population is a racial mix of native Amerindians, Portugueses,
Africans, Italians, Germans, Syrians, Lebanese and Asians. This has created
a national cooking style marked by the preservation of regional differences.
five main cuisine regions
Amazonas, Amapá, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins
the region is known as Amazônia for it includes a large part of the rain
forest, and tributaries flowing into the Amazon River. Culturally,
the Amazon basin is heavily populated
by native Indians or people of mixed Indian and
ancestry who live on a diet of fish, root vegetables such as manioc, yams, and peanuts, plus palm
cuisine of this region is heavily Indian-influenced. One popular dish is Caruru
do Parã, a one-pot meal of dried shrimp, okra, onion, tomato, cilantro, and palm
Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte, and Sergipe
the region comprises a dry, semi-arid region used for cattle
ranches inland from the fertile coastal plain, an economically important sugar cane
and cacao growing
State of Bahia the predominate cuisine is Afro-Bahian, which evolved from plantation
cooks improvising on African, Indian, and traditional Portuguese dishes using
locally available ingredients.
dishes include: Vatapa and Moqueca (both have seafood and palm oil)
the remainder of the coastal plains there is less African influence on the food,
but seafood, shellfish, and tropical
fruits are menu staples.
in the arid, drought stricken cattle-growing and farm lands, foods typically include
ingredients like dried meat, rice, beans, goat, manioc and corn meal.
District of Brasilia plus Goiás, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul
region comprising dry open savannas or prairies with wooded terrain in
the north. The famous Pantanal, one of the finest game and fishing regions
on earth, is also located in the Central-West region of Brazil.
beef and pork from the vast ranches
of the region dominate the menu, along with harvested crops of soybean, rice, maize, and manioc.
Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo
Southeast is the industrial heart of Brazil, and is home to several distinctive
cooking styles for which Brazil is probably best-known.
Minas Gerais the regional
dishes include a lot of maize, pork, beans, and local soft ripened cheeses. Around Rio and São Paulo, feijoada completa (a
simmered bean and meat dish of Bahian origin), is popular especially as a Wednesday
or Saturday luncheon. Also consumed frequently is arroz-feijao, or rice and beans.
Traditionally, black beans are prepared in Rio, pinto (brown) beans in São Paulo,
and either black or pinto in Minas Gerais. Another typical food in São Paulo is
the Virado à Paulista, that consists of rice, tutu de feijão (beans with manioc
flour), stewed cabbage and pork meat.
São Paulo, the influence of European and North African immigrants is noticed in
the region's cuisine. The majority arrived from Italy, along with many from Portugal, Spain and Japan, plus other European
and Arab nations. So, there it's possible to find all kind of cuisines.
Espírito Santo, there is
a lot of Italian and German influence in local dishes both savory and sweet. The
state dish, though, is of Amerindian origin, and is called
Moqueca Capixaba (mainly
fish and tomato). Minas Gerais' Cuisine is also strongly felt here, with many
restaurants serving that fare. Farofa, Polenta, Couve, Choriso
and fried Banana are examples of popular dishes from Minas Gerais.
Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina
the national cuisine the gaucho (sort of cowboy of the pampa), contributed
dishes made with sun- or salt-dried meats and churrasco (a Brazilian relative
of the BBQ), a meal of
flame grilled fresh meats.
European immigrants are accustomed to a wheat-based diet, and introduced wine,
vegetables, and dairy products into Brazilian cuisine.
When potatoes were not available they
discovered how to use the native sweet manioc as a replacement.
(feijão) Beans appear on the table daily in many forms and colors. Some consider
the black bean (feijão preto) to be the preferred national bean. It is not uncommon,
however, to find dried red, white, brown, and even pink beans in the markets.
(côco) An important ingredient throughout the country, coconut is used
in soups, cocktails, poultry, fish, and shellfish recipes, as well as desserts
and sweets. Various forms are utilized: unripe green coconuts (côco verde); ripe
yellow or brown coconuts (côco amarelo); the soft, almost buttery textured meat
from green coconuts (côco de água); or grated (côco ralado). The liquid inside
(água de côco) can be drunk. It does not have much taste but is a bit salty.
Oil (azeite de dendê) A heavy tropical oil
extracted from the African
palm growing in Northern Brazil. One of the basic ingredients in Bahian or
Afro-Brazilian cuisine, it adds a wonderful flavor and bright orange color to
foods. There is no equivalent substitute, but it is available in markets specializing
in Brazilian imports.
salted codfish (bacalhau) Introduced by the Portuguese, it finds its way into
appetizers, soups, main courses, and savory puddings. One common method of refreshing
the dried fish is to soak large pieces with the skin and bone removed in cold
water for three to four hours, changing the water every hour.
shrimp (camarão seco) In various sizes, dried shrimp are utilized in many
dishes from the northern regions of the country. Usually obtainable in North America
at oriental or Latin food stores. Before
use they are covered with cold water and soaked overnight (though unlike the codfish,
the shrimp does not require hourly water-changes). The water is discarded before
the shrimp are used.
(limão) In Brazil the fruit is green, small and quite tart, more like an American
lime would appear and taste.
(Brazilian style - arroz brasileiro or arroz simples) Long grained rice is
briefly sauteed in garlic and oil before being boiled.
In addition to garlic, some Brazilian cooks add small amounts of onion, diced tomato, or sliced
for additional flavor. Properly done, each grain is fluffy and the rice will not
Brazilian-style rice: Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan
and saute a clove of garlic. When browned add salt. Add the rice and saute 2 to
3 minutes -- until it looks translucent. Do not allow the grains to brown. Add
hot water (about 2 to 2-1/2 cups per cup of rice). Cook, partially covered, over
medium-high heat until most of the water is absorbed. Uncover, lower the heat
and continue cooking until fluffy.
Manioc Meal (farofa) Manioc flour lightly sauteed in butter until it resembles
buttered bread crumbs. Other ingredients are frequently added. It's eaten as a
side dish to the feijoada.
Completa - the national dish of Brazil For over 300 years feijoada completa, a
mixture of black beans, pork and farofa (manioc meal) has been the national dish
of Brazil. It started as a dish for the slaves brought from Africa, made out of
cheap ingredients: pork ears, feet and tail, beans and manioc flour. It has been
adopted by all the other cultural regions, and there are hundreds of ways to make
it. Visit http://www.brazzil.com/p24nov96.htm
for some of the many recipes.
are small savory snacks, mostly sold in corner shops. There are many types of
filled and fried pastries. Pão de Queijo ("cheese bread"), a typical Brazilian
cuisine, is a small pastry filled with (or made of) cheese, usually with requeijão
(a soft cheese), sometimes called by its most famous brand, Catupiry®. It is typical
of the state of Minas Gerais. Coxinha is a chicken croquette shaped like a chicken
thigh. Kibe is the salgadinho version of the Syrian dish Kibbeh.
branco is milled tapioca cooked with coconut milk and sugar. The technique
is identical to how couscous is cooked in hot water,
but this is a dessert.
many other tropical fruits are shipped from the Amazon all over the country
and consumed in smoothies.
dogs in Brazil are always offered with a dazzling array of condiments including
various dressings, boiled quail eggs, peas, corn, olives and crunchy potato straw.
is the Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane,
and it is the main ingredient in the national drink, the Caipirinha.
ethnic foods and restaurants that are frequently found in Brazil include Lebanese, Syrian, and Japanese cuisine (Sushi).
is also quite popular. Usually on rolled out crust that is very similar to pie
crust, very little sauce, and a number of interesting toppings in addition to
the traditional pizza toppings - like guava jam and cheese, banana and cinnamon, catupiry and chicken, and chocolate.
and vegan food
many traditional dishes are prepared with meat or fish, it is not difficult to
live on vegetarian food as well.
The country has a rich supply of all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Even on the
streets, one can bargain cheese buns or Pão de Queijo.
not every restaurant will provide vegetarian dishes and some seemingly vegetarian
meals may turn out to include unwanted ingredients. A simple and usually inexpensive
alternative, which is also advisable for vegans, is to visit kilo- or all-you-can-eat-restaurants
(which should not be mistaken for fast-food-restaurants). In the former, food
is paid based on its weight, in the later, a fixed price is paid for an arbitrary
amount of food. In both cases, customers usually assemble the dishes of their
choice from a large buffet in self-service.
In general, these restaurants continuously prepare a wide range of fresh dishes
and one can easily find food that fits the personal taste.