Tasting Brazilian cuisine is the best way to learn about the culture of this vast country! Because of its enormous size, Brazilian gastronomy is very different from region to region, depending on the most easily available products and the different colonial and social influences in general.
In general, however, you cannot visit Brazil without tasting its most famous dish, the "fejioada", made with black beans, pork or beef.
In the northeastern area the "caranguejo" (crab), or siri and shrimps cooked in various combinations are also widespread. In the south of Brazil, you eat in the "churrascarias", typical restaurants where you are initially served a buffet of appetizers, followed by dishes served non-stop at the table until you indicate that you are satisfied. The dishes served are based on grilled meat, the so-called "churrasco".
In the state of Bahia, and in general throughout the north-east, Brazilians eat the Acarajé, a bean paste with onion and salt fried in the oil of a local palm, the dendé.
Very popular among desserts is the Açaí na tigela, a cream made with the fruits of the Açaí, present mainly in the north. The cream is thick and similar to a Sicilian granita, sold in all Brazilian cities.
In Brazil we can distinguish three regional cuisines, that of Bahia for the northeast, that of Minas Gerais and that gaucha to the south. Let's see them in detail.
- Bahia cuisine: The Bahian cuisine is the result of Portuguese, African and indigenous influences and is therefore very rich and varied. The Portuguese influence is seen in the techniques of preservation of meat, sweets and spices; the African tradition revives in the use of palm oil and hot pepper in the dishes. Many typical dishes of this region, including Caruru and Acarajé, were ritual dishes of the African tribe of Yoruba. In the city of Salvador it is easy to meet the "baianas", women in traditional colorful dresses that sell sweets on the "tabuleiro", a typical tray. In the interior, in the area of the Brazilian desert called "sertão", the cuisine, called "sertaneja" differs, being mainly based on beans and dried meats.
- Minas Gerais cuisine: It is said that the inhabitants of Minas Gerais, in central Brazil, have the custom of making five meals a day and three coffee breaks. The first coffee is that of breakfast, accompanied by bread. Then there is the mid-afternoon coffee, with cakes or fresh cheeses, similar to what you drink before going to bed. The main dishes of the lunch are rice, meat, vegetables, beans and sweet of guava or dulce de leche for dessert. The dinner usually includes a soup and other courses similar to those of lunch. Typical dishes include roast pork loin ("farofa") and hen in sauce with "pirão. Minas Gerais' cuisine is the one most influenced by the Portuguese tradition.
- Gaucho cuisine: The gaucho cuisine is typical of southern Brazil, influenced in part by the Argentine gauchos who immigrated to the region and the traditions of the shepherds who crossed the state of Santa Catarina in the nineteenth century. Typical dishes of rural or mountainous areas are riso a carreteiro, beans-tropeiro and dishes cooked with pinhão, a fruit of the Araucárias. The coffee with typical mixture (or café da roça), is eaten with cakes, cheeses and seasonal fruit. In the Rio Grande do Sul region, a lot of churrasco is consumed, meat cooked on skewers at 50 centimeters from the embers, and you drink chimarrão, which in Argentina is known as mate.
The most famous Brazilian drink is caipirinha, a cocktail prepared with sugar, lime and cachaça, a grappa produced from sugar cane. Other cocktails are derived from caipirinha by substituting the cachaça with other alcohols. If you replace it with vodka you have Caipiroska, which becomes Black Caipiroska if you use black vodka. There is also the Caipirão, prepared with a Portuguese liquor.
The most popular soft drink is guaranà, sparkling and very sweet, extracted from an inedible Amazonian fruit.
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