You’ve probably never been told, but there are three ways of eating a Pastel de Nata. #SayWhat
To those of you that are (somehow) not aware of what a Pastel de Nata is, or what do I mean by ‘ways’ of eating it, let me explain.
The Pastel de Nata (or Portuguese custard tart) was born in Lisbon. The recipe was created before the 18th century by Catholic monks and in 1834 the recipe was sold to a sugar refinery. In 1837, the refinery owners opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in Belém (Lisbon), which is the birthplace of the Pastel de Nata we know today.
This pastry shop is one of the must-go places when touring around Lisbon. They have a well-kept secret of the original recipe, which is known by only three or four of the family members that still own and run the place. They’re so secretive about it, there’s even a secret room in the building, where the pastries are made.
It’s always very busy, with fairly long queues outside, but do not panic – they have plenty of space in the back and it is well worth the wait. You can also not queue, go straight to the counter, and order a box to eat in the gardens or next to the river Tagus. #NomNomNom
Where to find them in London
Nowadays, the world is selling Pastéis de Nata and although none taste like the original, some can almost reproduce its taste. In London, there’s a fairly unknown place called I Love Nata close to Seven Dials, and I can tell you, it’s a really good place to try it. But there are more places and this post I found on Not So Basic London has great suggestions.
But what is it made of?
A Pastel de Nata is a sweet egg tart pastry. Usually, it is served with ground cinnamon and in some places with icing sugar as well. You put the desired amounts on top of your pastel according to your own personal taste. Some will eat it with both, some with just one and some with none of the toppings.
The ‘Official Protocol’
As a ‘certified’ Portuguese ‘native’ (‘says’ my only passport), let me explain how you ‘should’ eat a Pastel de Nata.
As far as I’m aware, you have three options:
- Option 1: The Connoisseur – Eat the cream with a (coffee) spoon. When finished eat the pastry.
- This option allows you to separate the flavours and savour them with detail. It’s my favourite way to eat it.
- Option 2: Majority of everyone else – Eat it as a whole, bite by bite.
- This allows you to taste everything as a whole and enjoy the mixture of both textures. It’s still good, but I prefer to enjoy the flavours separately.
- Option 3: The silly ones (As for example, my husband) – Eat it in one go.
- This allows you to regret your decision straight away, either because you will burn your mouth when the Nata is hot, or you’ll struggle to chew it as it takes all the space in your mouth. I don’t recommend it.
Depending on the way you eat it, you get a different experience and the flavours differ. But each person has their preferred way to do it. And once you choose your way, that’s how you’ll eat your Pastéis de Nata until the end of times.
For those who need a visual understanding of these procedures, please watch the video ‘tutorial’ below.
Challenge: How else, could a Pastel de Nata be eaten? Post your suggestions in the comments below!
P.S. – Want to know where we ate this Pastel de Nata and tasted other delicious Portuguese food? Read my review of Bar Douro right here on the blog and pay them a visit.
Disclaimer #1: These are not paid posts. I genuinely love all the places I mentioned.
Disclaimer #2: There is a ‘pinch’ of silliness intended in this post. Although all of these facts are true, Portuguese people don’t (usually) take this subject this seriously. #OrDoThey #MuahAhAh