PORTUGAL is a special place, a small country, only 150 x 350 miles. Portugal defends its corner of the Iberian Peninsula against the large influence of Spain. Inhabited by an Iberian people 5,000 years ago, the area was later visited by Phoenicians, Celts, and Greeks before falling to the Romans around the first century B.C. The Romans were followed by Visigoths and in 711 A.D. by Moors, who greatly influenced Portuguese in art and architecture. Spain absorbed Portugal in 1094 and Portugal declared it’s independence in 1143. One hundred years later, the last of the Moors were expelled. During Portugal’s golden age, its navigators explored the globe and founded colonies in South America, Africa and the Far East. This lasted from 1385 to the late 1500’s. Portugal is blessed with a flavorful and complex cuisine that brings together influences from Europe, Africa, and the Muslim world. The simple-to-prepare dishes rely on pork and seafood of all kinds, as well as, tomatoes, olives, kale, hot and sweet peppers, garlic, fresh herbs, and the silken magic of virgin olive oil.