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Food from Brazil

It's hard to generalize about Brazilian food, largely because there is no single national cuisine but numerous very distinct regional ones.

Nature dealt Brazil a full hand for these varying cuisines: there's an abundant variety of fruit, vegetables and spices, as you can see for yourself walking through any food market.

There are four main regional cuisines: Comida mineira from Minas Gerais, based on pork, vegetables (especially couve, a relative of spinach) and tutu, a kind of refried bean cooked with manioc flour and used as a thick sauce.

Comida baiana from the Salvador coast, the most exotic to gringo palates, using superb fresh fish and shellfish, hot peppers, palm oil, coconut milk and fresh coriander.

Comida do sertão from the interior of the Northeast, which relies on rehydrated dried or salted meat and the fruit, beans and tubers of the region.

Comida gaúcha from Rio Grande do Sul, the most carnivorous diet in the world, revolving around every imaginable kind of meat grilled over charcoal. Comida do sertão is rarely served outside its homeland, but you'll find restaurants serving the others throughout Brazil, although - naturally - they're at their best in their region of origin.

Alongside the regional restaurants, there is a standard fare available everywhere that can soon get dull unless you cast around: steak ( bife ) or chicken ( frango ), served with arroz e feijão, rice and beans, and often with salad, fries and farinha, dried manioc (cassava) flour that you sprinkle over everything. Farofa is toasted farinha, and usually comes with onions and bits of bacon mixed in. In cheaper restaurants all this would come on a single large plate: look for the words prato feito, prato comercial or refeição completa if you want to fill up without spending too much.

Feijoada is the closest Brazil comes to a national dish: a stew of pork, sausage and smoked meat cooked with black beans and garlic, garnished with slices of orange. Eating it is a national ritual at weekends, when restaurants serve feijoada all day.

Some of the fruit is familiar - manga, mango, maracujá, passion fruit, limão, lime - but most of it has only Brazilian names: jaboticaba, fruta do conde, sapoti and jaca. The most exotic fruits are Amazonian: try bacuri, açaí and the extraordinary cupuaçu, the most delicious of all. These all serve as the basis for juices and ice cream, sorvete, which can be excellent; keep an eye out for sorvetarias, ice cream parlous.

Source: TravelNow Destination Guides

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