Europe, Africa, America: in Brazil, the world has come together to party on a plate. A journey in seven major dishes in a cuisine that is mixed by nature, full of generosity and good humour.
Are you hungry? Good, because Brazilian cuisine is a cuisine of the heart that knows how to satisfy the most insatiable stomachs. So let’s eat!
To every lord, every honour, we start with THE national dish: the feijoada, the undisputed star of family meals and strong Sunday brunches. At the base of the feijoada – as its name suggests – is the feijão (black bean). But the Brazilian cousin of our good old cassoulet has other essential ingredients to accompany it: sliced kale, crispy farofa (fried cassava flour), orange slices, rice and, of course, pork in majesty, even though the « vegetarian feijoada » is starting to appear on the menu of Rio’s restaurants.
However, the main ingredient of feijoada is still time. Because between soaking the beans the day before and slowly simmering them the same day in a delicate bath of laurel, chives, parsley, garlic and onion, it’s not really the kind of dish you improvise at the last minute…
From the north to the south of Brazil, the feijoada has countless local variations and you’re bound to come across it at some point during your stay. A good tip: avoid planning too much physical effort right after your tasting…
The Bobó de camarão
If the feijoada is the flagship of Brazilian gastronomy in general, the bobó de camarão is that of a Bahian cuisine with West African influences more particularly marked.
The first pleasure of this dish is already to pronounce its name, insisting if possible on the central « dji ». The second is to look at it, in its beautiful orange colour which results from the union of red (tomato, pepper), coconut milk, manioc and shrimp (camarão), to which are added a host of seductive condiments (coriander, lemon, peppers…).
Don’t call it « soup », it’s sacrilege! It is a dish in itself, which finds in white rice an ideal companion.
We have chosen the coxinha to tell you about the daily pleasure of salgados, those little snacks that can be found everywhere behind the counter of lanchonetes (informal restaurants) or botecos (bars) in Brazil. But we could just as well have told you about empadas (mini-tourtees), pastéis (slippers) or the Bahian mahogany (bean fritter), other sure values of the fast food in the Auriverde version.
There is only one challenge left for you: finding the right source of supply since, it goes without saying, the quality of salgados varies greatly from one place to another… Ready for the treasure hunt?
La Moqueca de peixe
Let’s stay in Bahia with the other culinary star of the region: the moqueca de peixe.
A layer of tomato, a layer of onions, a layer of white fish fillet; cover it all with coconut milk and let it simmer before adding the herbs and adding the final touch: a tablespoon of dendê oil, red palm oil, an essential ingredient of Bahian cuisine. And if you are not very « fishy », don’t worry; moqueca is also available in shrimp, chicken, egg…
The Pão de queijo
How and why this little « cheese bread » from Minas Gerais has not yet made its way onto the aperitif table around the world?
It’s a real mystery because once you’ve bitten into this crispy cabbage dough, a local variation of the gougère, made of manioc flour, egg and cow’s cheese, it’s impossible not to obsess over the next bite… Totally irresistible!
Açaí na tigela
It has the colour of chocolate, it tastes (a little) like chocolate but it is not chocolate. And it’s much healthier than that. The açaí is a berry harvested from the pinot palm tree, which is found mainly in the Amazon.
From there, açaí has assaulted the rest of the country and there isn’t a seaside kiosk that doesn’t offer it as a juice or smoothie. Iced and topped with muesli, a few slices of banana and a spoonful of honey, you get açaí na tigela (which means « açaí in a bowl »), nourishing, refreshing with the added bonus of being full of antioxidants.
But açaí is not the only fruit you will discover in Brazil. Maracuja, acerola, cupuaçu or cajà: you are in fruit heaven!
Well, it’s impossible to talk about Brazilian flavours without mentioning the inevitable caipirinha. Cachaça, cane sugar, lime and crushed ice galore: that’s the base but in the bars and clubs of Rio, São Paulo, Salvador or Recife, Brazil’s flagship cocktail knows many variations.
Strawberry, pineapple, mango or passion fruit: caipifrutas are particularly popular. But if you’re thinking of trying them all in a single evening, remember this ancient truth: party nights always have a tomorrow…