that in Portugal you cook 6 or 7 dishes and they're all nasty. Sometimes not being part of a culture gives you better perspective. Other times it hinders you from giving an adequate opinion. This is a case of the latter.

Also, he must have "mummy" & daddy issues. He says that as a child he felt neglected in Portugal, while on holiday, because his parents and other adults would get drunk and not pay enough attention to the kids to smear some sunscreen on them. "grown-ups [would] play Monopoly and drink rum and Coke, and the kids could burn so gruesomely that blisters bubbled up on our shoulders and we simmered visibly, like soups." I don't need to be an Austrian ol' man with a white beard and smoke a cigar to figure this one out. As Marcel Proust's madeleines remind us, we associate food with memories of emotional childhood experiences. This chef clearly did not like the way Portugal made him feel as a child and the food reminds him of that sense of discomfort and sadness. Now, one thing on which I fully agree with him that it is very unfortunate that the non-refrigerated carton milk has taken over the market. I personally hate it. As a kid, we always bought fresh milk, but it now expensive and even hard to find. It would be hard for a foreign child to be made to drink the non-refrigerated milk in Portugal, if not used to it. But, again, why bring up the milk when speaking of cuisine, unless you're somehow stuck in a negative childhood experience? To a grown-up milk is not "cuisine" as much as to a regular child milk is a large part of a daily diet. He clearly has unresolved childhood trauma and now he is taking it out on the food. Hey man, whatever it takes. Get your issues out there! :)

by Elisa Rubin from USA on 26-07-2015 04:00:00

This guy is creating buzz so he can make money. He has a new show coming out and needs to make waves to be noticed. Check out this article in the Globe and Mail - clearly shows his arrogance, and drive for success by saying outrageous things to get attention - and it's working.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/restaurant-critic-giles-coren-sacrifices-dignity-to-entertain/article20862150/

by Liza from Other on 26-07-2015 01:27:00

If you want to be a food critic, then you have to be willing to let go of any prejudice you have toward any ethnicity. You obviously have a prejudice against Portuguese people and their culture. Therefore I think you should search for another profession. I am very much Portuguese and some of the best foods are those of the times when people were poor and made do of what they had, it's history. I visited Mexico and some of the best food I ate was not from the resorts there but from a little dirty boy trying to make a buck on the streets with his mother's homemade tortillas and salsa. So you see you have done nothing but offend our culture! If you don't like Portuguese food that's fine but do not sit here and insult our people!

by Elizabeth Blanchette from USA on 26-07-2015 12:54:00

I just had a fabulous lunch at Antonio's in New Bedford, MA. I ordered a sirloin tips and shrimp stew, served over homemade potato crisps, and it blew me away. The beef broth was thick and just perfectly rich. It was simple but wonderful. The tips we're slow cooked to perfection, and the shrimp fresh. And the fresh "pop" ( Portuguese roll) for dipping into the sauce... My mouth waters as I type. It was my first experience in a Portuguese restaurant and I will be returning.

by Carrie Cunha from USA on 26-07-2015 07:08:00

You pompus jerk. I am of both Portugese and Italian decent. I am also a Chef. I draw from both my ethic backgrounds to produce delish food.

Anthony Boudain and Andrew Zimmerman have fallen in love with Portugese cuisine. I triple dog dare to come to Fall River Massachusetts and try any one of our award winning Portugese Restaurants and tour our Portugese Markets. As my guess. I will pay for the for the meal. All I ask in return, that if proven wrong. All I ask is that you write a rebuttal. What do you say?

by Gregory Primo from USA on 26-07-2015 06:37:00

I am american born but my mother is from ST Micheal Azores. Portuguese food is very good Mr. Coren is welcome to come to my house and I will cook him a few meals and put him to shame he insult the Portuguese people we did not insult England food How dare you said our food has no taste you sir have no taste buds. And you class that was the worst article written get a new job

by arleen correia-pires from USA on 26-07-2015 03:32:00

Apparently, this critic has no idea of real Portuguese cuisine, cooked in home with fresh ingredients overcooked or not. In tourist areas, of course food can be generic. I would ask, if you wanted a hamburger where would you go to get it? Most would go to fast food place, but I, among many would get the meat, grind it, season it, and grill it. We make our chops from scratch. Our food is rich and tasteful. Our fish is the freshest given the Atlantic Ocean. How van you compare. The Portuguese cuisine has influences from many cultures. Too bad you have such views. You should explore more. I wonder what he would say of the Italian cuisine? I am Portuguese, and certainly have had my share of restaurant food. One should not critic a nation's cuisine based on a few personal experiences.

by Aninhas Reis from USA on 26-07-2015 02:28:00

Mr. Coren is certainly entitled to his opinion, however if his review is in any way malicious against a specific individual that should be considered a misaligned review. In any case Mr. Coren should never return to portugal again if he has such distain for the country, and happily leave more food available to the people who enjoy it! Adieus Mr. Coren, don't come back!

by Estrella Pereira from Other on 26-07-2015 02:15:00

He has his opinion, and he's intitled to it, much like some of today's horrible terrorist organizations who claim that their views and practices are correct. Does it make their opinion the right one? Or some people who look at the mirror and think they are the God's gift to the opposite sex. Are their views shared by most people?
Pay no attention! Go and try for yourselves!
Bom apetite!

by F. Gomes from UK on 25-07-2015 08:15:00

Mr colin, if the poor make do with what they have, why do you have a problem with that? Do you want them to eat fillet steak marinated with the most basic salt and pepper, or boiled lobster with cheap garlic butter? Or better still, marmite sandwiches? The Portuguese are proud of their food unlike some people who would rather live on bland curries or tikka chicken masala.

by Realist from Algarve on 24-07-2015 08:25:00

I have never read such unmitigated rubbish
from a so called food critic or his followers !
Having lived here for 31 years I love good Portuguese food. Unfortunately the food in the tourist areas has been changed to suit the Northern European tourist palate. Even in the main tourist areas if you know where to go, can be found good local food and at a far more affordable price than UK ,which in the main is far more healthy and tasty than any meals which I have been faced with in the UK. However if you want posy "Fine Dining" with miniscule over priced portions, or burgers and chips, curry and chips etc stick to UK food, but If you want good Portuguese food, talk to the locals, taxi drivers and so on don't be put off by this so called expert plonker!

by Terry Piercey from Algarve on 23-07-2015 03:01:00

Indeed Mr Colin, the Portuguese are masters at making use of what rich nations simply discard (food wastage) and making it taste superb. Do you even know of any Portuguese dishes besides maybe sardines or chouriço? Meanwhile, Northern Europeans rely on immigrants from countries like Portugal, Italy, Spain, India or China to save them from their dull and boring cuisine by introducing them to a bit of garlic, chilies, herbs or olive oil. If any cuisine could use vast amounts of improvement, it is Northern European cuisine and British cuisine in particular. Perhaps overcoming the garlic phobia would be a start.

by Another food critic from Algarve on 23-07-2015 12:45:00

Having lived here for over twenty years the one thing I find irritating about the Portuguese is that they are unable to cope with any form of criticism. They recoil, aghast, and say that "but this is our culture, this is how we have always done it, if you don't like it go away" - they are stupid and not willing to learn or take advice.
Most Portuguese live on a diet of fish and overcooked vegetables. The poor eat shellfish (cockles and clams) and snails with cabbage and flavoured with garlic and salt. They also eat parts of pig, chicken, etc. which I would not feed to my dog. Even the best quality chouriço does not contain any meat - it is pig's ears, lips, tails and a variety of offal flavoured with garlic and paprika.
The supermarkets here are now stocked with superb meat and vegetables at a relatively low price but the Portuguese have no interest in orchestrating these ingredients with herbs and spices into wonderful dishes. Given the choice of cooking a pork fillet stuffed with mushrooms, smoked bacon and prunes and cooked in a sauce made with cream, sage and marsalla they would prefer a thin watery stew of chicken feet, gizzards and cock's combs with cabbage and garlic - they are, literally, barbarians when it comes to food and are only interested in filling their stomachs at the lowest possible price.
The only half decent food here is that served by restaurants with international cuisine costing €30 - €50 per head.
Ever heard of anyone coming to Portugal for the cuisine? No, I thought not.

by Colin from Algarve on 22-07-2015 06:02:00

We can all be food critics because we all have tongues. We don't all need to be told by the so called 'food critics' what is good food and what isn't. Some things taste good to some people but taste bad to others. Haggis might be tasty to the Scottish but is considered something to be avoided by most people. However, to go to a single restaurant and judge a nation's entire cuisine on what you ate there is not what you would expect from someone calling themselves an expert on food. Maybe garlic isn't to his taste like with most Northern Europeans, but no Southern European country can do without it. What i find strange is that you will find Portuguese, French, Italian or Indian restaurants in most countries but you will struggle to find a British, German or Swedish one anywhere except maybe in those countries. Do i sense an inferiority complex on Mr Coren's part? However, being the expert, Perhaps Mr Coren would be able to explain why.

by Another food critic from Algarve on 22-07-2015 01:28:00

Those who agree with the lusophobe mr Coren are as clueless as he is. The worst food in the world? Worse than North European food or American food which is unhealthy junk? You can't judge a book by the cover. Portuguese food is more than cataplana or piri piri chicken. There are more than 100 diferent ways to prepare bacalhau alone, and we do use herbs, principally cilantro, rosemary, bay leaf and oregano. It is ignorant people who don't know nothing about Portuguese food who make these stupid claims. Before you give your opinions, maybe you should inform yourself. Especially those who live in restaurants because the can't even fry an egg.

by Rui Marques from Other on 21-07-2015 01:45:00

Criticism also givs way for improvement , doesn´t it? I´m Swedish, have lived here for a year now, and sad to say, I quite agree on some of the criticism given to the Portuguise kitchen. In most cases I cook way better food myself at home, than I get going to a restaurant, and I use the same brilliant meat and fish as the restaurants do. I would like to see Portuguise cooks picking up influences from other international kitchens, and blend in the best of them to improve the Portuguise food. It really needs it, if you ask me. So, I guess my head is in the noose now, but take it as a friendly reminder that nothing is so good that it cannot be improved.

by Jan Wiklund from Algarve on 21-07-2015 09:27:00

Has this gentleman ever been to a portuguese restaurant? I don't think so because if he had he would certainly not make that type of comments.

by Tercia Moreira from UK on 20-07-2015 10:34:00

It saddens me to see the angry (even vicious) personal attacks on Mr. Coren who, despite what some seem to think, is an internationally-acclaimed food writer from a prestigious publication. He wouldn't hold that position if he were ignorant or uninformed about the relative strengths-and-weaknesses of cuisine of nations like (but certainly not limited to) Portugal. However, many respondents have also taken to attacking British food, making points that are as nasty in tone as they are irrelevant to the point of Mr. Coren's article. I think what these respondents are doing is confusing (1) English food as it has sometimes been over the years (and sadly is still available in some quarters in the UK) with (2) food that is available in, say, London or the other large cities. Yes, British food could be pretty disturbing, especially back in the bad old days of the 1970s, but today...London has world-class international cuisine available. Just think of the chefs who call London home: Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, to name only a few. (I say this an an American who has no stake in the fight.) One of the advantages Britain has over Portugal is that it is home to...enormous immigrants communities from all over the world. Why does this matter? The immigrants who run restaurants in the UK know that they had better serve authentic cuisine or...they will be out of business. (Just think of delights to be had in, say, Hounslow or South Hall.) In Lisbon (a city where I have lived for many years), the immigrant communities are too small to have a critical mass and therefore restauranteurs (Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) have to cater to the Portuguese population or...they will be out of business. In this connection, the food is bound to be more bland and less exciting than the real thing. Although Portugal has extraordinary produce (fish, foul, red meat, and all manner of vegetables), the Portuguese palette remains unaccustomed to the magic that can be achieved by incorporating a few imaginatively worked herbs or spices. (This is not lost on the Italians or French.) My wife says that the Portuguese fish one finds in coastal restaurants remind her of...cat food. Portuguese produce: so much promise but all so poorly spoken for.

by Robert Stinerock from USA on 20-07-2015 03:09:00

An opinion is just that: an opinion. It is not a fact! If someone's taste is not enough sensitive to feel the Portuguese flavours, it is a pitty for him, but not a problema for the Portuguese Cousine, which is fantastic! I have some italian friends that are always asking m to send them portuguese cheese, olive oil, chouriço, wine and bread. I wonder if Mr Coren has tasted cow tongue, cow leaver, feijoada, almond deerts from Algarve, Xanfana de Cabrito from all the North of Portugal. Maybe he has never been in Serpa to taste the fantatic Requeijão (kind of cheese similar to italian Ricotta) nor in Seia to taste the world known Queijo da Serra. Please travel more or ask your colegue Chef Ljubomir Stanisic, who has wrote a big book about portuguese delicious food!!! In my opinion your Mr Coren is very much ignorant about portuguese food and typical ingridients, he did not even mentioned all the smoked meat and fish we have!.... but this is just an opinion.

by Rita Pereira Coutinho from Lisbon on 19-07-2015 07:14:00

Mr. Coren is a food critic and evaluating food is his job; hence knowledgeable to write for the prestigious newspaper.
I’ve lived in Portugal for many years and I’m not surprised at the outrage from Portuguese regarding criticism of their food. The Portuguese truly believe that their food is the best in the world. Even my French friends have never made such a statement. The Portuguese produce is fabulous and meat, lamb, pork, fish is excellent. I cooked at home with rosemary, sage and herbs but the Portuguese destroy by cooking it to death and salt is their taste enhancer. The Portuguese have a saying that they “suffer vegetables” so their food lacks any contrast of textures, taste and colour. My surprise at finding the Portuguese kitchens empty of any herbs and spices was confusing until I directly commented and was startled to hear that they don’t like to put any “condiments” to spoil the food. Consequently, the cooking has remained primitive just a one-note tune unlike the symphony that Italian, French, Thai, Korean or Chinese food can create. One of their best Chinese restaurants serves dishes without vegetables or Chinese spices and the Portuguese insist that it is the best Chinese in the world! My Italian friend who is married to a Portuguese and has lived the past 25 years in Lisbon told me that to get authentic Italian food I would have to go to Italy. The Indian restaurant surprisingly served no vegetables but only bland heavy food saying that they wanted to stay in business. When primitive people discovered salt it was used not only as a preservative but also as taste enhancer. The Portuguese have not changed much from that, the pork is grilled to death curled up dried leather and served at even a fancy club frequented by the elite! No herbs, but plenty of salt, and everyone enjoying it. Surprisingly we did find that their grilled chicken is really good. We love their soups, the best in the world! The Flan is superb and the Christmas Sonhos are just marvelous. My husband and I loved eating in good restaurants in Italy, U.K., New York, India and Paris irrespective of whether the food was western or Asian. The surprise of how the mixture of herbs and spices enhanced the food was always titillating to the palate. In Portugal I always had a knot in my stomach when my husband suggested a meal out ! What is most astonishing is that in spite of their several colonies the Portuguese have not incorporated much at all unlike the U.K. which has embraced and incorporated from different cultures. The Portuguese have not even absorbed anything from their neighbours, Italy or France in food preparation. In U.K. you can get a variety of excellent authentic ethnic food even from their street vendors. I miss the figs and the cherries and caldo verde, the soups and coffee. But to crack an egg on an otherwise fantastic Tomato soup is the Portuguese notion of ……

by JStroberg from Other on 19-07-2015 02:50:00

Although a little harsh he is generally correct, most
of the restaurants and cafes all serve the same sort of things, all on cold plates, and usuallybland. The concept of hot food on hot plates just does not happen. I live here so do speak from experience.

by Jeff Tovey from Lisbon on 19-07-2015 12:36:00

I only discovered Portugal ten years ago, I am now 67. I have to say that I find Portuguese food absolutely fantastic. My only exception is bacalau. I tried leitão assado for the first time a few weeks ago, absolutely fantastic. Everywhere you can get frango grelhado, caldo verde & caldeirada I could happily live on them alone, as long as I had some of the traditional breads.

by Steve Cook from UK on 19-07-2015 10:48:00

Has this man ever heard of leitão à bairrada, carne de porco à alentjana, caldeirada de peixe, frango no churrasco, espetadas, arrôz de marisco, cataplana de marisco, feijoada, salada de polvo, chanfana de cabrito, bacalhau com natas or the fish and seafood (too mention but a few) for which Portugal is famous? Or is he only into his banger and mash or fish and chips? Don't play with fire unless you are willing to get burned senhor coren.

by Mario lopes from Lisbon on 18-07-2015 11:14:00

Has this man ever heard of leitão à bairrada, carne de porco à alentjana, caldeirada de peixe, frango no churrasco, espetadas, arrôz de marisco, cataplana de marisco, feijoada, salada de polvo, chanfana, bacalhau com natas or the fish and seafood (too mention but a few) for which Portugal is famous? Or is he only into his banger and mash or fish and chips? Don't play with fire unless you are willing to get burned senhor coren.

by Mario lopes from Lisbon on 18-07-2015 11:09:00

Apart from your great stupidity I have the pleasure to invite you to come here to Algarve, to my house and give you the opportunity to learn about Portuguese food!!!! Do you learn that's simply one of the best in the world!!!

Thank you

by Roberto conde from Algarve on 18-07-2015 06:31:00

I am living in Portugal after France and the UK for over 15 years. Being a gourmet myself, and having tried so many restaurants all over the country from tascas to michelin stars restaurants, I am convinced that Portugal is the an amazing place to eat fish and seafood as well as other meat dishes. Why add sauces and complexities when The country is blessed with exceptional produce. You only meed only oil to cook a beautiful fish. I love the food, I love Portugal :)

by Myriam from Lisbon on 18-07-2015 06:27:00

What a idiot he is clueless about food .Portuguese food is one of the best in Europe. Where did he eat at some pub serving English breakfast?? Or KFC??

by Alan from Algarve on 18-07-2015 05:19:00

Two portuguese Restaurants won 2 awards from the Monocle Magazine:
http://constancia.net/website/211/index.htm

by Luis Gonçalves from Other on 18-07-2015 02:56:00

Food critics like movie critics are people with no skills who could not get a rel job iftheir lives depended on it.

The author is not qualified when he ports a week old beard that has been in style for the last 30 years.

Most restaurants offer working people food that people can afford and fill their stomachs. The author obvously doe not understand the difference between gourmet food everyday food that most of us eat. There is a snobishness in some circles about food that is pathetic, that is how and why newspapers hire out of work english majors as food or movie critics.

by Joao coelho from Algarve on 18-07-2015 12:52:00

Mr coren is ignorant. Portuguese food is not about trying to improve what is already perfect. That honour falls to American food: babacue, kentucky fried fat and mac card board. However, being British, i'm not surprised by mr Coren's rants. What else would you expect from a country whose national dish is a cheap bottle of wine?

by realist from Algarve on 18-07-2015 11:59:00

Perhaps mr cohen thinks Portuguese food is a cheap bottle of wine (England's staple diet). Even England's fish and chips is partly a Portuguese invention. However, most people i know would choose a spicy nandos peri peri chicken over fish and chips drowned in vinegar. Oh The joys of ignorance.

by foodido from Other on 18-07-2015 10:55:00

Dear Sir,

All the world know that the worst kitchen is U.K. kitchen.

I will agree that portuguese kitchen is not very sexy but the worst I have eaten is still british cooking.

by Kreisman from Algarve on 18-07-2015 10:34:00

as a chef in algarve i agree that the food is not that good nor is the quality.the food is not portuguese it is international , the cooks are not profisional they are kichen helpers.the prices are to high.the restaurant owners only want to fill their pockets nothing else matters, they get away with it because 90 percent of the english dont no what is good food.

by tony from Algarve on 18-07-2015 12:57:00

Mr Coren stick to your fish and oily chips and we'll enjoy our good Portuguese food.

by Paula da Silva from Other on 17-07-2015 11:17:00

Portuguese can be proud in that their food genuine and true to its culture and not a country that has lost its cuisine. The Portuguese cuisine is made of natural ingredients and not processed food! It is not ment for the uneducated or jaded palate. Our cuisine is honest and not manipulated to please those with limited taste. It is unfortunate that your experiences have not been good, but your comments reflect irresponsibility and void of any true knowledge about Portuguese cuisine. Coren do not bother eating in Portugal again without informing yourself about the history, culture and society!

by Victoria from Lisbon on 17-07-2015 09:26:00

Santa ignorância! Mr Giles, keep on having your frosties with tesco milk. And maybe some education in order to be a food critic would also be in order. Did you get dumped by your partner for a Portuguese or something?

by BG from UK on 17-07-2015 08:18:00

I almost totally agree with this opinion :) I've been living in Portugal for 7 years, and really, but really tried out a lots of restaurant.... What is on the menu? Meat and fish. NOTHING else. There is no a good vegetarian food, there is no a good pasta, or other possibility to eat. I don't eat meat, so I tried seafood. Well...grills are ok, but nothing special if they find out the quantity of sal. But one-course meals....oh my good. Tastelesses! But....english food is worst :D

by Magdolna from Lisbon on 17-07-2015 07:27:00

What a worthless waste of space of a so called journalist.
British food in comparison can't hold a light to good Portuguese cuisine, he doesn't have a clue what he is talking about, give me Portuguese food any day compared to the boring Brit variety.

by Terry Piercey from Algarve on 17-07-2015 07:09:00

Quick name a great English dish besides porridge! Food critics from the Kingdom should stick to their domain, like boiled mutton and kidney pie! It appears the gentleman is judging the food by his lily white skin during his vacation in the Algarve beach resorts.

by Antonio Braganca from Alentejo on 17-07-2015 07:03:00

How is it possible that an Englishman criticizes the Portuguese cuisine? The worst cuisine in Europe can be found in England and nowhere else!

by Andre Oremus from Other on 17-07-2015 06:24:00

Speaking as someone who lives in Portugal, i also find Portuguese Cuisine to be a bit of an oxymoron, however to say its the worst on Earth is nowhere near true, Have you not eaten in Peru or Chile? the food in Portugal after being here for 8 years, has not really improved since we first visited 28 years ago, and is Bland and Crucified nearly always, the choice of desserts is stuck in the 50's and no-one shows any imagination, however I think the main reason for all this is that its a very poor country and people eat out for convenience and necessity rather than pleasure, we now eat out on very rare occasions indeed, to make good food you first need good ingredients, and thats the first thing not available. either it Bacalhau or Pork or Chicken, or unimaginatively baked or Grilled whole fish always overcooked or crucified till its definitely dead. I am hoping they will start to improve as we do see a few more ingredients available in the shops these days.

by Paul Callaghan from UK on 17-07-2015 05:31:00

I'm afraid I agree with him....we live in the centre near Coimbra and eating out is always a disappointment. We have had a couple of excellent meals in Porto though, but we expect good food in cities. But it was only a couple in well regarded restaurants. Mainy the food is bland, boring and usually overcooked.

by sue callaghan from Other on 17-07-2015 05:25:00

I am afraid that I have to agree with Mr. Coren. Over the course of the last 23 years, I have spent 7 of them in Cascais, Lisbon, and Estoril, and have found that (for the most part) the cuisine is inevitably disappointing and unimaginative. The variety runs the gamut from A to B; there is little in the way of the "big flavors" that characterize authentic Indian, Chinese, or Mexican cuisines; nor is there very much in the way of sophistication and imaginative uses of, say, herbs and spices. Salt is not a flavor, but rather a flavor..enhancer. On the positive side, the quality of the produce is superb, especially when it is in season. I have never encountered better strawberries, cherries, figs, clementines anywhere; even the quality of the meat and fish is superior. My only complaint lies with the uses to which these excellent ingredients are put. I love the bread (none better, even in France or Italy), and the coffee I personally feel is some of the world's best. I have recently returned to my home city of New York (Manhattan), and I still go to some trouble to travel to Newark, New Jersey...to buy the excellent coffees that are available in the extensive Portuguese neighborhood in that city. But for better southern European cuisine, I prefer France, Italy, and even Spain. I leave aside the superior choices available in the world-class "world" cities
of London in New York. Even Lisbon cannot compete with those cosmopolitan centers....

by Robert Stinerock from USA on 17-07-2015 05:12:00

This guy has no idea what Portuguese food is really like. He is taking about what he does not know and in doing so he has manage to insult a nation. For shame. I am a Portuguese living in the UK and the best food I have ever had was back home in Lisboa. Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa the way my mum makes or Lulas Recheadas from dad, or Caldeirada Algravia from granddad. The real Portuguese cookery is in the homes where recepies are passed from mother to daughter and father to son. Where traditions are continued and carried on. I advise this guy to keep his mouth shut and educate himself.
Cosinha Portuguese e a melhor da Europa.

by Coralia ( Cory) da Silva Sanuade from UK on 17-07-2015 04:16:00

I think this man is talking out of his backside portuguese food is lovely,he has obviously gone to the wrong places.

by shelagh compton from Algarve on 17-07-2015 03:33:00

I have visited the Algarve for 15 years and has seen a rapid development in food service. It's years since watery potatoes and vegetables were standard with fish. Have Mr Coren visited Portuguese restaurants in the past and based his assessment on years back ?? for me it sounds like it. It's easy to find excellent food in Portugal - both beach restaurants, hotels or bistro / bars. Mr Coren must have had a (or more) bad days on his journey.

by Ellen Thorvaldsen from Other on 17-07-2015 02:55:00

This individual has no idea of what he is talking about. I am sure that he has never been to taste the delicatessens in Portugal, as you cannot take for granted that a said Portuguese restaurant in London serves typical Portuguese food. All my international friends are always asking when is my wife preparing Portuguese food, as they just love it.

by George da Silva from Other on 17-07-2015 01:57:00

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”
― Aristophanes

The Times should hire someone with the sense of taste... and politeness is welcome in every profession.

by Jose Santos from Lisbon on 17-07-2015 01:40:00

Coren is a journalist who's role is to create stories and sell them. This is what he has done; albeit in a way designed to engender outrage and controversy. His boyhood experiences of irresponsible sun-burn and drinking are hardly relevant to today's Portugal. OK so he did not like the restaurant he went to in L ondon - so what?

It is just his ill informed and dis ingenuous opinion.

by john hotten from Other on 17-07-2015 10:15:00

My first experiences of cozinha portuges were ufavourable, especially the bacalau, carapau/sardines and cheese. However, with time and a little appreciation, I now find the local specialities (barring those 3) delicious. Even the home-made soup is now a favourite. Francesinha may not be to everybody's taste, although it is tasty!
Cakes can be good, but don't measure up to Brit bakeries or continental conditoreis.
One has to be selective when it comes to local chorizo and salami, but that also applies in Espanha, where not all dishes are delicious either.
That said, I can't abide black pudding, tripe, kidney, liver (except pate) and other Pommy favourites.
For DIRE food, try Malay (not Malaysian). I have actually been served raw liver and great lumps of cold fat in Thailand (Krabbi). Thought they were taking the micky, til I saw the locals loving it..
Restaurants can serve up highly individual creations, of course. Check out Praia Verde, Faro prov, if money no object.. Haut cuisine abounds.
Chacun a son gout!

by Marie Virginia from Algarve on 17-07-2015 09:58:00
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