Alheira or farinheira, two Portuguese sauseges.

Alheira and farinheira are two different sauseges you can only find in Portugal.

During the tours I guide, we often talk about Portuguese cuisine and what to eat that is really unique in the country.

Naturally, among other delicacies, we talk about alheiras and farinheiras. We talk about their origins, differences, and ways to eat them.

I have been researching the origins and the production methods of these two sausages but, so far. I have not come to any stable conclusion, so don’t be surprised if I will soon review and modify this article.

For those who do not know these delights, I ask you to see the photo where I show them and, for now, and below I will tell you what they contain and what are the differences between them.

Through the research I carried out, many sources mentioned that both the alheiras and the farinheiras were invented by the Jews, in Portugal, in the 15th and 16th centuries, during the persecution they then suffered.

At that time, people used to hang sausages in many places, such as in the kitchen or other areas so that they could dry or smoke.

Traditionally, sausages were made out of pork.

However, it turns out that the Jews could not eat pork.

So, one way of not attracting prying eyes or eluding them was to show that they ate sausages, meaning they were no Jewesse. 

But didn’t these sausages have pork? To solve the problem, they invented sausages that were not made with pork but with chicken, turkey, pheasant, rabbit, or even beef.

That is how the alheiras and farinheiras were born and reached our days.

But ATTENTION, if you do not eat pork do not eat alheiras or farinheiras without first reading the rest of the article.

As I mentioned, I have not yet been able to obtain any reliable information about the origin of these sausages and I cannot say what evolution they have had over time.

But, I can say one thing: the vast majority of alheiras and/or farinheiras on the market today, have pork or pork products such as pork fat.

Please check the labels of three alheiras packages. I selected very common alheiras and there you will be able to find the word “porco” or “saíno” (porco is pig in Portuguese) in its ingredients.

I have already seen tour guides referring to groups that alheiras do not have pork and, however, unless they see their composition, this statement is very likely to be wrong.

The alheira, is produced by filling pork tripe with chunks of bread and various meats as mentioned above but it can also have pork meat and fat. Nowadays we find a wide variety of alheiras such as the cod alheiras I really like.

Farinheira has no pork meat but has pork fat that, mixed with raw flour, paprika, and wine.

I can imagine these sausages had no pork, or any of the other pork derivatives, at the time of persecution of the Jews.

It is very common to find alheiras baked in the oven or fried, served as a starter or main course accompanied with rice or chips and a fried egg.

Here I present a photograph of an alheira roasted in the oven.

Farinheira can be found in the famous Portuguese stew, feijoadas (been stew), or as a snack done with scrambled eggs.

Here you can see how to make farinheira with scrambled eggs.

Naturally, different and innovative versions of these products appear every time, and I am not surprised that this text will become obsolete over time.

I hope to have contributed to the differentiation of these two sausages.

Enjoy your food.

David Monteiro

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