Last week, I wrote that Brazil is waiving its visa requirement for a few months this year, making it suddenly easier to visit the country. So if you’ve ever wanted to visit Brazil, 2016 is the time to do it.
One of the greatest things about Brazil is the food, which is wonderfully more diverse than the Brazilian barbecues and “churrascarias” around the world might suggest. Really the country is a great and underrated destination for foodies or anyone looking for culinary adventure.
Here are a few of my favorite Brazilian foods, which I highly recommend trying during any visit to the country:
A traditional food of the northeast, Acarajé is a kind of sandwich with a bun made from fried beans. It’s stuffed with shrimp and can be very spicy; the first time I had Acarajé I told the Bahiana selling it to make it spicy. She looked me up and down and flatly refused, saying I couldn’t handle it. So consider yourself warned.
The X-tudo is the Brazilian take on a hamburger. It always includes the basics: meat, bun, cheese, etc. But from there things start getting crazy: ham, egg, crispy little potato wedges, various sauces, etc. There are endless variations on the X-tudo in Brazil and you can get them at any little mom-and-pop burger joint in town. They’re delicious, filling, and honestly better than hamburgers I’ve had in any other country.
Pão de queijo
This is hands down one of my favorite foods, not just from Brazil but from anywhere. Pão de queijo literally means “cheese bread,” but it’s entirely different from cheese breads in North America. In the Brazilian verison, the cheese — typically and traditionally from the state of Minas Gerais — is mixed into the dough itself. The result ends up being a golf-ball sized bun with a cheesey flavor but a consistent texture. You can buy pão de queijo from little shops all over many Brazilian cities.
Brigadeiros are gooey little chocolate balls that are typically covered in chocolate sprinkles. They’re very simple — they typically don’t have any other filling, and while there are variations on the sprinkles, I prefer the classic chocolate on chocolate. Brigadeiro is often served at parties and special events, but they are also available in many small shops that sell sweets and snacks.
Cachorro quente literally means “hot dog.” Like, if there was a pet dog at your house and it was a hot day, you could say “O cachorro está quente.” In practice, however, it means Brazil’s amazing version of a hot dog, which is often cooked in tomato sauce, then covered in a variety of toppings including crispy potato shards (what are those called in English?). Brazilian hot dogs, which are often sold as street food, are so delicious I have no idea why we aren’t cooking our hot dogs like this in the rest of the world.
If you know anything about Brazilian food besides churrasco (grilled meat), you’ve probably heard of Feijoada. It’s basically the national dish, and evolved during the slave period when slaves had to make due with whatever food they could get their hands on. I’ve had plenty of variations on Feijoada, but in its most basic form it’s a thick soupy mix of beans, sausage, pork, garlic, and other things. Traditionally, it is served on Saturdays.
— Jim Dalrymple II