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Brazilian food is known worldwide for its delicious mixture of flavors and experimental take on different cuisines. If this intimidates you before your next trip to your local Brazilian restaurant, there’s no need to be anxious. Brazilian food, as with any food, is just a new experience made up of familiar recipes.
Be sure to keep reading to gain a little insight into the background of and some of the more popular dishes of Brazilian food, and see why you will soon want to make every night Brazilian night.
1. Brazilian Cuisine is a Mixture of a LOT of Different Cuisines
Brazil, like America, can be referred to as a melting pot of some of the best cuisine in the world. But unlike the U.S., there’s a lot more experimentation with old recipes, and therefore a smorgasbord of exhilarating flavors to experience.
Brazilian cuisine is a collection of European (especially Italian), Amerindian, African, Arab, and Asian (mostly Japanese) influences, and every dish varies by each region of Brazil they are created in. Seeing as Brazil is almost as large of a country as the United States (thirteen Texas’ can fit into it, geographically speaking) there’s a LOT of different regions to choose from when you’re hungry for Brazilian food.
Brazilians were more than happy to take all of the recipes brought in from outsiders and make them their own, with ingredients that were grown in their own backyard. When potatoes were not available, they used sweet manioc and when creating dishes that needed starchy carbs, they simply just used Yucca.
They also are not afraid to add fruity sauces and cream cheeses to just about anything.
2. The Authenticity is Worth Paying for
When you go to your local Brazilian restaurant, you will be getting pretty darn authentic food. Most owners or cooks are actually from the country, so the taste you get is real and really good.
Especially when compared to the Americanized versions of other cuisines like Italian or Mexican food, you won’t have the Americanized knock-off version of the food. By that, we mean there’s no national Taco Bell version of a Brazilian steakhouse.
Although Brazilian steakhouses are buffet or buffet-style, they still maintain the quality and value of being a finer dining establishment. This is often reflected in the higher pricing of meals there.
Steakhouses especially are known to be pricier than some of the average chain-restaurants. This is because of the great quality of meat you get when you order and the overall atmosphere.
3. Churrascaria is as Delicious as it Sounds
If you’ve ever seen cooked meat spinning on skewers in a fire and your mouth started to water, Brazilian restaurants are the place for you. Cooking means Churrasco style, which translates to mean barbecue in Portuguese, is an extremely popular form of cooking in Brazilian cuisine.
Think of Churrascaria as a form of rotisserie created by the gauchos of South American. Known as skilled horsemen and a symbol of Argentina, Uruguay, and the Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil, Gauchos were extremely renowned in legends and folklore for their bravery and unruly nature.
Some think of them as the outlaws of the Old West, like Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid. Mostly, though, they were simply just sheepherders who, because of their need to cook food with whatever they had around them, used natural wood, charcoal, or rock salt to cook meat over open flame pits.
Eventually, this style moved to larger cities, where chefs because using beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, duck, ham (with pineapple), sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat. They even created picanha, which is a dish made of the common cut of beef top sirloin cap.
4. Pizza with Banana and Cinnamon is a Popular Dish
Pizza, pizza, pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza?
Brazilians love it. In fact, they’ve found a way to make even more styles of pizza than with the simple meat toppings. While pineapple on pizza may be a controversial topic in the U.S., Brazilian cuisine boasts of their ability to put pretty much anything on some dough and call it a pizza.
The concept of pizza arrived in Brazil due to the large Italian immigration that occurred at the turn of the 20th century. So many Italian immigrated, in fact, that as of today about 15% of the Brazilian population is Italian.
This led to a large amount of creation and consumption of pizza. Today there is even a national Pizza day in Brazil, on the 10th of December.
A fantastic example of this is the combination of classic pizza sauce, ham, onions, olives, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs, which is referred to simply as Brazilian pizza. Other popular pizza toppings in Brazil include a cream cheese called Requeijão, guava cheese and marmalade, broccoli, zucchini, leaks, and even peas!
In some regions of Brazil people even enjoy eating their pizza with ketchup, mustard, and even mayonnaise.
Other mixtures of the traditional Banana and Cinnamon pizza. This is especially popular as a dessert pizza, which Brazilian cuisine has a lot of. They also can boast of perfecting the Strawberry and Chocolate pizza, which includes sweetened condensed milk, and the Romeu e Julieta, which is made of guava marmalade and white cheese
When Americans aren’t too keen to add new flavors to their pizza, it’s Brazilian cuisine that is fearless in experimentation. So the next time you’re at your local Brazilian restaurant be fearless and take a chance and try out some new flavors. You might find a flavor combination that you’ll want to make at home all the time.
5. Brazil is the Homeplace of the Super Food Acai
Acai has taken over as the super food of the last decade.
With small portions consisting of large amounts of protein, healthy fats, and lots of vitamin C and A, Calcium, and TEN TIMES the amount of antioxidants found in red grapes, it seems everyone wants to add just a little Acai to their breakfast or after-dinner treat.
It first gained notoriety when Carlos Gracie, a Brazilian jujitsu practitioner began including it in his diet, which he then recommended to fighters to boost their energy. Back then it was used in Açaí na tigela, which is a Brazilian dessert that means “Acai in the Bowl, but since then it’s been put into a lot of different dishes.
It is commonly topped with bananas, granola, or other fruits that give it a little bit of sweetness, and in the North of Brazil, it is often eaten with tapioca pearls, shrimp, fried fish, or farofa, which is a salty dish. Mostly, though, it’s simply thrown into a smoothie. So the next time you’re in the mood for something a little more nutritionally filling at your local Brazilian restaurant, pick out something with Acai as the main ingredient.
6. The Seasoning of Meat is Ordinary, but the Taste is Not
If you know anything about Brazilian foods, you probably know that there meat is supreme. Many Brazilian restaurants, in fact, are steakhouses and focus on meat.
What you might not know is that these meats are seasoned mostly with salt. The majority of the flavor from traditional Brazilian meat comes from the high quality cuts of meat, the high fat content and the beautiful sear that comes from cooking the meat at high temperature. Some steakhouses will cook the meat at 800 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter.
So, they don’t need a ton of seasoning or sauces to make the meat taste phenomenal.
There are lots of good meat options to choose from. We actually have an article about the available meats, that you can read right here.
7. Be Sure to Order the Cachaça as an After Hours Treat
Cachaça is a distilled spirit made of sugarcane juice that is also referred to as aguardiente, pinga de tuto, or caninha. It was created in the 1500s when sugar first was transported to Brazil from Madeira, and today almost 400 million gallons is drunk every year.
Made of cachaça, half a lime, and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar, this sweet drink has two varieties; unaged (white) and aged (gold). The unaged can be mixed into cocktails while the aged is meant to be drunk straight. This drink is known worldwide for being the national cocktail of Brazil and MUST if you’re into the bar scene.
So if you’re looking for the perfect Brazilian cocktail to end your night off with, be sure to go to a Brazilian restaurant that serves them and order a round for the table.
8. Brigadeiro Truffles are the Perfect End to Your Brazilian Meal.
Brigadeiros are balls of truffles that are made with condensed milk and afterward covered in sprinkles. While usually make of milk chocolate, there are also white chocolate versions and even ones with an entire strawberry in the middle.
They are akin to Valentine’s day chocolates in Brazil and are especially popular with children who have a sweet tooth. Named after the political figure Brigadier Eduardo Gomes from the 1940s, these delicious and creamy treats have been a popular delicacy since World War II.
The next time you visit your local Brazilian restaurant be sure to order a round for the table (or maybe two.)