OK, the Football World Cup is set to go, but the games don’t last the entire day – you have to fill them with something else, right? There are many attractions in Brazil, but as long as you’re there, you have to try the local food! Seriously, it’s amazing! But before we start talking about the delicious treats that await you in Brazil, here’s the single most important tip when eating there: Don’t fall for the “touristic” restaurants! Seriously, go for the local spots, that’s where the real magic happens. If you want to locate a good restaurant, don’t ask locals for a good place to eat – ask them where they like to eat.
Not the fanciest of foods, the Brazilian Feijoada is really the traditional stuff. It’s a a stew of beans with beef and pork with black beans, and depending on the recipe, some tomato sauce or onions. It’s like chilli, except oh-so-much better. It’s usually served with rice and local sausages, like chouriço (delicious sausage) or morcela (blood sausage). You should be able to find this in all restaurants, though recipes vary somewhat.
The pastel is a typical fast-food Brazilian dish, consisting of thin pastry envelopes wrapped around assorted fillings, then deep fried in vegetable oil. You can find out lots and lots of variations, with meat, vegetables, or fish, and even sweets. It’s somewhat similar to an empanada, but it’s deep friend, and for some reason, it’s just a bit more tasty to me. You can also find these everywhere, and it’s the perfect snack to get by.
The Brigadeiro is a chocolate truffle covered in chocolate sprinkles. It’s not very different from other truffles, but it has a different kind of flavor and mixture, which you really should taste while in Brazil.
4. Maracuja (passion fruit) mousse
Brazil is the country of passion, so it makes sense that they are also the home of the passion fruit, right? Well, passion fruit (also called maracuja) thrives in Brazil! You can find several varieties and eat them as fruit, but where they really shine is in cakes. Mousse, cake, icecream smoothie… seriously, just go, and order everything you can find with maracuja. You won’t regret it.
5. Moqueca – Seafood stew
Sometimes sweets are just too much, and you need some real tasty food! Moqueca refers to any type of seafood stew, cooked in coconut milk, with vegetables such as tomatoes, onions or peppers. It comes in two regional variants, Moqueca baiana and Moqueca capixaba, and also in several varieties (with shrimp or fish) – as I said, just find a local restaurant, and eat it from there, to feel the full flavors.
Brazil is famous for its worldclass meat, and if you’re not a vegetarian, then you simply can’t leave Brazil without having a Churrasco! Strictly speaking, it is a term referring to beef or grilled meat, but most often, it’s just any type of meat placed on a stick and cooked over a coal barbecue. Eat it fresh and hot, with some bread and maybe a salad, and you’re in for a treat.
7. Bobó de camarão
A Brazilian dish of shrimp in a purée of manioc (a.k.a. cassava) meal, coconut milk and other ingredients – what more could you want?. Like most Brazilian dishes, it’s flavored with palm oil, and usually served with rice, though you can also eat it as a stand alone food.
Now we’re really going deep into Brazilian food! Vatapá is a Brazilian dish made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil – all mashed into a delicious creamy paste. Very popular in the northern parts of the country, you might not find it in many places in the south of the country.
9. Pão de Queijo (cheese bread)
Wait a minute, we have all these delicious foods here, why would we bother with something that’s essentially a type of bread with cheese? Seriously, just go and taste it. Just say its name: Pão de Queijo. I’m telling you, you’ll never want to eat normal bread again.
10. Sandwiches: Misto Quente, Bauru, Romeu e Julieta
You rarely hear people talking about Brazilian sandwiches, but they’re really something else! Misto Quente, depicted above, is a melted ham and cheese sandwich usually on white bread. You can eat it hot (definitely the best option) or cold – it’s good, simple, and usually, really cheap. The Bauru is a bit more sophisticated, with roast beef, mozzarella cheese, tomato, and pickled cucumber:
Romeu e Julieta (Romeo and Juliet, heh) is not your average sandwich – it doesn’t have any bread, and it’s just guava paste and white cheese stacked on top of each other. The mixture of tastes is superb.
11. Virado a paulista
OK, so sandwiches are too simple for you, and you’re feeling a little brave? Virado a paulista is the thing for you! It’s like an English Breakfast, except it’s Brazilian; and better. It has bacon, several sausages, onion, eggs, beans, tomatoes, manioc, and everything else that’s awesome and you can fit on a plate. Don’t order it unless you’re sure you can finish it!
I could only finish this list with something sweet. Quindim is a popular Brazilian baked dessert, made from sugar, egg yolks, and ground coconut – with potentially some small things added. It is a custard and usually presented as an upturned cup with a glistening surface and intensely yellow color. There are also several rather similar cakes you might taste, but be advised: they go straight to your hips.