Brazilian Food: A World Beyond Churrasco

Peixada cearense When folks think of Brazilian food, most probably they picture slabs of beef, chicken and sausage over sizzling coals – the ‘churrasco’ that has become famous via the many Brazilian-themed steakhouses that have spread around the world, including places like Cleveland, New Orleans and Krakow, Poland.

But the truth is that Brazilian food is not only about churrasco. Its cuisine is incredibly diverse, and it varies (like in the US) from region to region.

In the South, you find ‘churrasco’ but also many other dishes inherited and adapted from the European immigrants that came to the region and made it their new home.

In the Southeast, the melting pot is so mixed that foods that originated from countries like Syria, Lebanon, Portugal, Italy and Japan have become so incorporated to the local food culture that people in the region identify them as their own.

In the North and Northeast, African, Dutch, Portuguese and native Brazilian form a unique blend characteristic of this warm, mostly sun-drenched area.

Unfortunately, few Brazilian restaurants (at least in my area) include dishes like moqueca, baião de dois and Ceará-style fish stew on their menus  –  probably because the vast majority of immigrants from Brazil hail from the South and Southeast of the country.

Then there is feijoada, Brazil’s most traditional dish, which is made with black beans and salted (or smoked) pork parts that may include feet, tail and nose. 

As legend has it, farm owners would serve roast pork during parties and then give the less desirable parts to their slaves, who would in turn cook them in a stew with black beans.

Today, feijoada is the country’s signature dish, traditionally served on Saturdays with rice, collard greens and orange on the side. It is a time when families eat at leisure without having to worry about running back to work.

One of my personal traditional favorites is Ceará-style stewed fish (peixada cearense), a delicious combination of seafood and veggies that is served with white rice and pirão, a gravy-like sauce made with yucca flour.

Whenever I prepare this dish, I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmother’s living room and waiting  –  with anticipation  –  for dinner.

Peixada Cearense

Recipe source: Minha Cozinha, translated from the Portuguese by Ernest Barteldes

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 lb. Grouper fillets (or any other firm fish), 1 tbsp. Lime juice, 2 sliced onions, 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced, three ripe tomatoes, quartered, 4 tbsp. cilantro, chopped, 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped, 1 can coconut milk, three eggs, three large potatoes, two carrots, three thick slices cabbage, 2-3 tbsp. olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste.

Preparation:

Boil the eggs, the carrots and potatoes in salted water until vegetables are done. Peel the carrots and potatoes, quarter them and reserve. Peel the eggs, cut in half and reserve.

Wash the fish carefully and season with salt, pepper and lime and reserve. In a large pot, sauté the onions, peppers, cilantro  and tomatoes in olive oil until tender.

Place the fish fillets over the sautéed vegetables and add the coconut milk. Simmer gently (do not stir) until fish is done (about 10 minutes), and add the potatoes, carrots, eggs and cabbage and simmer for another 5-7 minutes.

Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve over white rice.

Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at ebarteldes@yahoo.com.

Tags:

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazilian Oil Multinational Petrobras Building 9 New Platforms in 4 Years

The international financial crisis and the resulting postponing of the disclosure of the Petrobras ...

Brazil Wants US Out of Discussions on Venezuelan-Colombian Dispute

Nestor Kirchner, Argentina’s former president and UNASUR’s (Union of South American Nations) will hold ...

Domestic and International Flights Get Slight Increase in Brazil

Brazil saw in April a 3.5% increase in international departures from Brazilian airports when ...

Lula or Cardoso? Who’s Brazil’s President?

In all the key policy areas—land reform, environmental protection, affirmative action, and foreign policy—Lula’s ...

Sugar and Alcohol Help Brazil Agro Exports Reach Record US$ 41 Billion

Brazilian agribusiness exports reached US$ 48.2 billion in the last 12 months, a value ...

120 Years After End of Slavery Brazilian Blacks Still Far from Getting Equality

Despite Brazil’s NIMBY attitude about racism, while trying to convince itself of being a ...

US Explains Brazil’s Record Corn Production: Second Harvests

The US Department of Agriculture says that Brazil’s increased success in second crops is ...

Brazil Hopes to Attract as Many Foreign Tourists as Argentina in 2006

The Tourism Salon – Routes of Brazil, which begins today, June 2, in São ...

A Brazilian Approach to Belly Dancing Clothing

Five years ago, ballet dancer and belly dance teacher Adriana Almeida was looking for ...

World’s Best Player Is Brazilian Ronaldinho, Again

Brazilian soccer ace Ronaldinho Gaúcho won his second straight FIFA World Player of the ...