The food of Brazil is certainly something else. Start with a heavy serve of Portuguese influence, add some indigenous heritage, sprinkle with flourishing local produce and finally season with unique ingredients. And voila! A delicious range of meals, snacks and bebidas (drinks).
I’ll walk you through the culinary necessities – the things you have to try while you’re in Brazil. The best part about their food culture is that most things will only cost you a few Reals, especially if you consume them at a local street corner or vendor. Affluent suburbs like Ipanema and Leblon will attract inflated prices, but often are still reasonable.
Of course. The nectar of the Gods, the tonic of the tired and the lifeblood of Brazilians. Brazil owes a lot of its history and success to this bean, being one of its strongest assets during its growth and industrialisation. But enough about that! Coffee in Brazil is served black, with the option of caster sugar or sweetener. Dissimilar to Western countries, the coffee grind is brewed in a large vat of boiling water and then dispensed into a small glass cup. Milk or leite/leche is optional. A standard cup of coffee in Brazil will regularly cost you R$1-2 or forty to eighty Australian cents. Cafes or lanchonetes will give you a great place to people watch and breathe in the ambience of Brazil. Take some time to enjoy the fragrance and let it cool before enjoying this staple Brazilian beverage.
Coxinha (pronounced ko-shee-neya) is the perfect snack food in Brazil. A coxinha consists of shredded chicken mixed with spices, surrounded by potato and covered in breadcrumbs. Throughout Brazil there are a lot of pastries and similar products to this, drawing from its rich European influence. The typical price will be around three Reals but will vary depending on location and the type of eatery. Often you will be asked if you’d like to eat in or take away – it’s a great on the go meal!
One of my absolute favourite things I had in Brazil was acai (pronounced a-sah-ee). This delicious snack/drink/meal has heavy influence from an indigenous people of Brazil, the Amazonians. The Acai berry is found in the Amazon rainforest and for a long time considered as a ‘superfood’ due to its dense nutritional content. Adding to this is the energizing guarana berry (a now popular ingredient in many energy drinks), which is also native to the Amazon. Acai is made by blending the acai berry, along with typically a banana, some juice and guarana syrup. Served by itself or sprinkled with granola, it is the perfect pick me up, tasty indulgence or relaxing snack by the hot beaches of Rio. You will pay anywhere between four Reals to fifteen depending on your location and how much you order! Make sure to try different places out to find the best Acai in town.
The infamous cocktail of Brazil and the fuel of the nightlife. Caipirinha’s are made from cachacha, a type of rum distilled from sugarcane, freshly squeezed lime and caster sugar. The simplicity makes the drink – the harsh rum is tranquilised with the sweetness of sugar and zest of lime. You can get a Caipi almost anywhere through Brazil, usually around ten to fifteen Reals. I had a particularly amazing variation in Londrina – a basil and muddled grape Caipirinha... speechless.
After a few days of acai, pastries and coffee I was craving some real food. I need heartiness and sustenance. I stumbled upon a place in Ipanema where my little Portuguese reptoire noticed the word ‘frango’, meaning chicken. Sold.
Upon ordering, I noticed it wasn’t just chicken but a huge meal consisting of beans, rice, pasta, salad and what is affectionately known as sawdust (what I would later learn is grinded cassava that gives the appearance of so). I waited behind the line of locals eating there and workers picking up their orders for takeaway. This was my first time eating feijoada – a black bean soup doused by a bed of rice and then topped with sawdust and chicken or beef. All of this with a drink for less than seven Australian dollars. One of the most delicious foods I tasted in Brazil and so filing. I returned later on for the five Real draught beer and local atmosphere.
Brazilian food is cheap, tasty and diverse. Make sure you make the most of it and try different things while you’re there!
- Try your coffee black first and appreciate the strength of the Brazilian bean
- Eat feijoada and coxinha in a cafe/lanchonete – a real local experience
- Keep your coins on you! Some vendors get frustrated at large notes for small items
- Drink a Caipirinha on Copacobana – it’s only about $4!
- Breathe in the atmosphere and ambience
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