Eating your way around Brazil


Brazilian stewBrazil is the world’s fifth largest country by land mass and population, and the largest in South America. As a Portuguese colony until the early 1800’s, Portuguese is still Brazil’s official language.

How much do we Brits actually know about Brazilian cuisine though? According to research conducted by MMR Research Worldwide around the World Cup this year, females are more interested in trying lacta diamante negro chocolate, coconut cake, caipirinha cocktail and cheese bread mix, whilst males are more interested in trying Brahma beer!

In fact, Brazilian cuisine varies widely depending on which part of the country you are in: which reflects the country’s mixed population. Many dishes are influenced by Portugal, including what is broadly considered to be Brazil’s national dish, Feijoada.

As with many national traditional dishes which have survived the tests of time, Brazil’s feijoada is a stew of meat, vegetables and pulses. It’s probably fair to say that each Brazilian household will have its own interpretation of this dish, but generally it will always consist of black beans (a black turtle bean which has a dense and meaty texture) and pork and beef.

The meat used can often be of the nose to tail variety now so fashionable in trendy restaurants: pork ear, nose, tail and feet, and beef loin and tongue. Sausages, bacon and pork ribs are also often included in Brazilian feijoada.

Some regions will add vegetables to the stew at the end of the cooking time, and the dish is most traditionally served with white rice, and oranges to aid digestion.

In Western Europe, Brazilian restaurants tend to focus on the Brazilian barbecue style of food, which reflects the communal culture of eating in Brazil, and of course their access to good quality meat. Originating from the Pampas region of Brazil, this style of cuisine is often served ‘rodizio’ style where waiters carve meat directly onto your plate from skewers carried around to attract your fancy.

Streetfood, also becoming more fashionable in the west, is available widely in Brazil. Many dishes are deep fried and often bread and cheese based.  Coxinhas are cheese and chicken croquettes, deep fried and gooey. Pao de queijo are bread rolls with cheese baked into them. Pasteis are similar to Mexican empinadas: pastry filled with pretty much anything you fancy and deep fried. You’ll also find deep fried doughnuts (bolinho de chuva) for a sugary dessert fix.

BrigadeiroBrigadeiro are little chocolate sweets made with condensed milk – a bit like truffles, and you can also find a coconut variation called Beijinho de coco (literally ‘little coconut kisses).

Finally for the traditional drinks of Brazil, of course there is coffee, but we can’t go without mentioning the Caipirinha cocktail, made from the national spirit cahaca. Distilled from sucarcane juice, cahaca is similar to rum. You can find it in white and dark forms, and the latter is often aged in barrels and designed to be drunk straight.

We’ll be sharing some Brazilian recipes with you in this week’s weekend recipe, so drop by and take a look on Saturday.

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