Brazilian Cuisine is generally a variation of the food that can be found in other South America countries. Upon visiting Brazil, one will find that there are only variations of food that are found throughout the entire continent.
It is seldom to find food that is overly unique, but there are some delectable delights to be discovered.
Brazil was one of the last countries I planned to live in South America and being able to experience the food first hand was nothing short of a pleasure.
Understanding that Brazilians are meat lovers is the first step to appreciating the vast array of the options of food in Brazil. A Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse, is one of the mainstays of Brazilian cuisine.
The differences between cities and regions are vast in Brazil and this influences the variation in food. From African to Portuguese and even German, a little bit of everything can be found in Brazil. It is one of the only places in the world where everything meshes together beautifully.
This has happened naturally throughout time.
The United States can be described the same but the integration of cultures is quite the opposite. In United States cultures stick to their own kind. Asians stick with Asians and their own ethnic groups; Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. Latin Americans stick with their own kind within their own sub groups Colombians, Venezuelans, etc.
Brazil can be described as a tossed salad, everyone just lives together in harmony. Cultures influence each other and that can be clearly seen in its cuisine. The only other countries in the world where I have seen this harmonious living is in the culture of Canada and Suriname.
There is no “typical Brazilian dish” but an array of different options as one moves through alternate regions. One thing can be held constant however, the meat is definitely expected on every plate as well as French Fries and rice (typical Latin American cuisine minus the fries).
Living in Rio De Janeiro for close to 6 months, I will be highlighting some of unique (and fun) things that one must try upon visiting the popular city:
The Brazilian Buffet
From fine dining to the local eatery, the Brazilian buffet is a mainstay to Brazilian cuisine. Paying a fixed price for an all you can eat smorgasbord of meat is a common practice at Brazilian buffets in the United States.
A common practice is to have a button that is green on one side and red on the other. A full assemblage of waiters attend to your hungers desire by adding more and more meat on your plate until the button is flipped to red. Green means more please, red means stop.
This of course can be found in fine dining restaurants. Local eateries have a more logical way of basing how much to charge customers for their inglorious displays of hunger, plates are charged by weight.
A more logical way to get a return on your investment in Brazil, is if more meat is chosen one pays more. Whereas if only lettuce and vegetables are consumed a hearty restaurant citizen is charged much less. Desert indulgences are included in the buffet price, one must not forget to include it on the plate!
After being weighed one is allowed to consume their chosen morsels. Once finished, a patron is expected to get into line (lines are common in Brazil) and exchange pleasantries with the cashier.
Keep the receipt, it is often checked before leaving.
This Brazilian cuisine is a mainstay for fast food lovers and this isn’t your normal United States fast food. Street vendors from across the country offer chicken, steak, and sausage on an everyday grill. Many meats are even breaded and fried.
If one is interested in heaven on a stick various pieces of meat can be ordered wrapped in bacon or with cheese in-between.
After your meatatarian meal has been prepared according to the proper tastes a last feature will be added, farofa. Wikipedia officially states that farofa is made out of manioc flour.
In Brazil the flour is cooked with mixed salt, shredded bacon, and butter (garlic is also a common ingredient). After the meat is cooked and glazed the juices from the meat attract the farofa and it adds an exceptional seasoning to the delicious meat.
Churrasco means meat, inho means small. Add those together and you have Churrascinho, small pieces of meat.
Even sushi restaurants, known as Japanese cuisine in Brazil, offers an all you can eat option. Commonly known as Rodizo, a piece of paper is given out to guests where selections are made. While there are a fixed set of sushi variations to choose from, one can order an endless supply of sushi.
This was one of my favorite cuisines in Brazil as most places around the world do not offer all you can eat sushi.
Beverages in Brazil are quite unique. In many countries around the world beverage conglomerates adjust drinks to local tastes and customs. In Peru there is Inca Cola, in Colombia there is Colombiana and a vast array of fruit flavored soft drinks.
Postobon, the apple inspired soda is one of the most majestic products produced in Colombia.
Taking advantage of its vast Amazon rainforest, Brazil takes advantage of a fruit called Guaraná. Various drinks are derived from the fruit including artificial flavored drinks that have the same taste. Everything from carbonated soda and fruit juice, Guarana is a mainstay beverage in Brazil.
Many street vendors offer the carbonated soda version, Guaraná Artartica, and the fruit version, Guaravitá.
Guaraná is sometimes more commonly seen than Coke itself. Keep in mind that Diet Coke is called Coca Light, there is even a special Coke Light Plus with lime.
If one is able to visit the unique desert lagoons in the state of Maranho a special brand of Coke called Jesus is made. Don’t ask questions. Funny enough, Guaraná Antarctica is produced by the Anheuser Busch company based in United States.
A sign of tranquility and the vision of what most visitors consider to be a major part of their vacation. Caipirinhas are quite simple to make and if one is on a diet it should be avoided.
A simple national cocktail contains cachaça which is otherwise known as sugar cane rum, a mountain of sugar, and lime. It is the most common alcoholic beverage to find in Brazil and very simple to make.
Disclaimer: WanderingTrader will not be responsible to what happens after consuming Caipirinhas.
Another common fruit found in the Amazon, açai berries have been recently proclaimed as a modern wonder of the antioxidants which is now popular in the west. Brazilians eat açai berries as a hearty desert, protein shake and a snack. They create desserts and drinks that are so high in calories and fat it can easily lead one to end up with a vigorous heart attack.
Packed with enough calories to make Jenny Craig look thin, the acai berries smoothie that is served in Brazil is quite the filling drink.
Granola, bananas, açai berries, and guaraná syrup is all mixed to combine a great filling treat.
Street Snacks and Dessert
Brazilian cuisine won’t be the same until you have had Brigadeiro. A chocolate that rivals only Nutella, this small desert is infused with chocolate sprinkles, sweetened condensed milk, and a heightened sense of happiness. Much more than regular chocolate of course.
Things are brought together with a bit of butter and often sold right on the street.
Make sure to purchase the home made version of Brigadeiro as the mass produced versions found in department stores just aren’t the same. If one were to walk up the Santa Theresa mountain from the popular Lapa party district, a beautiful elderly women sells the best homemade brigadeiros in Rio.
Cuzcuz is another treat that one can find readily on the streets of Brazil. It can be described as a Rice Crispies treat made out of grated coconut topped with sweetened condensed milk. This snack can be found sparingly on the corners of the city.
Many variations include ingredients such as vanilla and sugar as well.
As mentioned earlier, Brazilian cuisine and food in the country can vary greatly. While much of the food mentioned above can be found throughout the country it is highlighted in Rio De Janeiro.
Many tourists don’t consider the food in Brazil as a reason to visit the country. However, food really makes the trip that much better. Stay hungry my friends.