Brazil’s three tastiest treats: Put a little history in your mouth

By Guest Contributor KEVIN RAUB

Brazilian restaurants outside of the country are not often bastions of gourmet delight: the ubiquitous, all-you-can-eat steakhouses usually set the gastronomic bar somewhere just above buffet. But within Brazil’s diverse borders, the country’s rich cooking heritage, a vibrant patchwork sewn from culinary traditions of the Portuguese, Africa and the country’s own native Indians, is one of the most diverse on earth. Throw in a wave of immigrant tastes into the mix, namely Italian, German, Arab and Japanese influences, and Brazilian cuisine is a wicked witches’ brew that stretches incalculably beyond an endless line of rotisserie grilled meats. But while food is always a highlight of any trip to the South American workhouse, many dishes are lost on visitors for no other reason than Culinary Ignorance, a travel crime punishable by bland entrees and disappointing desserts. Do not let your taste buds get caught high and dry – here are three do-not-miss dishes that pack a wallop of flavour – and history – into their recipes.

Feijoada
Brazil’s national dish is normally reserved for Saturday afternoons, though more touristy areas will feature it other days of the week as well. Done right it is quite a production: a dozen or so piping hot cauldrons set across a table indicate a feast of Biblical proportions is about to commence. What is in those things? Well, a selection of hearty stews, each featuring different types of smoked and sun-fried meats cooked with black beans, served alongside rice, kale, orange slices and butter-browned manioc flour (known as farofa). It was once believed to be considered a luxury dish for African slaves in Brazil as it was cheap to make and featured scrap meat cuts that coffee barons and colonial conquerors would have otherwise tossed. Maybe. But more popular conventional culinary wisdom indicates feijoada is derived from European stews, namely the traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes. Either way, find yourself a bowl of it, Saturday or not – it goes great with a caipirinha!

Moqueca
Arguably Brazilian cuisine’s finest moment, the moqueca is an amalgam that represents Brazil in a mouthful. With a base of African palm oil (dendê) and coconut milk (known as moqueca Bahiana) or olive oil instead (known as moqueca Capixaba), it is a lovely seafood stew that arrives swimming with fish, lobster, shrimp or any combination of the three, stewed in a traditional clay pot with onions, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro and served over rice with farofa and pirão, a fish sauce-based mash. You will often find a fiery Bahian hot sauce made with sharp redmalagueta peppers alongside as well. It is often said the moqueca has been prevalent on Brazilian dinner tables for 300 years, the Bahianaversion steeped in African influences; the Capixaba version by native Indian cuisine, notably the pokeka, a simpler dish of fish and peppers roasted in banana leaves over hot coals.

Pizza Paulistana
This one might surprise a few folks, but yes, pizza – specifically pizza in São Paulo, known as pizza Paulistana – is outrageously good and not to be missed. A wave of immigration during the industrial revolution of the early 20th century brought scores of Italians to the city and São Paulo now boasts the highest Italian population outside Italy – some 6.5 million including descendants – and those folks brought their pizza recipes to the city while leaving their strict rules behind. As a result, pizza Paulistana is chock full of Italian goodness but often with a Brazilian twist, like Catupiry cheese, for example, a creamy cheese only found in Brazil that is often paired with chicken. And eating pizza in the city is not without its rituals: it is traditionally eaten on Sunday, always with a knife and fork, often paired with Brazilian draft beer. There are more than 6,000 pizzerias in São Paulo to choose from, so it is easy to get lost among the mozzarella. Just remember this: Pizzaria Bráz (http://www.casabraz.com.br), with outlets in Moema, Pinheiros and Higienópolis as well as two outlets in Rio de Janeiro), is often voted the city’s best while Pizzeria Speranza (http://www.pizzaria.com.br), in Moema and Bixiga, has been making one of the world’s best margarita pizza since 1958.

About Travel to Brazil Blog - BrazilnutsTours

Brazil Nuts Tours was started in 1985 on the proposition that travelers needed a travel company that combined the highest level of customer service, unmatched product expertise and competitive rates. Over the years, we have succeeded in our mission, and have developed a reputation as the experts in travel to Brazil and South America. Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff has helped thousands of travelers discover the Brazil they really wanted to see, from Rio’s beaches and samba clubs through the pristine wilderness of the Amazon to the sun-drenched shores of Bahia and everywhere in between. Customer Service Our knowledgeable staff will customize your perfect itinerary free of charge; simply fill out our Trip Planning Sheet, send it to us and you’ll have an answer, generally within 24 hours Innovative Programs We were the first travel company in North America to develop and promote Pantanal programs. We were also the first to design culture tours focusing on African-Brazilian culture. And, our "Rio Like A Native", "Salvador Like A Native" and "Manaus Like A Native" programs are unequalled for the inside look they provide into the Brazilian experience. Nobody offers more interesting programs to more of Brazil than us. Support & Price We have our own office in Brazil responsible for negotiating the very best hotel and service rates possible, and then handling all our clients' needs once they arrive in Brazil. Proven Success We are the company of choice for any kind of travel needs to Brazil: Leisure Travel: Guide books and articles in travel publications consistently rank Brazil Nuts as the experts.: Guide books and articles in travel publications consistently rank Brazil Nuts as the experts. Corporate Meetings & Incentives: We handle more corporate events in Brazil than any other US travel company. From seminars for top management in Sao Paulo to an incentive program for 250 salespeople in the Amazon, we do it right.: We handle more corporate events in Brazil than any other US travel company. From seminars for top management in Sao Paulo to an incentive program for 250 salespeople in the Amazon, we do it right. Congresses & Trade Shows: Brazil Nuts has been a part of many major congresses or events in Brazil over the last three years, responsible for arranging rooms blocks, social events and PCO functions for thousands of demanding clients from around the world.: Brazil Nuts has been a part of many major congresses or events in Brazil over the last three years, responsible for arranging rooms blocks, social events and PCO functions for thousands of demanding clients from around the world. Products We pride ourselves in providing the most authentic and innovated programs to our clients. Although we specialize in travel to every corner of Brazil, our most popular destinations are: Rio De Janeiro Salvador da Bahia Amazon Iguassu Falls Pantanal Fortaleza
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