You most certainly heard of, or even tasted, churrasco (barbecue) and feijoada, a complex meal that includes a stew of black beans with pork and several side dishes, including rice, collard greens, peeled orange, cassava flour, red pepper sauce and our national distilled beverage, cachaça.
Now, can you tell me what a buchada de bode is? Or pato no tucupi?
Here I list 10 classics, not necessarily easy to digest, but amazing windows to Brazilian culture. The links lead to recipes, whenever possible in English:
1. Cuscuz – Despite having the same origin as the Moroccan couscous, it looks and tastes way different. In São Paulo, where I come from, it is made with corn flour, olives, tomatoes, eggs, peas, sardines and has the look of a decorated cake. http://www.maria-brazil.org/cuscuz.htm
2. Barreado – Typical of the coast of the southern state of Paraná, it probably originates from the Portuguese Azores islands. This meat stew served with rice is prepared in a very peculiar way. It is cooked in a clay pot for around 20 hours – the time needed for the meat fibers to be dissolved in a thick sauce. The pot is layered with banana leaves and its outside is covered with hardened manioc flour paste, in order to avoid the heat to escape. http://www.torque.com.br/barreado/receita.htm
3. Tacacá – This numbing yellowish cassava soup includes goma (a cassava based transparent gluey substance) , dried shrimps and jambu, a plant that causes a weird anesthesia effect on the mouth. Very hot, it is served in a cuia, a bowl made of a local fruit. Omnipresent in Manaus, it is typical of most of the Amazon region. http://www.culinaria-receitas.com.br/crustaceos/tacaca-tipica-do-para.html
4. Pato no Tucupi – This duck dish is made with tucupi, a broth of scalded cassava and the same jambu used in tacacá, which means it also has a weird numbing effect. It is typical of Belém, by the Atlantic coast of the Amazon region. http://www.nibbledish.com/people/thunderboy/recipes/pato-no-tucupi–duck-in-the-tucupi-sauce
5. Buchada – This one is not for the faint of heart. Made with the billy goat’s internal organs, that are cooked and used to stuff the animal’s stomach. It is typical of the Northeast region. http://flavorsofbrazil.blogspot.com/2009/10/nitty-gritty-on-buchada.html
6. Moqueca capixaba – A hearty fish stew with tomatoes, onions, pepper and bell peppers. It has a side dish of fish puree. Typical of the state of Espírito Santo, in the Southeast region. http://www.thenibble.com/REVIEWS/main/fish/seafood/brazilian-fish-stew-recipe.asp
7. Acarajé – You cannot visit Bahia and miss the acarajé. Originally from Nigeria, this cake made of peeled black-eyed peas is deep fried in palm oil (dendê). It is split in half and stuffed with shrimp, cashews and different pastes, namely vatapá. http://www.cookbrazil.com/acaraje.htm
8. Tutu à mineira – This is one example of the very traditional cuisine of the state of Minas Gerais. It is a cooked black bean puree mixed with cassava flour. It is served with boiled eggs, sausages, rice and collard greens. http://www.bigoven.com/20995-Tutu-a-Mineira-(-Bean-Puree)-recipe.html
9. Canjica – This porridge made of white corn, milk, cinnamon and sugar is particularly popular in June, during the big festivals for Saint Peter, Saint John and Saint Anthony (festas juninas). http://domfuas.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/a-taste-of-brazil-canjica-or-mungunza/
10. Brigadeiro – This huge hit is always welcome in children birthday parties. It is a type of chocolate truffle covered with chocolate sparkles, named after Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes, an air force brigadier that was a candidate in two presidential campaigns in the late forties. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/brigadeiro/Detail.aspx
Good luck in case you try these recipes at home!
I found a few books on Brazilian cooking published in English , in case you feel adventurous. These two seem above average:
If you try any of these recipes, please, tell me how it worked out. And bom apetite!
Brazilian born, French citizen, married to an American, Regina Scharf is the ultimate globetrotter. She graduated in Biology and Journalism from USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and has worked for Folha de S. Paulo, Gazeta Mercantil and Veja magazine as well as Radio France Internationale. Since 2004 she has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the US. She authored or co-authored several books in Portuguese on environmental issues and was honored by the 2002 Reuters-IUCN Press award for Latin America and by the 2004 Prêmio Ethos. You can read more by her at Deep Brazil – www.deepbrazil.com.