You can learn a lot about Brazil's culture and the people by visiting an authentic Brazilian restaurant when you are in the country.
It is not only about the food they serve, but the atmosphere.
Is it loud or quiet in the restaurant? Do people talk while they eat? Do they hurry through their meal or linger over their food? For many cultures, eating is about more than just food; it is a way of socializing and relaxing.
It can be helpful to know what foods to expect when you eat in a Brazilian restaurant. Brazil is a large, culturally diverse country and food varies by region. The Portuguese influence is seen in the sugar and citrus fruits used in desserts.
The Brazilians also developed their love of sweets from the Europeans. They use eggs and spices such as cinnamon for their desserts. However, they also use non-sweet ingredients such as parsley and garlic.
The Indians who lived in Brazil even before the Portuguese had their own influence on Brazilian food that is still seen today. They used manioc, which is a root vegetable like a potato. Brazilians use it to make farofa.
Farofa is ground up manioc and is used in place of flour in breads, cookies, cakes, and other recipes. It can also be toasted and sprinkled over rice and meat, as well as other foods.
The main staples of the Brazilian diet are manioc, rice, and beans. The national dish is Feijoada, which is a meat stew made with bacon, sausage, beef, tomatoes, and black beans. You will find this in many restaurants in Brazil.
One of the benefits of eating Brazilian food is that it does not rely heavily on wheat, and so is good for people on a gluten free diet, or those who are eating an anti-inflammatory diet for health reasons. That is just one of the reasons I love Brazilian food!
In large cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, you will find many restaurants with different cuisine. Like any other country, the larger cities will give you a variety of ethnic tastes, like Italian, Portuguese, Caribbean, and other flavors. They have everything from street vendors to expensive dining.
One thing to beware of is the rating system in Brazil. The only rating system is done by Quatro Rodas Guide and is not the most reliable. There is no nationally known rating system and the main food festival in Brazil does not give ratings.
Along the Bahia coast, there are restaurants that reflect the region's cuisine. The foods feature manioc, corn, tropical fruits, and herbs. The signature dish is Comida Baiana, made with shrimp, fish, chicken and other flavors.
The Amazon has its own cuisine influenced by the local people. They mainly live on manioc, fresh fish, yams, beans, and fruit.
Travelers will find a variety of places to eat, depending on where they visit. You can choose from fast food stops, street vendors, coffee shops, and restaurants that charge by the pound. While you can research online for restaurant reviews, the best way to find a good local restaurant is to ask the people who live there.
The Northeast part of Brazil has food that is reflective of the culture in that area. They used to dry the meat that they raised to make it last longer and today they still make carne de sol "meat of the sun" and eat a large amount. You will also see African and Indian influences in the food.
The Amazon region in the north part of Brazil is populated by Indians who influence the food of the area. You will see dishes made with fish, root vegetables and tropical fruits. One well-known dish is the Caruru do Para, made with shrimp, okra, onion, and tomato.
I traveled in this region for several months and where I was there were very few fresh vegetables. Our main foods were rice, beans, and manioc root, with a little white spaghetti from the local stores.
There were some local greens that were cultivated but they were so rare that I never learned their name or location, and so these were a special treat.
Dishes in the Southeastern area are made with corn, pork, beans, chicken and cheeses. You will find Italian and German influences in the food. You will often see rice and bean dishes served in restaurants. In Rio, you will get black beans, but in Sao Paulo, you will enjoy red or blond beans.
Churrasco was originally created in Southern Brazil. It is similar to barbeque as it is meat cooked over an open fire. Today, most people do not cook their own charrasco, but go to restaurants that specialize in the meal.
Immigrants from Germany came to Southern Brazil and ate diets of wheat and vegetables, which has been incorporated into the traditional dishes.
Central Brazil uses fresh fish caught from the local rivers in many of their meals. This supplements the beef and pork that is popular throughout the region. They also enjoy the local crops of rice, corn, and manioc.
If you are traveling outside of Brazil and looking for some traditional Brazilian cuisine, you can find a good restaurant if you know where to look.
Many chefs have learned to create traditional Brazilian dishes for an authentic taste away from home. One of the best known chains of Brazilian restaurants is the Fogo De Chao, which are located in the United States along with Brazil. Another popular choice located in Europe is Guanabara in London.
Rodizio is a restaurant in the Netherlands that follows the Gaucho way of cooking meat. The restaurant is a barbeque place that uses the Brazilian flavors and methods to create their menu.
Melborne, Australia has a Brazilian restaurant where they carve the meat at your table. The place is called BlueFire Churrascaria Grill and Bar. You will find restaurants that serve Brazilian cuisine in North America, Europe, and many other places.
If you look online, you will find restaurant reviews to give you an indication of the quality of food in a Brazilian restaurant around the world. While most places strive to create authentic dishes, they may add their own flair. Be prepared for the food to taste different than Brazilian food made in Brazil!
Finding a great Brazilian restaurant in Brazil will tell you more about the people than just what they like to eat. You will experience the tastes, smells, and sounds that are authentic to the country.