Why Brazilian Food is Perfect for an Olympic-Sized Appetite

The Olympics have a long standing tradition of bringing the world together and 2016 will be no different. Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the Olympic Games this summer and this location has much more to offer than just sporting events…it has delicious food as well.

Brazilian cuisine has a combination of ethnicities whose stories make up Brazil’s rich history. This cooking style carries influence from native Indians and Portuguese conquerors to African slaves who worked on sugar cane farms and other immigrant populations.

This unique blend lets Brazilian food stand on its own even though it is a melting pot of other cultures. A dish may be similar to another country’s but with the addition of spices, marinades, and toppings it would taste completely new. The same variety can be found in the different regions of Brazil, making the cuisine vibrant and ever-changing no matter what part of the country you are visiting.

Regional Flavors

The different regions of Brazil reflect not only the diverse populations but the varying foods as well. There many food traditions that fall under Brazilian cuisine but each region provides their own twist. Rice, black beans, and manioc (similar to a potato) are some of the most common ingredients in Brazilian food because of their filling qualities. It’s the differing ways these are prepared that make each dish truly original.

The livestock industry is thriving and dominant in many regions. Because of this, beef is also one of the most often-used ingredients. The beef is traditionally marinated in lime or lemon juiced mixed with garlic and salt. Churrascerias, the famed-barbecue steakhouses, combine all kinds of meats together on skewers cooked over a charcoal grill.

In coastal regions, Brazilian cuisine uses fish or seafood bases to take advantage of the resources that are available. These seafood dishes use spices, peppers, and onions to provide an individualistic twist.

Locations closer to the Amazon rainforest use exotic ingredients that are native to the area. Unique types of fruits, nuts, and meats give each dish a distinctive flavor and taste. Often these combinations cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Inspired by Italian immigrants, pizza is a popular choice in many regions, but the serving style is much different. This is something Brazilians call “rodizio style”, where waiters carry platters of different pizza for customers to try.

Brazil has a melting-pot like culture and similarly so is their cuisine. This type of rich history allows a large variety of food develop, even within one country.

Tastes of Rio

Whether you make these recipes in your restaurant’s kitchen or at home for your family, these dishes will bring the vibrant taste of Brazilian cuisine right to your plate.

Pao de Queijo
Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com

A common breakfast or snack food in Brazil is pao de queijo, a cheese bread. These tasty delicacies have lots of flavor and, when done right, is a crispy treat. Pao de queijo’s dough is made with a cassava starch, which gives it its own texture. This kind of starch gives the dough small air pockets when baking and avoids the need to have a leavening time. Native Indians to Brazil first made this dish and then Jesuit missionaries and settlers added the actual cheese component by having livestock. This dish is great for a filling snack on the go.The national dish of Brazil is feijoada, which is a thick stew of black beans and a mix of pork and beef products to create a very filling and sturdy meal. A rich and warm stew, this dish is also one that Rio is famous for. It’s so popular in Brazil that Saturday is known as the day of feijoada. Feijoada is not small matter to undertake so when it is prepared it’s often in large quantities. History differs on the group of people that originated this classic dish, with some historians say African cooks on sugar cane plantation and others argue for the Portuguese settlers. Whichever group, they made a lasting imprint on Brazilian cuisine.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and foodnetwork.com

Brazil is a country steeped in rich cultural history, including the blending of food traditions. Each group and ethnicity that has inhabited Brazil in the past has left their lasting mark on the future by combining customs. Food is something, like the Olympics, that brings people together, no matter the differences that they have.


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