When traveling to any country the easiest way sample the culture is to explore their cuisine and Brazil is no different. Brazil is a mixture of Portuguese, African (with a strong tie to their origins), and native indigenous/Amazonian cultures and their food represents that.
There are many different foods that are not on here, and if you explore the North-eastern and North-western parts of Brazil you will get a more African and Indigenous influence in the food, respectively. Also, if you go to Sao Paulo there is a large Japanese influence which allows you to try a lot of good Japanese food.
- Sucos (Juice) – Brazil has an abundance of fruits that you’ve never heard of and many that you may think you know but never truly tried. I love Açaí, which you can’t really get in the US, only a diluted blended version. Others to try are guarana (which my favorite drink is made of), caju (a fruit that grows off of the cashew nut) and maracujá (passion fruit).
- Feijoada – This is a black bean and pork dish that was created by Black slaves and has now become Brazil’s national dish. If you are not an adventurous eater I would recommend ordering the light version, “Feijada lite’ as this is made with more common pieces of a pig. The original, still hangs onto its roots, the slaves were often given the left over parts of a pig and made the dish from these parts and it is still a custom to do so today. A new twist that is becoming more and more popular is a coxinha de feijoada, which is a fried ball version of this soup dish. There is also the caldinho de feijao, which is just the black beans if you are a vegetarian.
- Pastéis, Empadas, and Coxinhos- If you are familiar with empanadas these may be somewhat familiar to you. They are fried breaded balls or perogie shaped dishes with meat, chicken, shrimp or cheese. There is a variety of them that can satisfy whatever tickles your taste buds.
- Salgadinhos – I am a huge fan of these, they are something between a hot pocket and a sandwich. They can have any mixture of different things inside, ham and cheese, cheese, spinach, pizza ingredients, and more. They are usually a bit greasy but they are a delicious quick snack to enjoy while on the go.
- Pão de Queijo – This dish stems from the state of Mines Gerais, and is similar to the pastels and coxinhos but is a bit more like a French pastry with different kinds of cheese in them.
- Chopp (choppi) – This is the draft beer that a bar/restaurant has available. True, you could simply enjoy any other cerveja (beer) that they happen to have but this is a bit different. Chopp is the same as the can/bottle version in all variances except for one – temperature. Plus, personally, I believe draft beer tastes better but that is just my opinion. Chopp is traditionally served cold, and I mean really cold. You have to remember that you are in tropical South America, and it is hot. Think about how refreshing a cold beer on a hot day – now image that beer served extra chilled…heaven. One thing I noticed in Rio de Janeiro was that the Cariocas really liked their beer with a lot of head. At first I just thought the waiters were crappy pourers, but it is how they like their beer. Therefore, if you are like me and don’t want to waste money on a beer that is half head ask for yours with, “sem colorihno”
- Caiparinhas – A Caiparinha is the national drink of Brazil and unless you enjoyed it in Brazil trust me it isn’t the same. I’ve tried making it myself and trying it at other restaurants but could never get it to taste like to ones I’ve enjoyed in Brazil. It is a simple drink made only with limes, ice, sugar and cachaça…which leads me onto
- Cachaça – Yes you will try cachaça in your caiparinhas but there are many different varieties of cachaça. Think of it in terms of tequila – there is stuff like Jose Cuervo which if perfect for a margarita but then there is Patron, which is best for sipping – and everything inbetween good for straight shots.
- Charrascarias (Rodizio) – This isn’t a particular item but a style of restaurant in Brazil, more commonly known in the US as a Brazilian steakhouse. It consists of an all you can eat meat buffet. There are usually little green and red chips/markers that let the waiters know if you would like them to approach your table with whatever delectable skewered meat they happen to be carrying around. As long as you have green facing up they will continue to serve you chicken, lamb, steak, pork, etc. etc. and then some. Just make sure you are hungry and that you aren’t a vegetarian. I’ve also been to a pizza rodizio which followed the same style, your table might have ordered pepperoni but it is offered to the whole restaurant and likewise what others order…in case you are a vegetarian but still want to experience. Sorry vegans this isn’t for you.
- Farofa – Personally, I can’t stand this stuff it is just dry bred crumbs and doesn’t add anything to the dish. Yet, in Brazil you will find it everywhere. It is toasted flour or cornmeal that is often served with a variety of dishes, be it meat, rice, or salad. There are a lot of different recipes