- While Brazilian food uses native ingredients in every region, the cultural influences and available resources vary wildly by region. Northern Brazilian cuisine incorporates more fish and cassava (a local root), while Southern Brazilian cuisine incorporates traditions from nearby Portugal and Uruguay and often is more meat-heavy, due to livestock being a primary industry here.
- Another primary industry here- rum! While Brazilian food is plenty delicious on its own, somehow the sugarcane spirit makes every bite taste just a little bit better. The spirit-making tradition has its roots in the Portuguese colonization of the country. Cachaca, rum’s cousin, is made with local sugarcane and is processed with a blend of African, Indian and Portuguese spirit-making practices. Enjoy a vital part of Brazil’s economic history in a Caipirinha, made with sugar and lime.
- Feijoada is known as the national dish of Brazil. This hearty stew can be made from a variety of meats, and most often incorporates beans. Traditionally, the stew incorporates many off-cuts of meat that would otherwise be wasted, speaking to the cuisine’s resourcefulness and depth. The stew can incorporate dried meat as well, and is enjoyed throughout the country.
Cassava is a native root that has been used in Brazilian cooking for centuries. The country now produces 50% of the world’s cassava – but plenty of it stays on home soil. The root, also known as yuca, is gluten- and grain-free, and can be prepared in endless ways. It can also be turned into flour, which Brazilians use in pão de queijo, a light, airy cheese bread often enjoyed with coffee.
STEP AWAYYY FROM THE RESTAURANT:
At many Brazilian family gatherings, you can find salgadinhos, which refers to a wide array of savory snacks. Less formal than full meals, and with smaller amounts of costly ingredients like meat and cheese, the filled pastries are available everywhere, and in many different iterations. They are the perfect party food: salty, great with beer, and offers a perfect chance to catch up with friends as you graze on an assortment.
BRING IT HOME:
This recipe was inspired by Bela Gil, a popular host of a cooking show in Brazil. You can read some more essential facts about this renaissance woman here.
While feijoada might get all the glory, muqueca is another wonderful stew most often enjoyed in the Northeast of the country, particularly in bajia. This vibrant, spicy fish stews speaks most clearly to the African cultural influences on the cuisine. We love this dish for its versatility — its richness is welcome on a cold night, but the spice will offer cooling relief on a hot summer’s day.
3 lbs. flaky white fish (cod or snapper)
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbs. salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
2 red peppers, cut into thin long strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
3 tbs. cilantro, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped
Steamed white rice, for serving
Combine fish with salt, lemon and garlic in large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet until melted. Add fish and cook for 30 seconds until the fish just starts to turn white. Add the coconut milk, peppers, onions, and 1 cup water, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer fish, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and scallion and remove from heat. Serve over steamed white rice.