Vouzela pastries

No visit to Vouzela is complete without tasting the famous local pastries. The recipe, created by nuns of the order of Santa Clara, involves an impossibly thin Philo-like dough that wraps a luscious filling made of sugar and egg yolks. In the 19th century, an orphan adopted by the nuns mastered the tricky recipe and started selling “pasteis de Vouzela” to make a living. Today, four families produce these pastries.

We stopped at Café Central, which, as the name promises, has a central location. It is close to the village pillory and has a view of the cobalt blue tiles that cover the façade of the Misericordia church. The café was inaugurated in 1929, just in time to bring some sweetness to the lives affected by the Great Depression.

Tengúgal and Vouzela are rivals, each town claiming to produce the finest version of the same convent recipe. We ordered a couple of pastries and asked whether we could photograph a tray full of pastries. Before agreeing, the waiter asked, “Have you tried Tentúgal’s pastries?” “Yes, but we find their dough slightly thicker,” we answered. “I’m glad you noticed,” replied the waiter with evident satisfaction, bringing a tray for us to photograph.

We sat at a table, enjoying our “pasteis.” Created by nuns who lived in prayer and solitude, every bite is a glimpse of heaven.