While learning about the wines and enjoying myself, I told several of the Portuguese that I had hopes to travel to Portugal within in the next year or two, largely to wine and dine, and that it has long been high on my list of places to finally visit.
Then I remembered the next day that I had actually been to Portugal and had had a Portuguese meal there, sort of. Some years ago, on a trip with the Gruppo Ristoranti Italiani (now Gruppo Italiani) to Italy, I was booked along with an editor of Serious Eats on circuitous return trip home via Lisbon. Both of us were schlepping oversized cartons of pasta courtesy of the fine folks at La Molisana, a pasta maker we had visited earlier in the week. So, I’ve been to the Lisbon Airport, though that really doesn’t count for a country visit in my book. Maybe the meal, more so. She had on-going assignment, as she traveled internationally quite frequently: a brief article on a signature McDonald’s sandwich in countries around the globe. In the Lisbon Airport, it was the McLusitano. I joined in. It was cheap and I didn’t feel like spending money at that point.
Even given moniker, a reference to the Roman name of Portugal, I was unsure of how representative it was of Portuguese cuisine. And, if I am going to be honest with myself, the not-so-unfamiliar McLusitano really was not quite as good as any the meals that we had had in Italy the past week, on a trip led by one of America’s top Italian restaurateurs. Nor, what was served the other day.