To Me Comfort Food Is Brazilian Food

    Brazilian moqueca

    Brazilian moqueca Comfort food to many means meat and potatoes or something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy (goulash is another example). However, to me that feeling comes from eating Brazilian food.

    But when I mention the country, I don’t mean the meat-rich dishes made famous here in the United States via the many churrascarias that have spread around the country (I even ran into one in Cleveland  a couple of years back), but the lesser-known ones from the northeastern part of the country.

    Similarly to the rest of the Americas, Brazilian cuisine is highly influenced by the different immigrants who made the country their home throughout its history, such as Italians, Lebanese, Poles, Portuguese and Japanese.

    Many dishes brought from those countries have been reinvented and adapted and are now identified as genuinely Brazilian, even if visitors recognize their origins when tasting them during their visits to the country.

    When Renata and I were in Rio in 2009, they served jam-filled pancakes that she immediately identified as Polish nalesniki, but I am quite sure if we’d asked the cook he or she wouldn’t know that. 

    Germans brought their sausages and pork Kassel, the Italians their pasta and the Portuguese their love of seafood – which all came into the melting pot and became something new.

    No continent, however, has influenced Brazil’s culinary as the West Africans brought to the country as slaves in the mid-16th Century.  Many of these enslaved Africans worked in their masters’ kitchens and gradually changed their Portuguese dishes using materials found in the land.

    Africans also introduced palm oil, (an unfiltered version also found in many Jamaican dishes) coconut milk and rice while learning to use indigenous plants like cassava and cacao.

    Today, Brazil is the country with the largest amount of Afro-descendants in the world, and their presence in the country’s foods can mostly be felt in the city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia, which some visitors compare to New Orleans. 

    The state’s signature dish is moqueca (pronounced mo-KE-ka), a moderately spicy tasteful stew that brings together many flavors alongside the indispensable dendê (pronounced den-DEH – the African word for palm oil).

    In Ceará we have the baião de dois, which is basically rice and beans cooked together. It is not that different from the Jamaican rice and peas or the Dominicans’ arroz con frijoles, but it retains its own personality by using local ingredients easily found in the region.

    Recipe for Moqueca

    Ingredients

    2 lb. fish fillets (tilapia or other firm fish)
    2 large tomatoes, chopped and seeded (canned diced tomatoes are OK)
    2-3 tablespoons palm oil
    1 can coconut milk
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 large onion, sliced
    1 green bell pepper, sliced and seeded
    2 malagueta peppers, chopped (red pepper flakes can substitute. Fresh Jamaican peppers also work)
    Salt and black pepper to taste
    2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

    Directions:

    Over medium heat, Melt the palm oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic and onions and sauté until tender. Add the bell and malagueta peppers and sauté for about one minute. Add the coconut milk and the tomatoes and let it simmer for about five minutes.

    Add the fish and continue simmering until cooked through.  Serve immediately over white rice.  This dish can be paired with un-oaked chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.

    Watch a video of the preparation

    Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at ebarteldes@yahoo.com.

    Tags:

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    Saint Barack of Assisi from Irony Shmirony site

    Obama’s Psychological Blackmail Has Been Done Before in Brazil, with Success

    Besides listening to the national anthem with his hands over his genitals instead of ...

    Gift of Health

    This Holiday Season, Get a Flu Shot and Give the Gift of Health to Your Family

    Advertorial When you get a flu shot this holiday season, you’re not only decreasing ...

    With IAEA Blessings, Brazil Starts Uranium Enrichment

    In the second half of December, the testing phase should begin for the enrichment ...

    Thomas Shannon

    New US Ambassador Takes Post in Brazil and Starts Preparing Obama’s Visit

    After seven months waiting for the US Senate to confirm his appointment due to ...

    Chavez Accuses US of Barring Him from Buying Brazilian Planes

    President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that Venezuela would consider buying Russian-built MiG warplanes if ...

    Brazil’s Gol Goes International. First Flight: Buenos Aires

    Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A., December 1st, started selling tickets to its first ...

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

    Lula Tours 5 Latin American Countries on an Ethanol Boosting Mission

    Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, began a six-day, five-nation tour Sunday, August ...

    Venezuelan President Chavez in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

    Chavez Withdraws Ultimatum to Brazil While Waiting to Get into Mercosur

    Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, warned on Wednesday that if Venezuela's entry into Mercosur is ...

    Amnesty Probes Charges of Violence Against Women in Brazil

    Tim Cahill and Patrick Wilcken, who represent Amnesty International, are participating today, June 12, ...