That this delight is one of the main protagonists of Portuguese pastry, many know. What perhaps not everyone knows is the Portuguese Custard Tarts History, the genius behind the recipe and how it became part of the Portuguese cultural identity. As the portuguese custard tarts name, that we portuguese call pastel de nata.
Although not very clear, it is known that the pastel de nata has a monastic origin, linked to the Jerónimos monastery. It is believed that, in a time of need, particularly difficult due to the liberal revolution, the monks of the famous monastery would have resorted to this delicacy to try to make money and survive. Thus, at that time of urgency, they will have started marketing in an establishment, right there in Belém, near the Jerónimos monastery.
It was precisely the location of that selling point that came to give it its designation, which today has become more common. Pastel de Belém. Its popularization and diffusion was driven not only by the flow of tourists who, attracted by the Belém tower and by the Jerónimos monastery itself, ended up trying it and becoming ambassadors, but also by the movement of boats that, in the that time, connected that town to Lisbon.
Portuguese Custard Tarts history results from the adaptation and reproduction of pastel de Belém
What we know as pastel de nata is nothing more than the result of the attempt to reproduce the pastel de Belém. This one, whose secret is kept under lock and key, we can only find in that same place, in Belém. That doens’t mean that we cannot be delighted with the alternatives that populate cafes and supermarkets, in Portugal, and all over the world. In addition, nowadays we can find many versions of pasteis de nata, the result of the creative spirit of those who like pasteis de nata, some better achieved than others. Ultimately, the portuguese custard tarts history resembles to an empire built on the power of senses.