When you think of Brazil, only two things normally come to mind: rowdy carnivals and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Few people realize that this Central American country has so much more to offer. Brazil is regarded is a culinary mecca since it has been influenced by so many other unique cultures. You can easily identify the influence of other Spanish speaking countries, Portugal and even Japan.
The easiest way to get a sense of a country’s cuisine is to sample some of the street food. This is typically the food sold by vendors on the street or in shopping centers. These foods are served in small portions and are made for immediate consumption. Here are 5 of Brazil’s most popular street foods:
Brazilians love barbecued meat and have turned the art of barbecuing into a science. Restaurants which specialize in this type of cooking are called Churrascarias. Picanha is a type of sirloin steak that is seasoned, marinated and barbecued to perfection. Since this meat is taken from the top of the steak, it usually covered by a very thick layer of fat. Picanha is like a little piece of heaven because the meat succulent, has a nice smoky flavor and just melts away in your mouth.
Coxinha is a deep-fried dish that is said to have originated from a region in São Paulo. Coxinha is a crunchy, tear-drop shaped croquette. It is a very popular type of street food in Brazil. The croquette is filled with a soft, creamy type of cheese called Catupiry and chicken.
It is obvious that this dish was influenced by Middle Eastern visitors. Many have speculated that the dish has Lebanese origins. The dish is a patty that has been filled with a mixture of bulgur wheat and lamb or beef that has been seasoned with a careful blend of herbs and spices. The patty is served raw, fried, or baked.
This dish has Portuguese origins but made its way into the hearts of Brazilians. This dish is prepared as a snack and is quite delicious. Bacalhau is another name for salted codfish. The dish is comprised of strips of salted cod and potatoes that have been seasoned and fried. The exterior is nice and crunchy while the inside soft and fluffy.
Acarajé with Vatapá
This African inspired dish packs quite a punch since it is loaded with very hot spices. The Acarajé is made from crushed, fried beans. It is then stuffed with prawns, nuts, vegetables, and seasoning. The result is a dish that many consider too pretty to be served as street food. This dish might be quite appealing to the eyes, but it is the unique taste that many find unforgettable.
You cannot get the full sense of the cuisine of Brazil simply by feeding yourself only street food. Visitors tend to enjoy a few full meals before you return home. Here are three of the most likely suspects that can be found on a typical Brazilian menu:
Moqueca is traditional dish made with stewed fish. The fish is cooked with tomatoes, onions, annatto seeds, peppers, and coconut milk. It is then topped with farofa, which is fried manioc flour and pirão, a special type of spicy porridge. It will take some time to wrap your mind around the idea of a spicy porridge. The dish itself is fragrant and looks quite appealing.
This dish is popular in just about every region is Brazil and is typically eaten on Wednesdays or Saturdays. It is made by stewing a blend of sausages, pork and black beans. If prepared the traditional way, this dish can take an entire day to prepare since it involves soaking the beans to soften them. Some of the meats used in this dish are also preserved in salt and will need to be soaked for quite some time as well. It is usually served with cachaça and orange slices to make the dish a bit easier to digest.
Vatapá is another Brazilian seafood dish that is as much a part of the culture as salsa dancing. It is a thick stew made with shrimp and ground up nuts. It is then served with rice or a side of acarajé.
Whenever you decide to visit Brazil, please do not shy away from the native foods. Trying strange, unfamiliar foods is what makes a vacation unforgettable. Most people only get to visit this beautiful country once, so make the trip count and live a little!