EP word of the week (#73): ovo estrelado

Fried eggs are a typical sight at many traditional Portuguese restaurants and tascas; tasty, nutricious (if you don’t put too much oil in the pan) and easy to cook, they usually go well with [o] bife (steak) of any kind!

But even in the simplest foods do the Portuguese and Brazilian find differences in their language variants, and that’s exactly the case for fried eggs. BP translates it directly, [o] ovo frito (frito being the past participle of fritar, to fry), but EP follows a different route altogether.

Our word for fried egg is [o] ovo estrelado, and its associated verb is estrelar [ovos/um ovo]; both are used only in reference to eggs, which makes it quite special indeed. Estrelado/a is also EP for “starry” (having stars visible or shared like a star, from Portuguese [a] estrela), but I’m not sure there any association between the two terms. There are similar terms in Galician (ovo estrelado) and Catalan (ou estrelat), so it’s safe to say that whatever etymology it has, it’s certain to have an Iberian origin that was completely lost over to BP.

A piece of meat with a fried egg on top is called bife com ovo a cavalo (lit. streak/filet with an egg on horseback) or just bife a cavalo. It’s a funny idiom, don’t you think?

As a final note, [o] ovo estrelado is always and invariably cooked sunny side up; I had never thought of flipping the egg until I saw it on an episode of the US version of Masterchef!

2 thoughts on “EP word of the week (#73): ovo estrelado

  1. Patricia Eckmeier November 24, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    There IS an association: in Spanish, “estrellar-se” means “to crash” or “to break apart”- “El auto se estrelló contra un árbol” – “La botella se cayó de la mesa y se estrelló” – and we also like to eat “huevos estrellados” (the eggs are certainly not whole anymore). But the sky can also be “estrellado” – in this case, I suppose, only an adjective, or someody way back then already knew about the “Big Bang” theory :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • luisdomingos November 24, 2016 / 7:03 pm

      Thanks for the clarification, Patricia! It’s interesting that the Portuguese kept the word without adapting it, but it’s good to know there is an association there :D


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