Foods Gringos Can’t Miss in Brazil
This post was originally posted on Yelp Blog. Check it out here!
You have probably already heard that you “must try brigadeiros and coxinhas” while in Brazil, but what are the other unmissable foods and drinks? Whether you are vegetarian, carnivore or have a sweet tooth, there is something amazing on Brazil’s menus waiting for you. Pack your bags and don’t forget your appetite at home.
Baião de Dois
This is traditional dish from the Northeast of Brazil. It consists of rice, beans (like most meals in our country), dried meat, bacon and a cheese similar to halloumi. The name comes from a traditional Northeastern dance and dates back to the 1940’s. Baião de Dois is usually accompanied by farofa, couscous and cilantro.
Usually served in the states of Espirito Santo and Bahia, Brazilians have been making Moqueca for at least 300 years. Recipe uses fish, a broth made with coconut milk, onions, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and many local spices. It is slowly cooked in a terracota casserole dish. Usually this is served with a fish mush along side. The hardest is deciding which state makes it the best so get ready to try both and decide for yourself!
You probably think you’ve had tapioca, but our version is completely different. Imagine a tortilla, but like a crepe/pancake version of it with a chewy texture — A-HA, that is a Brazilian tapioca. We usually have it for breakfast and can fill it with cheese, meat, bananas or just butter. We extract the flour from cassava (or manioc), a very common root in South and Central America.
If you have ever been to Mexico you know what tamales look like. Pamonhas look similar but taste completely different. It is a creamy paste made of sweet corn that gets wrapped in corn husks. Sometimes it’s savory and sometimes it’s sweet. If you want to make a Brazilian laugh try to say, in a singing voice: “Pamonha, pamonha, pamonha”.
There is a God in Bahia and he certainly loves food. You must have realized by now that a lot of our deliciousness comes from the Northeast of the country, and you are right. This might look like a small snack but you will be pretty full after just one. With African influence, Acarajé is a dumpling made of black-eyed peas, which have been ground and seasoned with salt and grated onion and well beaten before being fried in palm oil (dendê) and served with chili sauce, dried shrimp, vatapá, tomatoes and peppers. Found mostly in the streets, make sure you don’t skip the bahiana selling them.. If you like it spicy ask for a hot (quente) acarajé, otherwise a cold (frio) would be ideal. Are you getting hungry yet?
Some Brazilian fruits are more famous than others. Açaí for instance is now a big hit anywhere in the world, and guaraná has gained popularity since the soda version of it gained popularity. However, you would be surprised with the amount of delicious fruits Brazil has to offer. Have you ever tried cajú? Did you know caju (or Brazilian) nuts come from a fruit? I highly recommend you have a fruit tasting and try jackfruit, carambola, jaboticaba, graviola, pitanga, cajá, cupuaçu and whatever else you find in the market. Some of these are very regional but you can find popsicles or juices in most cities if the fresh fruit is not available.
Don’t worry, it’s not as spicy as you would imagine. In fact Brazilians don’t eat a lot of spicy food. This comes from the same family of tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant. Even though it is not spicy at all, Biquinho is very aromatic and brings a lot of flavor to the dish.
Virado à Paulista
Dates back from the colonial times and it’s a dish prepared with beans, onions, garlic and fat. It obviously has a bit of mandioca and pork ribs. On the side you can see fried plantains, fried eggs and kale. As the name suggests, it’s traditional from São Paulo state. You can find in most “botecos” that offer PFs (pratos feitos) around the country.
Mandioca (fried and all)
Manioc, cassava, aipim, yucca… there are so many names to describe the same thing it is kind of crazy. All you need to know is that this is a traditional root from South and Central America and it’s got the third biggest carb concentration after rice and corn. It’s one of the world’s most basic foods in developing countries and it helps many families to have a better quality of life. In Brazil we can make anything out of it. Deep fry it, make flour, pudding, bread and more. If you head to the bar tonight, make sure you order a portion of deep fried mandioca.
Bolo de Coco Gelado
Coconut and cake, you can’t go wrong with that. In Brazil we love desserts and they are sweeter than you would expect. Bolo de Coco Gelado is a coconut cake served cold, and the texture is so perfect you won’t be able to control yourself. It’s easy to carry, as they cut and wrap the slices in foil; each bite is like a little piece of heaven — believe me.
Even though we have hardly scratched the surface of all of the deliciousness that Brazil has to offer, you already have a long to-do list, so we will leave it at that. If you are a foodie, here are some other things you should Google and try (if you haven’t already) Coxinha, Brigadeiro, Quindim, Feijoada, Açaí, Filé Oswaldo Aranha, Pão de Queijo, Pastel, Caldo de Cana, Goiabada, Carne de sol na manteiga de garrafa.