A lot of Brazilian food is influenced by African and Portuguese cuisine, as these nationalities make up a lot of Brazil’s population. By far the biggest favorite, the best known and the most traditional Brazilian dish is feijoada. Feijoada was brought to Brazil by Portuguese settlers, and the name of the dish comes from feijão, the Portuguese word for beans.
Feijoada, Brazilian black bean stew. Photo, recipe by Hank Shaw (view the recipe).
Feijoada, traditional Brazilian food
Feijoada is usually made with white, black or kidney beans, or a mixture, and fresh pork or beef. Very often the dish includes various smoked sausages as well, along with carrots, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and sometimes cabbage. It takes a long time to prepare and simmer, a whole day isn’t unusual, and then the stew is served with boiled rice and often coriander. After a long day on the hob, you should have a purple-black stew dotted with beans, meat and vegetables. Brazilians like to add side dishes like deep-fried bananas, deep-fried cassava and collard greens. A pot of hot chilli sauce is no stranger to feijoada either.
Brazilian street foods
Acarajé, black-eyed pea fritters from Bahia, Brazil. Photo, recipe by Cynthia Presser (view the recipe).
Brazilians are great street snackers, too, and you’ll see a lot of stalls selling treats like acarajé, which is deep-fried (are you seeing a theme here?) balls made of shrimp, onions and black-eyed peas. You’ll also spot coxinha, which are croquettes of chicken shaped like drumsticks. Brazil has a long coastline, so seafood is a very popular choice too. Moqueca de peixe is a very simple coconut and fish stew, or there’s caruru de camarao, a shrimp and okra gumbo-style stew.
The Brazilians are fond of condiments, especially chili sauce, but they have others too. Farofa is a savory accompaniment to Brazilian stews, and it’s made from toasted manioc meal and sprinkled on many a dish.
Pão de Queijo, Brazilian cheese bread. Photo, recipe by Emma Christensen (view the recipe).
Breakfast in Brazil
Pao de queijo, or cheese bread, is also a popular recipe. These puffy cheese rolls are often eaten for breakfast and washed down with strong coffee. Occasionally you’ll be offered these rolls as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, but they are primarily for breakfast.
Brazilians eat a lot of food
One thing you’ll notice about Brazilian food is that there’s lots of it! A decent adult-sized portion is often enough for two! Children are certainly well-fed, with their tiny bowls of feijoada being refilled as soon as they look a little empty. Very often you’ll be served fruit and vegetables just as they are, with maybe a drizzle of olive oil or lemon juice to add a bit of zing.
Brigadeiro, national truffle of Brazil. © Mayra(view the recipe).
The most popular dessert or sweet in Brazil are brigadeiros, a truffle-shaped ball of cocoa powder, butter and condensed milk. Once shaped and cooled, these dark brown balls are rolled into chocolate sprinkles and are a favorite for children’s birthday parties.
What do they drink?
Fruit juices are also highly popular in Brazil, as you’d imagine in a hot country. You’ll find the juices that you’re already familiar with, like lime, papaya, melon, pineapple and so on, but there’s also the juice of the acai berry, guarana and the fruta do conde, or custard apple. Brazilians cottoned on quick to the benefits of staying hydrated in a hot and humid climate, so you’ll often see street vendors selling big coconuts. These are not necessarily to eat, as the seller may slice off the top of the coconut and stick a straw into the middle for you to slurp the electrolyte-rich juice inside. This juice is invaluable in the fight against dehydration.
More from South America: Mexican cuisine.
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