As long ago as the late 19th century, the Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz referred to Lisbon as the city of pastries. He himself was particularly partial to ovos moles – thin waffles filled with a sweet egg custard. Cakes and pastries are still very much part of city life in Lisbon today: They are served for desert, with super-sweet espresso in the afternoon or on the beach, where you can buy cream-filled donuts called bolas de berlim. Life is hard enough as is.
The absolute stars of the pastry parade are pastéis de nata, little puff pastry tarts filled with vanilla cream. Tourists form long lines outside the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, the pastry shop where the originals are made. Lisbon’s residents buy their pastries downtown in places like the venerable Pastelaria Versailles, which opened in 1922 and still features an Art-Nouveau interior decorated with mirrors and chandeliers, as well as waiters sporting bow ties. Piles of pastries and sweets are temptingly displayed in meter-long showcases: bolo-rei, a Christmas cake containing candied fruits, individual puddings, toucinho do céu, an almond cake whose name translates as “bacon from heaven,” choux-pastry éclairs, little cakes covered with marzipan and bolos de arroz, wonderfully fluffy rice flour muffins.
Legend has it that these delicious tidbits were created for the first time when nuns, who starched their wimples with egg white, used the leftover yolk to make highly caloric little cakes. Loving sweet pastries is evidently not a sin in this small Catholic country but a veritable gift from God.
Getting there from Germany
In September, Lufthansa flies four times daily from Frankfurt (FRA) and twice daily from Munich (MUC) to Lisbon (LIS). Use the app to calculate your miles: miles-and-more.com