Portuguese lanche (pronounced: lun’-sh) is my favorite meal of the day. Although the word lanche comes from the English lunch, it is actually a completely different meal. Lanche is served in late afternoon as a sort of stop-gap until dinner. It’s a typical meal in Portugal, most similar to the English afternoon tea… which also happens to have Portuguese origins, by the way. So what exactly is lanche and why will it change your life?
The actual contents of a Portuguese lanche varies between families, locations and occasions. They can be light or extravagant. Typical lanche food often includes sandwiches, fritos (fried pastries filled with meats and fish, such as meat croquettes), cheeses, cured meats, bread, fruit, cakes and cookies. So yes, it can be a real feast! I usually start off with chouriço or presunto sandwiches (that’s right: more than one sandwich) and delicious cheeses (Serra, S. Jorge, and requeijão – to name only a few). Of course, it wouldn’t be my favorite meal without a little something sweet at the end. Cake, broas or cookies are the most common sweet treats. To drink, you have juices, tea or coffee or even a little wine, depending on how much you’re eating. Needless to say, I am such a lanche enthusiast that often fill up on a heavy lanche and have a light dinner.
So why start having lanches, if you don’t already enjoy them? Yummy food aside, I love lanche because it brings friends and family together in a relaxed, fun environment. Less formal and less structured than a regular meal, it feels different somehow. Lanche knows no age: kids and adults love lanche! Meeting your friend(s) for a “lanchinho” at a café to catch up or hosting a lanche at home is all part of being Portuguese. It starts from when you’re a child and you get home from school and enjoy lanche before doing your homework. The institution of lanche is representative of how Portuguese culture is so heavily focused on food. And I’ve never heard anybody complain about that!
What are your favorite lanche foods? Comment below. I’m going to eat now!