So far, I cannot really say that I have had many memorable food experiences. A typical Portuguese diet is similar to the US, just with a little more seafood. Yogurt is also very popular for whatever reason; the supermarket has two aisles just for yogurt. Weird.
Consequently, I do not have any strange, exotic foods to talk about; however, I do have a drinking story worth sharing (not what you think). I spent the weekend in Misarela, a small village located in the far North of the country. The village is probably the smallest community that I have visited, consisting of about twenty houses and a café. Despite its size, Misarela is a surprisingly popular destination due to a Ponte do Diabo, a Roman-era bridge that overlooks a waterfall.
The bridge got its name because its builders, according to legend, struck a bargain with the Devil. The people of Misarela made a living by making wine; however, the vineyards were on the other side of the river. A group of men was given the task of building a bridge, but they quickly found this to be impossible. With no other options, they summoned the Devil.
The Devil agreed to construct the bridge, in exchange for the life of whoever was the first to cross. The men agreed and a beautiful, stone bridge appeared. However, no one would cross the bridge. Not until one of the builders figured out how to cheat the Devil. The villagers forced a cat to walk across the bridge, which was then taken by the Devil. With the curse lifted, the villagers could reach their vineyards with ease.
Each year, people of Misarela honor the cat by holding a festival in its honor. The main event is a reenactment of the story, which includes contortionists dressed as cats and a 10-foot-tall sculpture of the Devil that spits fire. They also drink a liquor called aguardente bagaceira, which is made from fermented grape skins. There is some tie-in with the legend, though this part was not clear to me.