Food Groups

Exploring food groups is a convenient way to help us learn European Portuguese food vocabulary in a more organized way.

Dairy Products

First let’s look at some laticínios paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio dairy products

  • o leite paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio milk
  • o iogurte paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio yogurt
  • o queijo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cheese
  • a manteiga paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio butter
  • o gelado paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio ice cream
  • a nata paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cream

Leite, iogurte, and queijo are a part of many Portuguese people’s breakfasts and snacks. Queijo, in particular, is very important and there are several tasty varieties. As for leite, there are 3 main types:

  • Leite magro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Skimmed milk – Very low fat content
  • Leite meio-gordo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Semi-skimmed milk – Medium fat content
  • Leite gordo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Whole milk – High fat content

Fruits and Vegetables

Next we’ll explore frutos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio fruits and legumes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio vegetables
Frutos is the proper, scientific term for plant structures that carry seeds, but you will probably hear fruta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio fruit or frutas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio fruits more often in daily life. (Fruta is a collective noun, so either word can be used to refer to fruit as a category.) Frutos would, scientifically, include tomatoes, even though we often consider them to be vegetables. In Portugal, fruits can be added to salads or treated as sobremesas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio desserts or snacks.
Comeste fruta hoje? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Did you eat fruit today?
Os legumes paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Vegetables are included in most meals, as part of saladas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio salads or sopas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio soups. They include vegetables, cooked or raw, and also leafy greens, like as alfaces paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio lettuces and as couves paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cabbages. You’re probably asking yourself why don’t we use the word vegetais for vegetablesand that’s because we reserve that word for when we are talking about plants. 
Let’s see some examples of fruits and vegetables:

  • o morango paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio strawberry
  • a laranja paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio orange
  • o ananás paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio pineapple
  • a banana paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio banana
  • a maçã paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio apple
  • o tomate paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio tomato
  • a alface paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio lettuce
  • a cenoura paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio carrot
  • o pepino paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cucumber
  • a cebola paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio onion

Beans

We use as leguminosas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio beans, legumes to refer to all kinds of beans. (I guess because the word legumes was already taken for vegetables…) Beans are present in a wide variety of Portuguese dishes. Here are a few common examples:

  • o grão de bico paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio chickpea grãos de bico paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio chickpeas
  • o feijão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio bean feijões paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio beans
  • a ervilha paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio pea ervilhas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio peas
  • o amendoim paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio peanut amendoins paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio peanuts
  • a lentilha paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio lentil lentilhas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio lentils
  • a soja paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio soy

Meat

When it comes to a carne paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio meat, you can have:

  • As carnes vermelhas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Red meats which include a carne de porco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio pork and a carne de vaca paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio beef
  • A carne branca paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio White meat which includes a carne de aves paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio poultry meat and fish.

Notice how carne de vaca paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio beef translates to beef? In Portuguese, there isn’t a word for beef, so we use vaca paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cow whether we’re talking about the cow or its meat. The same goes for o porco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio pork, o peru paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio turkey, and o frango paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio chicken. The same words are used to refer to both the meat and the animal.
Now, be careful because the Portuguese word bife paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio steak looks and sounds very similar to beef, but it actually means “steak”. It is sometimes even used to refer to steaks made from the meat of other animals, as in “bife de porco”, not just the steaks made from cows.

Fish

Being a coastal nation, Portuguese cuisine is spectacularly rich in o peixe paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio fish and o marisco paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio seafood
We don’t think of fish as having meat. We only use a carne paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio meat and os ossos paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio bones when we refer to land animals. Instead, we call the meat of a fish o peixe paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio fish, like the animal, and we call its bones as espinhas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio bones, spines
O bacalhau paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Cod is the most popular fish in Portugal and can be found in hundreds of different dishes. Below you can find some of the most common species of fish and seafood present in our cuisine:

  • o bacalhau paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cod
  • a sardinha paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio sardine
  • o atum paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio tuna
  • o salmão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio salmon
  • o carapau paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio mackerel
  • o polvo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio octopus
  • o camarão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio shrimp, prawn
  • o mexilhão paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio mussel
  • a amêijoa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio clam
  • a lagosta paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio lobster

Grains

Now let’s see a list of different cereais paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio cereals, grains

  • o trigo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio wheat
  • o milho paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio corn
  • a aveia paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio oat
  • a cevada paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio barley
  • o arroz paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio rice

Os cereais are very much present in our daily lives. They are the basis for our everyday breakfast cereals, especially for kids. They are used to make farinha paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio flour, which is then used to make massa paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio pasta, or the very traditional broa de milho paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio corn bread, for example.
They’re also part of our second most favorite drink, as cevada is the main ingredient in cerveja paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio beer

  • Great idea! I added them. Note that the plural exists for all these words, but it’s not commonly used in some cases. For example, we’d say “grãos de arroz” (rice grains) instead of “arrozes”, or “sementes de soja” (soy seeds) instead of “sojas”.

  • Bife can be a beef steak- bife de vaca. A pork steak – bife de porco. Even a fish steak – bife de atum ( tuna ).

  • Eu achava que “abacaxi” é palavra correta pra dizer “pineapple”. Todos pessoas em Portugal usam “ananás” pra dizer “pineapple”?

    • No dia a dia, “abacaxi” usa-se mais no Brasil. Em Portugal, normalmente usamos “ananás”, mas entendemos as duas palavras 🙂 São duas palavras para a mesma fruta, ou, para algumas pessoas, para variedades diferentes da mesma fruta.

  • Can yo please explain the difference between “frango” and “galinha”?
    I know there are Galinha restaurants, but do I ask for Frango if I want to eat chicken?

    • “Frango” is what we call a young “galinha” (or “galo”). Many people will say “frango” and “galinha” interchangeably, but these are different things – or rather, the same animal at different ages. Both types of meat can be found, but “frango” is the most common.

  • Hello. What is the difference between Grão and Feijão. They both seem to refer to beans. Thank you.

    • Hi, Scott. “Grão” is a general term for “grains” (apart from “grão-de-bico”, which is chickpea). “Feijão” is the proper word for beans.

  • Wow this is helpful. That has been one of my challenges here is grocery shopping. I usually have to open my translate app and use the camera to translate what is on the label.

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