sexta-feira, 12 de agosto de 2016

Tastes of the World

Brazilian Food You Must Try

As you know I am from Brazil and I am currently living in Portugal. I moved five months ago, and though I usually cook what I was used to eating, there are some types of food that used to be so simple to get around and now I'm starting to miss them a lot. So, I'm here to share with you 15 types of Brazilian food that are really hard to get - if not impossible - in another country, and if you have never tried them, I strongly suggest you do!

1. Fresh coconut water: love it or hate it. I love it! There's nothing more tropical than drinking coconut water from a coconut, and the ones you find at the supermarket do not - really! - taste the same. After jogging, at the beach, on a summer evening, nothing beats cold fresh coconut water.

2. Cocada: talking about coconuts, cocada is a sweet made from coconut  and sugar and there are many variations of it: simply white, with burned coconut, with passion fruit, with condensed milk, and they can be really soft or a little harder, as if you grated the coconut meat and then glued it back together. It's sweetly yummy! Kinda hard to explain what they look like, so here's a picture:

3. Fruit salad with gooseberry syrup: ok, so far you know that I love fruits and sweets, so if you have ever tasted Brazilian fruit salad and on top of it you poured gooseberry syrup (maybe a plus of condensed milk?) you know what type of God's nectar I'm talking about. If you prepare fruit salad in Brazil you will probably use every and any fruit you can find: orange, papaya, banana, apple, pear, pineapple, cherry, kiwi, melon, watermelon, grapes, strawberry... you got the picture, right? Oh, so healthy! Here comes the gooseberry syrup! Just enough for you to have your own fruit syrup at the end.  

4. Coxinha: now this is a Brazilian favorite: coxinha. At all birthday parties you will find this finger food which is filled with well seasoned shredded chicken. It's finger licking good! Oh, sorry, this is already taken...

5. Brigadeiro: Brazilians usually say that money can't buy happiness, but it can buy brigadeiro, which is pretty much the same. This classic chewy chocolate truffle is getting new creative versions and all of them are incredibly delicious: strawberry, pistachio, coffee, passion fruit, with wine, nutella, oreo... Blame it on the condensed milk!

6. Cheese balls: in Portuguese we call it bolinha de queijo and it is as popular as the coxinha. I am not kidding, I can eat a 100 of them and not feel guilty at all. The good news is that they are easy to make, so I'll probably prepare and fry a batch of them any time soon.

7. Cheese bread: this round bread is made with manioc flour and the cheese goes in the dough mixture. It's light, healthy, rich and we are all proud of this Brazilian deli. At breakfast or as an afternoon snack, we never say no to a batch of pão de queijo hot from the oven.

8. Feijoada: eating feijoada is not just eating a dish, it's preparing yourself for an occasion! Usually, we have all the family together for, let's say, Sunday lunch, and the hot pan of black beans is the main course. The original one takes different types of sausages and pork, however, nowadays there's also a vegan version of it. Feijoada needs to have a very thick well seasoned bean sauce to be eaten with white rice, shredded kale, slices of orange and cassava flour mixture, which takes us to the next item.

9. Farofa: a well roasted cassava flour mixture with some olives, pieces of egg, little cubes of bacon, some spices, just plain or what have you, may make you forget about your main course. Gosh, how I miss farofa!

10. Tapioca: once you start eating tapioca, specially in the morning, you just won't want to go back to eating plain bread anymore. Tapioca  is a starch extracted from cassava root, used not only in Brazil, but also in Japanese cuisine, for example. It's healthy, light, nutritious, easy and delicious. You can quickly prepare it on a frying pan, with no oil, and fill it with anything salty or sweet. There are other types of tapioca, to make pudding, for example, and the type you use to prepare one, can't be used for the other. They are both good and addictive. Come on Brazil, let's start exporting some tapioca mixture for all the tapioca fans out there!

11. Honey bread: sweet honey bread, filled with dolce de leche (or caramel or brigadeiro or coconut) covered with milk chocolate. Do I need to say more?

12. Caipirinha: I think I don't need to introduce you to the worldwide known Brazilian drink caipirinha. Cachaça, the spirit used, is really expensive in European countries, so it's not a drink I can appreciate very often, but it's possible, I'll just spend four times more than I would in Brazil. So, if you're visiting Brazil, make sure you try the original one, made with lime, but also try the ones with strawberry, clementine, kiwi, lichy...just don't drink and drive!

13. Stuffed crab shells: made with sautéed crab meat, coconut milk, palm oil and bell peppers, this appetizer that we call casquinha de siri is one of my favorite appetizers to order in a restaurant. It's very tasty and it really opens up your appetite. I've never dared to make one, and now I wish I had in order to try cooking stuffed crab shells abroad.

14. Pastel: this fried pastry is commonly seen at the farmer's market in Brazil. We like it so much that we even eat pastel with nothing in it. We call pastel de vento, "wind pastel", but usually the fillings are made with cheese, ground beef, pizza, shrimp or heart of palm. You're not supposed to do this, but many times I've substituted a meal for pastel.

15. Sugar cane juice: and what's the best thing for you to drink when you order pastel at a farmer's market? Sugar cane juice! It doesn't get more Brazilian than that! It's purely sugar cane that goes into a pressing machine where you're able to get the juice from. That's it. Then, you can mix some lime juice with it and enjoy it cold. Though the color is not very appealing, if you are a sweet tooth, this is the juice for you. 

Food is something that brings memories and emotions, and when you're living abroad, just the fact that these types of food aren't at an arm's reach makes you want them even more. In case you're visiting Brazil, take notes of all my suggestions and go ahead and try them. Then, let me know which is your favorite!

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