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The best Brazilian delicacies
A delicious mix of Portuguese cuisine, South American Indian and African culinary traditions, Brazilian cuisine is rich in flavours and colours.
As it often happens, history has shaped the country’s food culture, mixing very different flavours and ingredients: the families of the conquistadores often included Portuguese husbands, South American Indian wives and servants of African origin. African cooks are appreciated in Brazil as a local proverb says “the blacker the cook, the better the food”.
The basic ingredients of the Brazilian cuisine are rice and beans. Brazilians bring these ingredients to their tables every day and they always eat main courses (called “trivial” or “prato feito”) that include other traditional foods such as grilled meat or fish with a vegetable side dish (based on pumpkin, courgette, cauliflower and okra – a slightly viscous green vegetable similar to green beans). Another local ingredient is manioc that can be cooked and is available in flour form.
Local dishes include moqueca, stewed fish in coconut milk and dendê (palm) oil; caruru, prepared with okra, other vegetables and shrimps; the well-known feijoada, the Brazilian national dish, made from black or white beans, meat, cabbage and orange.
In the streets, mostly in the Northeast region of Brazil, you can easily find acarajé, a piece of roll-shaped fermented bean purée fried in palm oil and stuffed with shrimps, peanut paste, onion and garlic.
Brazilians love to flavor their dishes with fresh coriander (cilantro), a tasty and scented herb. Another aroma they commonly use is fresh minced ginger root. Their juicy and luscious fruits are employed along with manioc to prepare sweets: the most traditional sweet is bolo, a sort of cake made of fruits, roots and flavoured with spices.
Since in Brazil it’s hot all year long, it is necessary to drink a lot. It’d be better to drink bottled mineral water (agua mineral con gas or sem gas) – avoiding that of the faucet – and limit the consumption of caipirinha: you can find this refreshing cocktail made of cachaça (a local liquor), lime juice and brown sugar everywhere (and whenever you want) and it is so good that people are often likely to abuse it.
Other local specialties you can’t do without are sucos, fresh-squeezed fruits or fruit smoothies appreciated for their therapeutic properties, because they are rich in vitamins and natural antioxidants. There are plenty of varieties based on exotic or European fruits diluted in water (make sure that the water has been filtered) or milk. The latter are called vitamina. Another unmissable type of juice is caldo de cana: it is extracted from sugarcane and, besides being flavoury, it is also cheap and available everywhere. A famous travel guide to Brazil defines it as a dynamite bursting with vitamins in their pure state.
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