So the other night I was out with my host family and my host mom's brother. Since we were late to the dinner, he went ahead and ordered our dishes. (It's very typical here to only order two or three things from the menu when you have a table of 6 or 7 or more. When you do so, the entrees are served family-style and everyone shares.)
Now, I'm not really a picky person when it comes to food. I love food, all kinds of food. And when it comes to food, I'll try anything once. With that being said, I'm not entirely found of meat. I'll eat it, but I usually prefer fish or vegetables.
However, this night, fish wasn't an option. Apparently, the fishermen don't work on Monday's. So if you're in a restaurant you can typically order fish, but it won't be fresh. Because of this, my "host uncle" chose two dishes he thought would best suit the table: lamb and chicken.
While the lamb entree looked a little more appealing, my host family suggested I start with the chicken. Honestly, it didn't even look like chicken. If they would've told me it was beef, I would've believed them. The chicken was so dark in color. As was the rice that accompanied it.
Whatever, I thought. Bring it on.
With each bite, my host uncle kept asking me if I knew how it was made. I could tell he was itching to tell me. In my mind I was thinking, "Man, he's awfully excited about this dish. This must be his favorite..."
That is, until I heard my host mom get onto him for trying to "ruin my supper."
"Leave her alone! Can't you wait until she's eaten a little more of it, so she can form her own opinion about it before you go and spoil it for her?"
I'm sure you can imagine how I was feeling in this moment.
"So.... what is it that I'm eating?" - I had to ask.
Apparently, it's a dish of many names. One of the most common names being: Arroz de cabidela de frango.
So what's inside? Well, chicken and rice. Oh, and the they're both cooked in the blood of the chicken.
Yup. Apparently back in the day when many Portuguese had little money and even less resources, it was common to make use of what they had at hand.
Why toss the blood of the chicken when you can use it as a sauce?
Nowadays, however, it's considered to be more of a specialty. It was even featured on the Travel Channel on Andrew Zimmerman's show called Bizarre Foods (Season 5 Ep. 2). Along with other entrees such as snail risotto with shrimp and squid ink fat and freshly cooked octopus.
While it really wasn't that bad (with only a hint of the taste of iron), I probably wouldn't order it again. Instead, I'll be saving my palette for the next bizarre food I come across.