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Travel File: São Miguel Island

The Azores are 9 islands with green grassy slopes rolling down to a blue Atlantic, ringed by black volcanic rocks. My friends and I recently returned from an amazing trip to São Miguel island. Here are some of the delicious local foods we ate.

Azorean cuisine is more country rustic than mainland Portugal’s. The food is simpler than the complex flavors of Portuguese cuisine. Common food or dishes include:

1. DAIRY: The Azores are famous for their rich dairy products. Cows are used for milk more than meat. Cheese is probably the best-known local product here. It is so good you find it commonly in mainland Portugal (50% of their cheeses come from the Azores).

2. PINEAPPLES: We visited the Arruda pineapple plantation to see the “Ananas” growing in greenhouses. These pineapples take TWO YEARS to grow! They are so sweet and delicious - frequently seen on the menu of Azorean restaurants for dessert. As an added bonus, pineapples contain the powerful bromelain enzyme that helps to break down proteins!

3. CARBS: Don’t get me started. We ate our weight in “bolo levedo”, a local flatbread that’s a dead ringer for an English muffin (but bigger and sweeter!). Interestingly, I found myself better able to handle eating white bread here, compared to North America. There is some evidence that suggests that some of our gluten intolerances in Canada/US are actually intolerances to the glyphosate (herbicide used in our crops)….since that herbicide is banned in Europe and not found in their yummy breads. (Shock emoji)

4. TEA: The only tea plantation in Europe is in the Azores. We visited the Chá Gorreana tea planation where we took a tour (vintage equipment at work!), and sampled signature orange pekoe and green tea.

5. COZIDO: A Portuguese stew cooked by digging a hole in the volcanic ground near the famous hot geysers of Furnas. We tried the grilled variety of this, slow cooked on an open grill all day. It was amazing - we never even saw a menu! They kept coming with plates of food from the grill with unlimited sides of salad. It was one of our best meal experiences by far. After lunch, we strolled down to the hot springs and botanical gardens there. Highly recommend @aquintafurnas


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