Giles Coren, the controversial food critic for British newspaper The Times, says Portuguese cuisine is “the worst on earth”. The statement came in a review of ‘A Taberna do Mercado’, a Portuguese restaurant in London run by Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes.
“Portuguese cooking is the worst on earth. Or, at least, the worst of any warm nation on earth,” the critic starts off by writing.
“Obviously, Irish cooking could give it a run. Or Polish. But in its leaden, oversalted blandness, the cuisine of Portugal is, at best, what English cooking would be if we had better weather,” Coren writes.
The food writer goes on to say that “the food in Portuguese hotels is never Portuguese”.
“People are on holiday. It just wouldn’t be fair,” he writes.
His review has not been well-received in Portugal, with two Chefs having already criticised it.
“I don’t agree. I can’t understand it. If there is one thing we (the Portuguese) should be proud of is our sea and the food we make,” said Miguel Rocha Vieira, a famous Portuguese chef and one of the judges of MasterChef Portugal.
“Giles Coren, I invite you to have lunch with me one of these days so that you get to know one of the big motives that make us proud to be Portuguese,” the Chef wrote on his Facebook page.
Rui Paula, his fellow judge on the TV show, was not so kind in his choice of words.
“(Coren’s review) is a true insult to our gastronomic culture. How can someone make such general remarks about something when they know so little about it,” Paula also wrote on his Facebook.
Although Coren was named Food and Drink Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2005, Rui Paula says “that doesn’t give him the right to unashamedly blow fire at everyone as he wishes”.
He added that he hopes someone with authority “will clear the good name of Portugal’s culture” and put Coren “in his rightful place – that of a mere citizen, who has given his opinion, which is worth what it is, compared to Portugal’s history”.
Coren reacted shortly after on his Twitter page, following the huge outpouring of negative comments he received from Portuguese people.
“Judging by all the Portuguese people with one follower calling me a c**t this week, I think I have singlehandedly got a country onto Twitter,” the critic wrote, unaffected by the uproar he has caused.
A day earlier, he had already posted a photo of himself with a black eye and a caption reading “just bumped into one of my Portuguese fans”.
Giles Coren is known for his over-the-top writing style, having already been involved in a number of controversies including racial slurs towards Polish people, the publication of a profanity-filled email to one of his subeditors and contentious posts on his Twitter page.
Readers are reminded that the Mediterranean Diet was considered World Intangible Heritage by UNESCO in 2013. The bid was supported by Tavira council. At the time, it was reported that the decision among the jury was “consensual and quick” as they “all loved the food”.