Remembering the Holidays: Portuguese Egg-Custard Tarts.

Culture Food

People go about their holiday-planning in different ways. Some people like to focus their travels on visiting tourist attractions; others prefer to spend their time lounging at the beach, while others might enjoy doing vigorous activities like hiking or scuba-diving. I for one — and you may have guessed this from the title — enjoy going around and trying the local cuisine, wherever I am.

The food that perhaps shocked (and delighted) me the most were Portuguese Egg-Custard Tarts. I still remember stopping at a gas station during our 3hour drive up to Lisboa and trying my first egg-custard tarts. They were only around €3 each, and not even warm, but they were still the most delicious things I had ever had in my entire life. My parents and I bought six more on our way out and ate them all in the car, spilling cinnamon and sugar powder everywhere — it was so worth the messiness.

If I thought those egg tarts were good, I had no idea what Portugal had in store for me. Within the next couple of days, we visited Lisboa, the capital of Portugal located on its western coastline. There, we first visited the National Archaeology Museum (I am a history nerd), and then, of course, Pastels de Belem. This incredibly renowned bakery claims to be the first store in the world to start selling egg tarts. On their website, they proudly list the origins of their historic store as well; allegedly, when the clergy and labourers were kicked out in the aftermath of the 1820 liberal revolution, people from the monastery suggested they start selling egg-custard tarts to earn a living. The store was set up in 1837, and they have been delighting people with their egg tarts — or, as they refer to it, their ‘Pastéis de Belém’ — ever since.

The cost is extremely friendly as well: only €1.10 per egg-tart (in 2018, when I visited), and cheaper if you buy it in packs of six or twelve. They are honestly a sight (and taste!) to behold; if you ever visit Lisboa, I highly recommend trying this store out.

Image Credit: Phoebe Hyun