For many of us the food we eat while visiting a country has a very strong influence on how we remember our holiday. Even years later a small trigger can have us recollect a sensational or disastrous meal from our trip. While any holiday in Brazil is guaranteed to be filled with memorable moments, with the great variety of food on offer in Brazil your dining experiences are very likely to be part of those memories.
So what can you expect in the restaurants and snack bars of Brazil? Here’s a very quick summary of the food you might encounter on your Brazilian trip.
Perhaps the most common introduction to Brazilian food, the concept of the churrascaria has been exported around the world and several can even be found in London. These are very much aimed at the carnivore with BBQ meats of many varieties on offer, usually for an all-inclusive price. Typically you are handed a disc which is red on one side and green on the other. As the waiters come round with freshly cooked skewers of meat they check the colour of your disc. If the disc is green side up you will receive another portion of meat. When you need a break or can take no more, simply turn it over to red. Over-indulgence is almost guaranteed.
Brazilian food will commonly come with one or a combination of three staple items: rice (arroz), black beans (feijao) and cassava meal (farinha). You’ll do well to find a meal that doesn’t include at least one of this trio.
The national dish of Brazil is the feijoada, a wholesome meat and black bean stew served with rice. Other well-known dishes tend to regional in nature, reflecting the diversity of the culture and ethnic roots of the Brazilian population.
Carruru is a spicy prawn dish made with okra (ladies’ fingers), onions and peppers. Its roots are distinctly African and you’ll most likely find carruru served in Salvador de Bahia in the north east of Brazil. It is typically eaten with acaraje, a mashed ball of black-eyed peas.
Barreado, from the south of the country around Sao Paolo, is a slow-cooked meat stew that is prepared in a clay pot for 24 hours. The pot is typically sealed using a banana leaf.
Moqueca is a fish based stew originating from the north east of Brazil, although many regional variations exist. It will normally be cooked in oil without any liquid, with only tomato, spices, coriander and peppers added.
Fried bananas are a popular dish from the inland area of Minas Gerais, where the local cheeses also enjoy a good reputation around the country.
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by Andy Jarosz