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Brazil - Food and Drink
Brazil has been described as a cultural melting pot. There are dishes to cater for all tastes and the standards are generally very high. Meals served in restaurants are usually large portions. A wide variety of European, African, Middle Eastern, North American, and Asian foods are available in resorts and main cities.
The Amazon provides a wide variety of fruits and plants such as the açai berry, which is served in a cool smoothie. The huge coastline and many rivers provide a wide range of meals for seafood lovers. In the northeast, spicy seafood stews enriched with palm oil are a common delicacy reflecting the shared history between Brazil and Africa.
Brazilian barbecues are made up of generous quantities of meat. The picanha or rump cap, also known as premium cuts, are very popular. Salt is added to the food, before it is grilled to a perfect pink over charcoal or wood. Sharing space on the grill will be chicken hearts, sausages, and queijocoalho (squeaky cheese-on-a-stick). When you visit Brazilian barbecue-style steakhouses, you are likely to find all types of meats on skewers from wild boar to pork and lamb, making it easy for you to slice whatever you want straight onto your plate.
This dish is served in a piping hot clay pot that is uncovered at the table amidst clouds of fragrant steam. This seafood stew from Bahia is much more than your conventional fish stew.
In its simplest form, seafood or fish are stewed in diced onions, tomatoes, and coriander. The Baianos make it explode with flavor by serving it with dendê (palm oil), coconut milk, and peppers. The Capixabas community also lay claim to the origins of the dish, their preparation style is more or less similar to that of the Baianos.
However, the Capixabas add a natural red food coloring known as urucum (annatto seeds) making their stew burst with color. It is served with a spicy fish porridge made from manioc flour together with rice, farofa and fried manioc flour ideal for mopping up juices.
Best known as the fiery kick in caipirin, this drink made from fermented sugarcane juice will blow you away. Commonly referred to as Brazil’s national cocktail, the Cachaça is made with uncolored, fresh cachaças. However, there are many versions of this drink, some even aged in wood barrels like whisky.
Known as the Brazilian chocolate truffle, the brigadeiros are very simple to make and are rolled out for kids’ parties nationwide. Condensed milk is simmered with cocoa powder, and then whisked with butter. The mix is then shaped into balls before rolling it on chocolate sprinkles.
Pão de queijo
This meal is prepared using two of the world's staple favorites: cheese and bread. They are brought together to make a glorious pastry known as the pão de queijo (cheese bread). This crispy snack is enjoyed at any time of day or night. It is made using gluten-free bread made with tapioca flour, egg, and grated cow’s milk cheese from the state of Minas Gerais, to give it a soft and chewy feel on the inside and a crispy exterior. They come in different sizes, from fist to cake-sized pieces.
This is a deep-fried patty of crushed black-eyed peas and pureed onions, deep fried in palm oil before being stuffed with dried shrimp, spiced cashew nuts, bread, and additional ingredients known as vatapá. This is a high-calorie snack popular with many native Brazilians as well as expats who visit the country. The flavors have an African feel since the meal originated from the Bahia North eastern parts of Brazil, which have deep African roots. The Acarajé is best enjoyed when it is piping hot from the vat of oil, with a liberal dash of chili sauce.
A glossy yellow sweet food made from nothing more than butter, eggs, sugar, and coconut. This Bahia meal is baked in cupcake-sized molds. The top is a smooth, firm custard that pleasantly sticks to the roof of the mouth. The lower side of the Quindim is usually dense due to the grated coconut. The name quindim is said to have been derived from the word kintiti, meaning ‘delicacy’ in Congolese. This is another example of the influence of African cuisine on the Brazilian people. The Portuguese preferred to use egg yolks in pastries and sweets, and that is what inspired this recipe.
Due to its superfood status, the açaí is the most popular Amazonian food in Brazil. Initially, it was a popular meal among indigenous tribes meant to boost energy. However, the Acai is now a famous sauce used by Amazonians to complement fish. It was thrust into the spotlight as an energy snack in the 80's by a brilliant marketing strategy that targeted surfers in glamorous Rio de Janeiro. It can found in every juice bar, café, supermarket, and bakery across the country.
This stew made from beans, beef, and pork is a strong contender for the position of national dish in Brazil. The feijoada is eaten all over Brazil. It comprises of a stew of black beans, cuts of pork of varying sizes, sausages, and pigs’ ears and tails. Soaking beans and desalting pork makes this meal a labor of love since it can take up to an entire day to prepare, which is why many people in Brazil prefer to go out and eat it in bars and restaurants. This meal is usually accompanied with orange slices, chopped kale, and white rice. It is washed down with a shot of cachaça to ease digestion.
Important things to know:
• The legal drinking age in Brazil is 18.
• Some restaurants in Rio and other large cities charge customers by the weight of their plates, which is actually very affordable.
• A tip of 10% is common courtesy for almost all services that are not included on the bill.
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