So, if you know me, you probably now this already but… I LOVE FOOD. I spend most of my waking hours thinking about what my next meal or snack will be. It’s really less of process to feed my hunger and more of a greedy hobby to be honest – eating is my favourite activity!
Recently I’ve been writing a list of the things I will miss from Floripa when I go home. And though I’ve seen beautiful places and met wonderful people, the majority of my list is made up of food! There’s just so many delicious things here to miss!
And, as I definitely don’t have a problem writing enthusiastically about my one of my biggest passions, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate an entire blog post to my foodie favourites from Brazil.
Thursday night is tapioca night in this area, the majority of the international student community can be found on the plastic chairs outside Mari’s little tapioca stand in the Centrinho of Lagoa da Conceição.
In England, even just the word ‘tapioca’ can make someone shudder, bringing back memories of sloppy, school-canteen tapioca pudding. In Brazil however, it’s surprisingly good! Instead of making it into a pudding, Brazilians traditionally use tapioca flour to make a type of crepe.
Some are buttered and filled with salgados (savoury toppings like cheese, bacon, ham, or other meats). Others are filled with doces (sweet toppings like coconut, chocolate, and fruits.) My personal, surprisingly tasty, favourite was a tapioca filled with mozzarella cheese and guava jam; it sounds crazy, but it was scrumptious!
Like the Brazilian version of mulled wine (a concoction of sweet red wine, traditional Brazilian sugarcane liquor (cachaça), ginger, cloves and cinnamon, all heated to perfection) this drink is liquid comfort and cosiness.
Once it became too expensive to buy so many cups from the little street stands, we made the mistake of trying out making homemade quentão… It worked out so deliciously that now we drink litres of the stuff!
Arroz e Feijão:
Rice and beaanss! Who would’ve thought that I would ever get so excited about this, seemingly mundane, staple of the Brazilian diet.
But after eating so many times at the beloved UFSC canteen (it really is beloved, the students here even made a song about the whole eating experience) I now look forward to the occasional portion of integral boiled rice and tasty black beans. It’s a strangely comforting accompaniment option, especially if topped with delicious batata palha, or ‘crispy little potato chip-stick bits.’ (My translation)
Caldo de Cana:
Another drink that I simply couldn’t miss out, this is a ridiculously refreshing mix of freshly pressed sugarcane juice, ice, and lime. I gleefully gulp down a great big cup of caldo de cana once a week at the Wednesday market on our university campus after a long morning of classes, and I will dearly miss those moments of pure refreshment and happiness.
Pé de Moleque:
That’s peanut brittle to me or you, and it is surprisingly popular here. I blame my boyfriend for starting me off on this bad habit. When he was here he bought a packet of little pé de moleque bars almost every single day. There is something about those crunchy, caramelised peanuts that makes you want more every time.
It seems that people like to eat a lot of peanuts here, as another popular snack is paçoca (or little paçoquitas), which is a soft Brazilian candy made from sugar and ground peanuts. It comes in a satisfying block of nutty goodness, and is basically an excuse to eat a big chunk of crumbly peanut butter with no shame – perfection.
I know I’ve mentioned them before and how much I adore these delectable pastry parcels, but I couldn’t miss out a few lines dedicated to my fave lunchtime snack. An empanada de frango e requeijão just hits the spot like nothing else really can.
Move over maté! Although technically chimarrão is just the Brazilian word for the Uruguyan/Argentinian mate, (remember that bitter drink I tried but kind of liked last semester?) a Brazilian friend here showed me a particularly special recipe…
She showed me how to make sweet chimarrão, with lemon grass tea, sugar, pineapple, and cinnamon, as well as the mate herbs. We drank this warm, delightful creation whilst sitting on her little balcony and watching the rain fall onto the mountain; cosy to say the least. Discovering this heavenly drink means that I’ve finally found a use for that big bag of mate herbs that I brought home last semester and have never used! I will definitely be recreating the recipe at home.
Açaí na Tigela:
My favourite Brazilian food! Made from frozen, antioxidant-rich berries, açaí tastes like the love child of a chocolate ice cream and a fruity smoothie.
You can buy one ‘completa’ (topped with banana, condensed milk, and granola) on almost beach you visit. Or for an even more exciting treat, you can go to an açaí bar and pick any toppings you fancy. (Mango, pineapple, strawberry, kiwi, chocolates, nuts, berries, syrup, you name it!) And although every combination I’ve ever tasted has been delightful, my all-time favourite creation is açaí topped with mango, strawberry, honey and crumbled paçoca. It’s the perfect snack because it’s not unhealthy enough for me to feel guilty about indulging my one-açaí-a-day habit.
Writing this late night has reminded me that I still have a little pot of banana-blended açaí waiting for me downstairs in the freezer, and on that note, I end.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my wonderful culinary experience, now it’s time for some delicious frozen fruity goodness.
(Photo Credits- Tapioca: comidareceitas.combr & carolmagalhaes.com, Quentao: vinho e tempero.com.br, Arroz/Feijao: cotidiano.sites.ufsc.br, Caldo de Cana: buddhaspa.com.br & ducampeche.com.br, Pé de Moleque: guimaraes.ind.br, Pacoca: conexsoulnaestrada.blogspot.com & carolinaaugusta.com.br, Empanadas: garimpodafip.com.br, Acai: rajafrutas.com.br & Flor do acai)