Some British guidebooks tell their readers that eating salted cod is a strange Portuguese custom that they should avoid. There’s an historical reason for this point of view. When Henry V married Catherine de Valois in 1420, England was in the midst of the One Hundred Years’ War. Perhaps for this reason, the royal couple had a frugal wedding feast. The 600 guests ate boiled salted cod served on slices of stale bread. The meal was so bad that the British have avoided salted cod ever since.
Portuguese restaurants offer many codfish preparations. If you’re a salted cod neophyte, we suggest that you start with something simple: codfish carpaccio. The codfish is sliced razor thin and combined with an infusion of garlic and olive oil.
You can taste a great version of this preparation at Mãe d’Água, a wonderful restaurant in Bombarral near Lisbon. Imagine how different British cuisine would be if Mãe d’Água had catered Henry V’s wedding.