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Brazilian Food: Typical & Traditional Cuisine

in Brazil Travel Blog, Travel Blogs

The Food in Brazil 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.

Cafe in Rio De Janeiro

A great cafe on the border of Ipanema & Copacabana (Copa-nema)

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.

Brazilian Buffet

The weighing machines at the Brazilian buffets

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.

churrasquinho

Churrasquinho!

Churrascinho

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.

Churrasquinho Brazil

Inspecting the Churrasquinho in Brazil. Yep! Definitely Delicious.

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

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.

Copacabana Beach Rio De Janeiro

Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro

Caipirinhas

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.

Açai

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.

Coconut Water

Coconut water stand in centro Rio De Janeiro

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.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

John February 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I don`t think Brazil is a place for vegetarians LOL I love the concept of weighing the food.

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Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans February 14, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Brazilian cuisine is often overlooked, so thanks for sharing this post! I love Brazilian food – it’s so different. I recently made moqueca at home (a Brazilian seafood stew) and it brought back so many yummy memories of my time in Brazil.

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Kim February 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

I’ve never eaten much Brazilian food, but I’m intrigued now after seeing the Churrascinho

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Priscila April 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

It’s really nice to read about so many things that is so present in my life and I’ve never think about. Also I’m happy that you liked. All this things that you described are so good and it’s the first time that I see someone talks like that about Churrasquinho. But you’re right, it’s really good! We make every saturday at my house.
PS: Are you living in Rio yet?!

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Marcello April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Just got back to Rio I am living in Cinelandia right now. Do you live in Rio Priscila?

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Nicole April 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Looks delicious!

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Mahega June 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm

My pure vegetarian husband and I had no problems in Brazil and we are going back. Though meat is most popular there is a wide variety of beans, lentils, vegetables and fruits and juices available everywhere. One can survive and find ‘untainted’ foods.

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Ron | Active Planet Travels July 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I can’t wait to try a Steak Churrascinho with a side of Postobon to wash it down!! :-D Thanks for the post, I’ll keep an eye out for them when I pass through!

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Niko August 11, 2013 at 4:28 am

You should experiment QUINDIM. It’s ridiculously delicious!

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Natalia November 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Marcello, thanks for writing this post and starting to get people thinking about Brazilian food. Unfortunately, Brazilian cuisine is remarkably underrepresented and misunderstood. Beyond a few foods – the ubiquitous feijoada, pão de queijo, brigadeiro, moqueca etc – most people have no point of reference and in fact have little idea of the true richness and variation of Brazilian cuisine.

The first point to note is that it is extremely regional; the Brazilian landscape varies dramatically, meaning that different regions have specific ingredients available. To take a simple example, the Cerrado savannah region in the west could not be more different from the tropical rainforest in the north; it’s like having several countries all in one. Indeed, just looking at the sheer size of Brazil on a world map starts to put this into perspective. In fact, the Madrid Fúsion culinary summit this year made the move of specifically inviting chefs from the state of Minas Gerais because Brazilian food is so varied it would be impossible to understand it as a whole.

Brazilian food is now starting to get some overseas attention, largely thanks to the hard work of Brazilian chefs, several of whom now have restaurants listed as some of the best in the world. However, I think it’s time that people took the time to understand more about the wealth of ingredients and diverse traditions Brazil has to offer. As chef Alberto Landgraf recently commented, “[Brazil is a] place to visit and discover new flavours and have new culinary experiences”.

Reply

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