The Cuisine of Brazil
Feijoada is a slow-cooked stew of black beans, salty, fatty pork or beef, fresh and smoked sausages, garlic, bacon, and onions. Allowed to cook in a clay pot for hours, feijoada is served with white rice, collard greens, refogada, or fried garlic, deep-friend bananas and cassavas, and pork rinds. For those who like it hot, a hot pepper sauce is served on the side, and for those who like it cold, the meal pairs perfectly with Brazil’s favorite distilled liquor, cachaca, or beer.
Brazilian feijoada is more than a treat that keeps your mouth watering as you wait for it to simmer to perfection; it is a perfect symbol of Brazil’s cuisine. It is created with care; it reflects not just the tastes of the country, but the culture of its people. It is, like Brazil itself, a melting pot of colors, tastes, religions, and ethnicities that come together into a rich, fragrant whole. The best way to experience Brazil is to dig into its delicious cuisine.
Brazilian food integrates indigenous elements, as well as influences from Europe and Africa. Its many immigrant populations – from, primarily, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany – contributed new ingredients and cooking methods to their new home. Ingredients like leafy vegetables, wheat, dairy, and wine found their way into the country’s cuisine, alongside staples like yams, acai, mango, papaya, polenta, hog plum, rice, beans, and root vegetables. You can find foods more typically associated with Asia and Arabian countries than South American ones, but Brazil always gives them its own flavor.
Fortunately for the hungry traveler, Brasilians like to eat! Breakfast typically includes fruits, cakes, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, bread, smoked turkey, honey or jam, cheeses, ham or turkey, juices, sweetened tea, or the national drink, coffee. Elevenses, or brunch, is the morning snack. Once again, fruit is a star, but light sandwiches are also served. Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day. Typical is a dish of rice and beans, with perhaps some meat, polenta, salads, and vegetables. At tea time, more snacking on fruits, cheeses, and the like. Next, it is dinner time. This is a light meal of soup, salads, or whatever one has left over from lunch. Finally, at late supper, you might have some soup, salad, or pasta.
Not everyone eats these “secondary” meals but it can be fun to try a Brasilian diet for a day or two all the same! You can find numerous restaurants, from haute cuisine to comida a quilo. The latter are buffets where you pay for food by weight; also common are set-price buffets. Another fun style to try is “rodízio,” where you pay a set price and servers walk around with food that you can take. You don’t have to spend a lot to sample the best of Brazil.
Whether you seek out traditional dishes or modern fusion cuisine, whether you skip elevenses and save room for lunch, Brazil will reward you with some of the most hearty, delicious foods in the world.