It is most likely that from June 12 to July 13, Brazil will be in the limelight. And if you are one of the lucky Soccer fanatics making the pilgrimage –or you just happen to be in the country in the best possible time -, you would probably want to make your experience complete by trying out some of these typical local delights.
Brazilian cuisine is as diverse as its culture and the topography. However, it does have a national dish, feijoada brasileira, a stew prepared with black beans and salted pork or beef. It is usually accompanied with rice. Some regions add orange or vegetables cooked by vapor.
My Brazilian friends also advise not to miss out on snack treats such as coxinha (batter-coated fried chicken) or empada (pie filled with seasonal fare, often chicken and olives but these could be replaced with sea food and red meat)
Travelers with finer gastronomic taste would want to savor unique regional dishes. In Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, Churrasco (Brasilian barbecue) is typically served in Rodizio places which have “all you can eat” buffets. Just ask waiters to keep serving you slices of meat until you can take no more.
The Northeast region is renowned for its seafood options particularly the fish and crab of Praia do Futuro. Popular seafood dishes include Vatapa and Caruru, made of shrimp fried or sautéed.
Be sure to check this list for a more complete finding of Brazilian dishes to try.
Cachaça is the national alcohol of Brazil and Caninha 51 surely its best-selling brand. This sugar cane liquor is widely available in bars throughout the country and is the main ingredient of cocktails such as the Caipirinha (mixed with just the right amount of sugar and lime juice). You could learn more about the history or the making of this liquor visiting distilleries in Minas Gerais or Fortaleza which has a dedicated museum. I was also advised to try Capeta Batida (Devil’s shake), a cocktail made with cachaça, condensed milk, guarana powder and ground cinnamon.
Brazil, in 2012, was the third global beer producer behind China and USA. Like many South American countries, it has a fine selection of local beers mostly light lagers, served very chilled. The most popular brands are Antartica, Bohemia and Brahma. But the craft beer movement is also on the rise, and you are equipped with Untappd or Taphunter, you might stumble upon a rare gem in which case, don’t forget to share.
When it comes to non-alcoholic choices, a very popular option is the carbonated soft drink made from the Guarana berry. Personally, I’ll go for coconut water or juices made from mango, acai or maracuja (passion fruit).
Of course, Brazil is renowned worldwide for the quality and the strength of its coffee which is generally served after meals throughout the day. If you want to try something different, search for Chimarrao (an infusion made of local herbs) or Tererê, its chilled counterpart. These are most available in Southern states probably influenced by “Yerba Mate” from Paraguay.
Most of these were suggested to me by Latin American friends. I would love to hear back from you. What else should be added to the list? What do you recommend? Do you have a Cachaça experience to share? =)