Believed to have been created some time prior to the eighteenth century by the Catholic monks at the Jeronimos Monastery, convents and monasteries around Portugal produced the egg tart pastry and many other confectionaries from the yolk leftovers used in the starching of clothes and clearing of wines. However with the expulsion of the religious orders and the closing of convents and monasteries in the aftermath of the 1820 Liberal Revolution, a bakery in the Santa Maria de Belem parish, just around the corner from the very same monastery believed responsible for its creation, was contracted by the former clerics to produce the patented egg tarts and continue their to production, and is the reason they are known as Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon.
Since 1837 locals and visitors alike have visited the bakery to purchase the tarts sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar fresh out of the oven. And we can personally attest to their popularity guaranteeing long lines at both the take-away counters, not to mention the wait if you instead wanted sit-down service. This iconic tart however has gone on to spawn numerous imitations, and was chosen in 2006 to represent Portugal in the European Union Café Europe initiative for Europe Day, and was even ranked by the Guardian as the 15th tastiest delicacy in the world. And it’s hard not to argue with that assertion, hot out of the ovens there’s really nothing like them. Can’t wait until we’re in Lisbon again! So much great food.