Lisboa is a city where eating is most definitely a pleasure. Slow meals, intense, full of flavors and conversation. Meals with good company, and full of pleasure. And Lisboa’s sweets carry in them multiple secrets, many of which were locked up for centuries in the silence of the convents.
The convent-based sweets are of fundamental importance in Lisboa’s diet, as there were, in the middle of the last century, three dozen convents for women only in Lisboa.
The ex-libris are the Pastéis de Belém
To go to Lisboa and not eat Pastéis de Belém is a crime. There’s nothing that can be done, there’s no way to avoid it. The problem is eating just one, because they’re so good … you just want to keep eating them.
Pastéis de Belém are a famous version of cream cakes, in which the base is filo dough and the filling is milk, cream, vanilla and … no one knows. It’s really like that: the recipe of Pastéis de Belém is the best-guarded secret of Portuguese confectionary. No one knows it exactly except those inside the Factory, a café in Belém, near the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, which has become a site of daily pilgrimage.
The Pastéis de Belém have become a true icon of tourism: each day more than 10,000 pastéis are sold, accompanied with sugar and cinnamon, packed into packets along with the boxes of pastéis.
Inside number 84 of the Rua de Belém, in a factory founded in 1837, you can see azulejo panels from the XVIIIth century, almost as famous as the sweet pastries sold there.