The FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup is just a few weeks away. The massive event is considered the “SuperBowl of soccer” and people around the globe will be looking to Brazil for inspiration on everything from their beach-ready fashion, lively music, and flavorful food; Brazil seems to have it all! Try one of these traditional Brazilian foods to begin your inner, international, sports fan affair.
If the now familiar empanada were to have thinner dough, more filling, and crisper crust then they would be called pastéis. Pastéis more often enjoyed as street food more then sit-down restaurant fare, due to their portability and versatility. They are filled with savory main ingredients like cheese, shrimp, or beef, then paired with velvety ingredients like potatoes, stewed tomatoes, peas, or hard-boiled eggs. They are ideal snacks, or can be made in miniature sizes for a small savory appetizer.
Feijoada, the Portuguese word for beans, is the beloved national dish of Brazil. Just as Italians may claim their family makes the best marinara, many Brazilians will brag that their heirloom family recipe makes the best feijoada. This hearty bean stew similar to the French cassoulet, originated in Portugal where it is served with white, or kidney beans and various meats. Traditional Brazilian feijoada is always made with black beans, pork trimmings, and typically two types of meat, most often sausages and beef. The stew is best slow-cooked (sometimes up to three days) in a clay pot, and usually topped with shredded kale, or cabbage, garnished with orange slices and served with steamed rice. This dish is meant to be shared with a hungry crowd, great for serving family-style or as a main dish on a buffet.
If Brazil had a power food acai would be the star. Relativity new to the North American health food scene, in the past years acai berries have made a name (pronounced ah-sah-EE) for themselves as an antioxidant powerhouse. The purple grape-sized berries grow in the Central and South American acai palm trees. Aside from their potent antioxants, acai berries have omega fats (the good kind), are high in fiber, minerals, B vitamins and potassium. Acai berries are easy to find freeze-dried, frozen, or as juice in North American food stores. Use them as you would other power fruits like, pomegranate, or blueberries—great for smoothies, topping for yogurt, or a healthy kick to summer desserts.
If cookies are America’s favorite daily sweet, then the small and rich brigadeiros are Brazil’s. It is similar to a chocolate truffle but made with condensed milk instead of cream. These cute chocolaty balls of richness are found both as daily street foods and used to for birthdays and celebrations. They are most commonly and traditionally rolled in chocolate sprinkles, but they come in many flavor variations, including with nuts, coconuts, or dried fruits. They are relatively easy to make and look alluring plated, or stacked on a cake tier. Delicioso!
A spirit similar to rum made with distilled cane sugar, Cachaça (pronounced kah-SHAH-sah) is expected to be the coming to the world stage this soccer season. The Brazilian liquor can be purchased aged, unaged, white, or gold. The most famous and internationally known cocktail made with Cachaça is the refreshing Caipirinha, but expect to see more cocktails popping up on menus that include the versatile summery cachaça.
Olé, Ole, Olé, Olé!