She could have a 9 to 6 job, but instead Filipa Valente prefers to wander through the narrow streets of Lisbon neighborhoods searching for gastronomical traditions and lifestyle. The foodie travellers, who join her, are delighted with the true Portuguese food culture.
Who is Filipa?
I am a curious person with a avid and insatiable appetite who loves to sniff out new ways and discover new worlds and perspectives of my surroundings. When I cannot find anything new around me, I move. But I always come back to those places I love the most, whether they are people, places or food. I always come back searching for the renewed Lisbon, the ripple of the river influenced by the sea and the moments shared with people I haven’t met yet or longtime friends.
What made you quit a permanent job and invest in Taste of Lisboa?
Stability is where we can find balance. I do not feel that it was a switch but an evolution. There are times when we feel that to continue to grow and fulfill ourselves we must leave the dormant sense of security. It was as if I had decided to remove the training wheels from my bicycle.
How did you come up with the idea of the food tours in Lisbon?
The idea came from an American friend who insisted that Lisbon was the right city and I was the best person to launch a food tours business. In his words, I get more excited than visitors just by showing the city to them and that I was always aware of a new restaurant or that alternate nook to gather together and enjoy a glass of wine, share a petisco (portuguese snacks) during a good chat. He insisted so much that I ended up taking him seriously. So seriously that I began enjoy even more touring in Lisbon and meeting new people. Thus was born the Taste of Lisboa Food Tours.
Why Mouraria and Campo de Ourique neighborhoods?
Both Mouraria and Campo de Ourique are neighborhoods that reflect the spontaneous daily life of Lisboners. People around there are mostly locals and all the trade is made for residents, which keeps these neighborhoods very genuine. They are not made for the tourist. This is the charm of these neighborhoods for the curious traveler who likes to feel the real thrill of the city and its people, and values mingling with local reality and lifestyle. As for the cuisine, each of the neighborhoods also transmits its own very real food experience: Mouraria with restaurants and local shops with the same family owners for many years, offering a traditional cuisine based on what exists each day in the market; Campo de Ourique with more trendy food concepts and restaurants, practicing a cool but professional experimental cuisine.
What do you want to share in the tours and the other experiences of Taste of Lisboa Food Tours?
I want to show the real Lisbon of lisboners and our daily food, which in reality is a cultural manifestation of who we are.
What is the dish that tourists always want to taste?
Codfish? I do not know. The participants in food tours and cooking lessons from Taste of Lisboa are travelers and explorers rather than tourists. They want us to show them what they do not know yet. They appreciate especially the stories behind the dishes, the origins of our customs and gastronomical traditions. I think that is what feed their souls, because as foodies they have prone taste buds and stomachs. Our cuisine surprises and delights them.
And what dish is always a surprise and tourists end up worshiping?
It varies greatly. In general, their knowledge about Portuguese food is low when they join one of our experiences. They want to try everything. So surprises tend to be constant.
In these walks through Lisbon did you learn to enjoy some particular dish?
I learned to like chocolate with salt. Really salty! It was a culinary experience exchange with a Swedish couple guests. It’s what gives me the most pleasure in this activity: this interaction with different people who also want to share their best gastronomic seasonal customs and traditions. I’m traveling all the time without leaving home. Regarding to Portuguese dishes, I lost my prejudice against arroz de cabidela (chicken blood rice) and after several decades I tried it again. I love it! Just thinking of it’s mouth watering.
What has changed in your life with this project?
Everything is changing. The boundaries between spheres of life, the intensity of the rhythms, new horizons, new interests and tastes, many people to discover and new friendships ... I’m in full inner transformation.
What is your favorite place in Lisbon and why?
I think places are made by people. So I have many favorite places in Lisbon, depending on the occasion and the company. Lisbon never runs out and it never bores me.