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Foodie’s Guide to Regional Gastronomy: Linguiça and Chouriço


What’s not to like about the smoked, cured, seasoned pork sausage packages of happiness? Not only delicious to young and old, man and woman, capitalist and communist they take very little time to prepare. They can be served on a plate or slapped in a pop and made into a street food. They are inexpensive, require no special cooking skills to heat up, and can be paired with just about anything, e.g. rice, potatoes, salad, coleslaw, beans, etc.

Being cured was a technique that preserved food for longer periods of time – crucial for long naval trips that the Portuguese are famous for throughout history. Having a hold full of linguiça to survive a fishing trip or even one across the Atlantic doesn’t sound bad at all and certainly made things a bit easier to..ahem, swallow. In a culture where the economy or environment dictated that every part of the animal be used, this is an ingenious way to make the worst or less popular cuts of meat like organs, more palatable. Particularly clever is it packages the meat in a casing made from something that wouldn’t have much of a use and be tossed away as useless: the intestines.

In a culture where the economy or environment dictated that every part of the animal be used, this is an ingenious way to make the worst or less popular cuts of meat like organs, more palatable. Particularly clever is it packages the meat in a casing made from something that wouldn’t have much of a use and be tossed away as useless: the intestines.

What’s your favorite way to prepare linguiça or chouriço? (Dennis Wilkinson)

Anywhere that the Portuguese navigated to for trade or colonization, adopted this popular sausage. Azoreans and Madeirans will tell you that theirs is prepared differently than that on the mainland. Brazil has traditional Portuguese linguiça but because Italians immigrated to Brazil in its youth it has two Italian influenced versions: linguiça Toscana and linguiça calabresa which utilized Italian calabresa peppers. The Portuguese colonized Goa, a city in Western India and there you will find that the Goans took traditional chouriço and added ginger, red chilies, more vinegar, and in some cases turmeric or even yellow curry powder. In Okinawa they mince it and make it into a stuffing or a coating like panko.

Even within the United States and parts of Canada you will find enclaves of Portuguese communities different than what we have in greater New Bedford, albeit only slightly, and often the difference is in ratios of ingredients not flavor profiles. There are Portuguese communities in Seattle, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California. Most notably, the Hawaiian version is a bit larger, may contain beef and they serve it in a hot dog bun with the typical hot dog condiments. Sounds kind of blasphemous, if you ask me.

As with all great foods, there is debate attached to linguiça and chouriço. Which one of these two is better? Is there a difference? What is it? Does Gaspar’s or Amaral’s make the best? Many would counter that with a “My avó make the best, that’s who.” But both those companies make a fantastic sausage – more than people would admit, when avó was about. It would take a brave soul to stand up in a crowd at a Portuguese family gathering and declare “Amaral’s makes better linguiça than my avó.” Brave and stupid.

Not only do those two companies and everyone’s avó probably make insanely delicious enchidos, but the many Salchicharia’s in the area do as well. Not having an avó myself, and preferring to support the local, little guy, I get mine from New Bedford Salchicharia. The Umbelina family makes fresh, microbatches of make you cry good linguiça and chouriço, often making seasonal -like a chicken linguiça with dried cranberries around the holidays. Regardless, I would accept linguiça or chouriço from the supermarket or someone’s grandmother or aunt. I have never had bad linguiça or chouriço.

The crazy Hawaiians treat linguiça like it’s a hot dog.

So what is the difference between these two enchidos? Well, it’s tough to get a clear, defined answer. Some say, just the color: chouriço has a brighter red color from more paprika. Others say chouriço has more garlic, pepper and is the spicier of the two. I’ve heard linguiça has a dash of anise and chouriço has none. Chouriço is supposedly chunkier and more coarse and linguiça is fattier. Bring up a quality that is supposed to be singular to one and I’ll point out someone who says the opposite is true. There is even a group that states that the difference is exactly “zero.” I doubt this debate will ever be defined to the point that arguing will cease.

What we have here is a case of a myriad of manufacturers with different recipes. These recipes were likely handed down through the generations and you damn well better be loyal to your family’s linguiça. That meant you grew up with linguiça a certain way and felt that it was the way it was made. The same thing goes on in Italian households. Everyone’s nonna supposedly makes the best red sauce and it supposed to have “x” many ingredients in an exact ratio or keep it away from me.

What we will have to debate is who makes better linguiça or chouriço between New Bedford and Fall River. We should have a friendly linguiça face-off to determine who has the best. A sort of Superbowl type event where the trophy goes to the city with the best based on a taste test or vote at a festival. We have Chowderfests where people make traditional and creative versions – why not have something based on a food we all love? Mayors and City Councilors could use it as a platform “We will send those wannabes in Fall River packing by proving what we already know: New Bedford makes the best linguiça and chouriço.”

I kid, of course.

We already know that New Bedford makes the best.


Got an idea for the next article? Is there a food you grew up on, but never knew the history behind it? Want to share a recipe? Want to brain the author with a frying pan? Send us your messages!

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About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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  1. My favorite has always been Gaspar’s Linguica. However, now I live in Fall River and know the real diference between Linguica and Chirouco: Fall River favors Chirouco and New Bedford favors Linguica 🙂

    I find linguica to be sweeter and chirouco to be a bit spicier (depending on the brand) and not as sweet.

  2. Our favorite is Gaspar’s. Fortunately we are able to get it locally here in Florida. Our neighborhood Publix Supermarket carries it.

  3. If you think gaspars is good then wait until you have the good stuff ! Lo
    Best chourico to put in food is the Azorean meat market in Bristol,RI
    Best chourico to grill would be JC’s market in west warwick,Ri
    Best chourico that’s commercialized , it would be Michaels from Fall River
    Everyone who knows chourico would agree !

  4. The woman at the salchicharia told me that the difference is just the gauge of the sausage. Linguica being the thinner gauge and chourico being the thicker. But like you said… Everyone has a different answer.

  5. I had never had Linguica before I married my first husband he was from Dartmouth and after we married we came to live in the area and I got hooked on it. We left the area in 1976 and moved to my home town Houston TX and the craving for that sausage was bad so we would have it shipped to us but as the weather here is so hot we would not ship as often as we would have liked so had to stretch what we could get. I have in the 20 years since his death ordered just for myself and enjoy it as much today as I did the first time I tried it in 1967.

  6. Speaking for Azorean type Chourico vs. Linguica, there are several differences. Namely linguica uses ground pork, for the other it is pork butts chopped into small pieces(less fat) it also is spicier because it takes more paprika and red crushed pepper, other spices to makers particular tastes. Both Gaspar’s and Amaral’s are less than stellar for those of us who love the real thing, try the Azores Market’s (Fall River) home made for most authentic and best in region. You’ll never eat the others again and they ship anywhere in the country.

    • I was born in Faial and have been in the states since 1967 and have had linguica that is ground pork. Always chunks of pork. I’ve eaten in many restaurants throughout the islands and when I’ve ordered ljnguica especially with inhames, never have i had ground pork.

  7. Gaspars for me! I grew up with it as a young boy in North Plymouth. I love chourico for it’s spicer taste as opposed to linguica.

  8. Good reading,no surprise though,everything Joe Sylvia writes is interesting.

  9. I use both in my kale soup and it’s always Gaspar’s. Ingre up in New Bedford of Azorean descenr and I grew up with both. Fortunately, i can get it here in Florida.

  10. I grew up in New Bedford and moved to California as a teenager. While they carry linguica in most markets here I didn’t like any of it.Years later I found out I could call Gaspars and they would ship it to me, so once a year I get my years supply in time to use it in my stuffing at Thanksgiving. Have to admit I use both the linguica and chourico, each has a little different flavor. Love the article by the way. Also took me years to replicate my Mom’s American Chop Suey, people here didn’t know what that was !

  11. Philip Paiva-Arena

    Great job to the writer of this food column, for once I actually sat here and enjoyed reading a food article that I was not bored by the second sentence. Obviously being from New Bedford and Portuguese I was brought up eating a lot of items that people look at me like seriously, but my advice is everyone has a specific taste of what they like , just give it a chance and you might be surprised on what you will discover that you like.

  12. Awesome article I’m from fall river and favor reis chourico sliced and sauted with peppers and onions with a little tomatoes sauce I lived in vermont for awhile and when i first arrived I ordered a pizza from dominos and asked for chourico and onion pizza they had no idea I was talking about then they don’t carry coffee milk either

  13. Hey Joe, silly question….the picture of linguicia/chourico in your article says (Dennis Wilkinson). Dennis is my brother and I’m wondering what his connection is to the article. Otherwise, raised in NB, I’m a linguica fan. I now live in the East Bay Area of RI where chourico is more popular (and some people have never heard of linguica). I always felt chourico is the spicier of the two though.

  14. The best that I have eaten, I am from NB and now live in california.

  15. Loved the them both Miss them

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