This week's edition is devoted to the all-mighty king of Portuguese gastronomic tradition: codfish. An obligatory ingredient at every Christmas table in Portugal! The history of codfish is as exciting as its unrivalled flavour.
The origins of the codfish history get lost in time, for the first codfish-processing factories appeared in Norway and in Iceland already in the 9th century! But it was not until the 15th century that the Portuguese began to trade codfish. Dried salted codfish lasted over three months during the long-lasting sea journeys without losing its proteins and nutrients, which was ideal in this historical period! Portuguese were the first ones to fish codfish in the Newfoundland in the 15th century. By that time codfish already represented 10% of the traded fish in Portugal.
Our journey starts in the coastal city of Ílhavo, located 8 km away from Aveiro. This city has a deep maritime tradition and the codfish is actually the landmark of this beautiful coastal city. Every year in August the municipality organises the popular Codfish Festival that attracts many visitors to the city. Apart from gastronomy, this festival also presents outstanding concerts and exhibits!
Ílhavo Maritime Museum is a true icon of architecture, designed by prestigious Portuguese architects Nuno Mateus and Pedro Mateus that was also nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2003. This amazing museum is one of the most visited museums in the region of Centro de Portugal. Ílhavo Maritime Museum tells the story of high sea fishing in the Newfoundland and in Greenland, as well as in the “ria” of Aveiro. The Sea Room presents an interesting collection of nautical instruments and miniatures of ancient boats. You must pay a special attention to the codfish fishing collection, which is truly breathtaking!
The Library/ Archive of Ílhavo Maritime Museum has the greatest collection of books on codfish fishing. All the books were donated by local inhabitants and the visitor can use all the available material for free. It is a place of memory and also a hymn to the Portuguese maritime tradition!
The Museum Ship Santo André belongs to the Ílhavo Maritime Museum. This fishing trawler is part of the Portuguese codfish fishing fleet and it was built in 1948 in Holland. This 71,40 m long fishing trawler was totally renewed and converted in a museum thanks to the commitment of the ship owner and the municipality of Ílhavo. It is nowadays a landmark of the city!
A codfish aquarium Ílhavo Maritime Museum has opened an absolutely unique venue in Portugal: a codfish aquarium! It is the first in the country and the ideal place to observe this interesting species with a closer look. The Codfish Aquarium is a must-see spot of the city of Ílhavo, which so intensely promotes the preservation of sea traditions.
The story of codfish can easily relate to the Portuguese identity: it’s a story about overcoming harsh seas and longing for safe land, bringing back home the almighty king of all tables, the “bacalhau” by all means! Bom apetite!