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The Disastrous Pastry Episode of Lisbon, Portugal

My brother hurled the paper bag to the floor with a thud.

“What the heck is that?” I asked, fearful.

My brother put his head in his hands and wailed: “I had such high hopes!”

The Portuguese pastry that defeated us.
The Portuguese pastry that defeated us.

I reached into the bag and pulled out: a bright orange, seven-inch long stalagmite of sugar, egg… and what felt a lot like lead. (Visual representation above.)

At the entity’s head, there were the clear bite marks of an admirable eating effort. Gazing at my sibling, however, one thing was clear: pastry had defeated man.

“I thought it would be all light and fluffy…” my brother moaned, rubbing his tummy.

A woman passing through the hostel dorm laughed. “Most of Portuguese pastry is egg plus sugar,” she said. “It ain’t light!”

Portuguese pastries.
Portuguese pastries.

It is worthwhile to note at this point that my brother and I are giants (six feet and six foot six), partially due to an unadulterated adoration of food of all sorts. And indeed, we have LOVED Portuguese food! But it is also important to note that cuisine here in Portugal seems to be meat and potato-obsessed… which is then rounded off with pastries, pastries, and more pastries. Abundant green veggies? We had to buy and cook them ourselves.

Now back to the stalagmite pastry drama.

“Try some,” said my brother, a somewhat evil smile playing on his lips.

Being hardcore, I took a test nibble. “SUGAR! SUGAR SUGAR SUUU-GAAAR!!!” the confection screamed into my veins. I tried a few more munches before tumbling into a faint on the floor.

A pastry shop in Portugal.
A pastry shop in Portugal.

“See what I mean?” panted my brother. The pastry cackled in victory as I nodded.

But be happy, dear readers. We are Olympic-level eaters, and we fought back! The next day, we went for a five-hour walk in the Alfama district of lovely Lisbon (highly recommended!), and took a calculated pastry break. At last, we figured out which treats are the most delicious to us amid the golden mounds gracing the windows and cases… and we ate them all, blissfully happy.

End score?

Orange Stalagmite Lead Pastry: 2

Me and My Brother: 200!


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Kristin R

Friday 13th of March 2020

Love this story!! I must be honest and bar one pastry in a beachside town near Lisbon I only ate Pasteis de Nata the entire trip!!

Andrew Medhurst (@itsMr_med)

Saturday 23rd of August 2014

Continental 'abroad' does not give the choice for vegetarians provided here at home in England. My Portuguese holiday last year revolved around the Italian staples of pizza, pasta, salad and wine. No bad thing.


Sunday 27th of January 2013

Loved Portugal! By the time we left- we were fished out though. We are vegetarians and all we ate was fish and potatoes. But oh what fun!!!


Sunday 27th of January 2013

Ooo yes a lot of potatoes...

Christine Y.

Monday 21st of May 2012

If I ever went there, I would have gain like ten pounds in a week.

Annabella Bautista

Friday 2nd of December 2011

If most of Portuguese pastry is egg plus sugar, then wouldn’t that mean most of their pastries are fattening. I guess most Portuguese people like sugary foods, with egg. Like Malaysia said it was a heart attack waiting to happen. That’s amazing in Portugal they make seven-inch long pastries. :)

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