For those traveling to Brazil, you’ll be happy to know the country is home to some of the world’s most delicious dishes and cocktails. Much of its culinary influence stems from African, European and indigenous influences, with commonly used native foods being cassava, guaraná, açaí, cumaru and tacacá. While the dishes typically eaten begin to change as you travel to the different regions of the country, here are a few delicious dishes to be on the lookout for.

For those traveling to Brazil, you’ll be happy to know the country is home to some of the world’s most delicious dishes and cocktails. Much of its culinary influence stems from African, European and indigenous influences, with commonly used native foods being cassava, guaraná, açaí, cumaru and tacacá. While the dishes typically eaten begin to change as you travel to the different regions of the country, here are a few delicious dishes to be on the lookout for.

Tapiocas

Tapioca
Photo: Francisco Antunes / Flickr

A tasty and cheap street food favorite, tapiocas are similar to crepes but have a grainier texture. Tapioca is actually a starch extracted from cassava that is used for a variety of meals. You’ll often see it made into a flat griddle-like pancake that you can top with your choice of savory and/or sweet choices. Some typical toppings include coalho cheese, ham, beef, butter, coconut, bacon, fruit, condensed milk and chocolate. Once you’ve chosen your toppings, fold the pancake and you’ve got your meal.

Coxinhas

Coxinhas
Photo: Thomas Locke Hobbs / Flickr

Meaning “little thighs,” this meal features shredded chicken as well as onion, parsley, scallions and often catupiry cheese, a creamy Brazilian cheese similar to Brie. These ingredients are melded together to look like a chicken drumstick, breaded and deep fried. The result is a heavenly finger food that’s both filling and satisfying.

Acai

Acai
Photo: eliduke / Flickr

While acai can be found all over the world, fresh acai can only be found in Brazil where it is grown (in the Amazon). Throughout the country acai cafes, natural food restaurants and fruit shops can be found everywhere selling acai in a variety of ways. There are acai juices, acai cheesecake, acai syrups and frozen acai pulp with fruit and toppings like banana, honey, nuts, guarana, syrup and strawberries. Where you go will dictate how you enjoy the delicious food staple. For example, in southeast Brazil in cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro it is popular among athletes who want to benefit from the iron, healthy fats, calcium and B vitamins found in the fruit, and is often eaten frozen as a sweet treat. However, if you head to the north where acai is cultivated (in a state called Para) it is eaten as a side dish to fish and served room temperature, similar to how westerners eat beans. This is because many of the locals in Para are farmers, and need the acai for energy, protein and iron.

Vatapa

Vatapa
Photo: Edsel L / Flickr

Enjoyed all over the country but most popular in the north — especially Bahia — vatapa combines bread, coconut milk, chilis, onion, garlic, peanuts, shrimp (or other white meat) and palm oil that is blended into a creamy paste, sauteed then boiled to create a thick and flavorful stew. In the north it is often served stuffed into acarajé, a deep-fried black eyed pea patty that is split in half and topped with the vatapa. However, in other areas of Brazil it can also be found served with rice. Interestingly, both vatapa and acaraje have African origins.

Feijoada

Feijoada
Photo: observista / Flickr

Brazil’s national dish, feijoada features beans, juicy pork and at least two types of additional smoked meat like sausage, ham or jerked beef. It is similar to a western pork and beans meal, however, Brazil’s version is more economical as it uses all parts of the pig — ears, back fat, tails, trotters, tongues and snouts. Locals typically enjoy the dish on Saturdays and sometimes Wednesdays in accordance with old traditions. Side dishes are often rice, fried yuca (aipim frito), pork rinds (torresminho), collard greens, orange slices and/or manioc fried in butter (farofa). During the summer months leading up to Carnival many samba schools offer a feijoada lunch event. Different samba schools usually hold these events once per month and allow visitors to come and watch traditional samba while enjoying the traditional dish.

Caipirinha

Caipirinha
Photo: Elenadan / Flickr

The national drink of Brazil, the cocktail is made with a local sugar cane rum called cachaça, sugar and lime. Go into any bar or restaurant throughout the country and you’ll undoubtedly find handcrafted caipirinha sometimes with a unique twist. In fact, you can often find the libation made with added fruit, nuts, coffee and other ingredients (we recommend the passionfruit caipirinha!). Just be warned, caipirinha are very strong and can knock you off your bar stool quickly.

Categories: Brazil

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