There is a wide variety of Portuguese cheeses, especially made from goat's or sheep's milk, or both together. Usually these are very strongly flavored and fragrant. In the Azores, there is a type of cheese made with cow's milk with a spicy taste (Queijo de São Jorge).
Vegetables that are popular in Portuguese cookery include tomatoes, cabbage, and onions. There are many starchy dishes, such as feijoada, a rich bean stew, and açorda, a thick bread-based casserole generally flavored with garlic and coriander or with seafood.
Eating meat and poultry on a daily basis was historically a privilege of the upper classes. Meat was a staple at a nobleman's table during the Middle Ages. A Portuguese Renaissance chronicler, Garcia de Resende, describes how an entrée at a royal banquet was composed of a whole roasted ox garnished with a circle of chickens.
Portugal is a seafaring nation with a well-developed fishing industry and this is reflected in the amount of fish and seafood eaten. The country has Europe's highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world for this indicator.
Portuguese food is characterized by rich, filling and full-flavored dishes and is closely related to Mediterranean cuisine. The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is also notable, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers) and black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron.