Pastéis de Belém

Pastéis de Belém or pastéis de nata, as they are also called, are a must-eat when in Portugal, and this is especially true if you are able to make it to their supposed birthplace, the town of Santa María de Belém, outside of Lisbon. The eggy custard tarts are believed to have originated out of an excess of egg yolks at the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, where egg whites were frequently used to starch nun's habits and clarify wine, and the yolks were used for, well, nothing.

Today you can get these very rich treats in pastry shops all over the country, but if you find yourself in Belém it's worth a visit to Casa Pastéis de Belém to get the real deal. It's a cavernous, tiled labrynth of a place, overflowing with all kinds of people enjoying their sweets, and it's a perfect place for a break after a visit to the nearby monastery and Torre de Belém.

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