Brazil’s love affair with food is so passionate and natural and open that it consumes you immediately, when suddenly, you find yourself planning lunch at breakfast, dinner at lunch, and eventually, you reason it’s possible to eat your way through the country in 8 weeks. The following photos were taken in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba.
The cuisine in Brazil is very diverse but most can agree on one national dish, feijoada. An all day Feijoada situation is like a religious experience that usually goes down on Saturdays. Take your time to enjoy it. It’s similar to the American brunch buffet or English Sunday roast except pork and bean stew is on the menu. You begin the feijoada experience with a sip of bean soup and fried pork skin. This is to warm the appetite. Then you dig into a 10 part chorus of oranges, farofa, lime, mint, rice, collard greens, sausage, beans, and pork. Absolutely amazing. Washing it down with a caipirinha is recommended. Following the whole thing with an afternoon nap is a must.
Fish in Brazil is often served whole and delicious with a light fry. Eating out at restaurants is not cheap, especially for dinner and drinks. It’s easy to find hostels and hotels with breakfast included in the price so a good time to go out and enjoy Brazilian food is at lunch. Always ask your server if they have a menu of the day or “menu do dia.” Beans were almost always expected and welcomed on my plate.
Farmer’s markets in Brazil are everywhere and packed with local goods. Many booths will give you samples of what they’re serving. This little old banana lady is waiting for you somewhere in Brazil. Go find her! Or grab whatever fruit is on sale at the grocery store. Passion fruits are rare and expensive in Europe, but ubiquitous in Brazil. Appreciate the abundance.
If you ever got in trouble as a child for eating too much cookie dough or for licking the back of the cake spoon a bit too often, then the pure, natural state of brigadeiro – and the way to eat it – will make you melt. They literally serve this stuff in a pot with a giant spoon. The insanely sweet and heavy mixture of condensed milk and cocoa is truly an experience. You should also try an artisan brigadeiro ball. Don’t let it’s perfectly curved white chocolate strawberry petals scare you away from consuming it in one bite.
Pastel are Brazil’s answer to savory pastries, but better. They’re pockets of dough stuffed with stewed pork, chicken, or vegetables. This photo is a perfect example of pork and potato pastels served with spicy mustard, popular in Southeast Brazil. Great to order as a shared appetizer.
Fresh, raw, out the shell coconut is available on nearly every Brazilian beach front. Watch as they chop out a hole at the top and plop a straw in. They cut with speed, skill and a crude knife.
Moqueca de peixe is a fish stew from the Northeastern state of Brazil Bahia. Start by coating the bottom of a large pot with a Brazilian sauce that can essentially be replaced by Tabasco and oil (or whatever red spicy liquid you like). Layer sliced bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, chopped garlic and cilantro. Followed by chunks of firm fish like halibut or swordfish. You can add small shrimp if you like too, we did. Repeat this process for a double layer of goodness. Squeeze lime over the whole thing, add a bit of water and let steam. Finish with coconut milk. This is such a delicious and simple way to make Brazilian fish stew. Or here’s a recipe I found.
The pinhão nut is like a pine nut on steroids. Street vendors and roadside stands sell warm, un-roasted pinhãos in abundance. You will soon master the art of eating such a nut, but at first you might claw at it awkwardly. Bite the base of the nut so that it cracks open and pops forward. Then push the nut out of it’s shell with your finger and thumb. It’s worth the wait.
Brazilian tapioca is nothing like American rice pudding. This loose, flaky white substance binds when heated to create a thick tortilla like wrap. Top it off with stewed pork and cheese and we have ourselves a winner.
What other good food is there to eat in Brazil? What about other regional dishes beyond the Southeast region?