By Briana Seftel
Rio de Janeiro? Check. Iguassu Falls? Got that one. But wait - what about the food? You're in luck, because South America's largest country has some incredible food. Check out eight must-try foods in Brazil and a couple of can't-miss drinks, too!
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Pão de queijo
It’s impossible to eat just one of Brazil’s favorite snack. These pillowy light balls of heaven are made with cassava flour and a mild cheese from the state of Minas Gerais. Crispy on the outside and almost hollow on the inside, they are very similar to French gougeres.
Before acai became the go-to superfood in the United States, it was traditionally eaten by indigenous tribes for energy. Travelers to Brazil will find the tart Amazonian berry in dishes and drinks all over the country, from acai bowls to, yes, even acai beer.
Brazilians love their barbecued meat, so much so that they have entire restaurants dedicated to meat, known as churrascarias. Originating in southern Brazil, churrasco consists of a variety of meats and sausages cooked over an open flame and served tableside as servers slice the meat you desire. The most popular cut of meat is the picanha, or rump cap.
If you had one too many caipirinhas the night before, you need acarajé. These calorie-laden deep fried balls are stuffed with black-eyed peas, palm oil and pureed onions, then deep fried in more palm oil. Hot from the fryer, the patties are stuffed with dried shrimp and vatapá, a thick spicy stew of shrimp, coconut milk and nuts. The dish originated in Bahia and remains a popular street snack.
Pronounced “fey-jwah-duh,” this is perhaps Brazil’s most iconic and recognizable dish. The meat-lovers stew varies from region to region, and from cook to cook, but everyone agrees it’s one tasty dish. Various cuts of meat - ribs, bones and all - are simmered for hours with black beans and a few other simple ingredients. If Brazil had soul food, this dish would be it.
This tropical fish stew is a staple in the state of Bahia, particularly in the city of Salvador. Representing the city’s Afro-Brazilian heritage, the stew combines a variety of ingredients including red palm oil, plantains, coconut milk and fresh seafood. Topped with farofa, or cassava meal, the stew is an explosion of flavor and color - much like Salvador’s annual carnival!
Brigadeiros are Brazil’s answer to chocolate truffles. Just three ingredients - condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter - come together to make a delicious dessert eaten at birthday parties, soccer games, or really any time. It’s believed the fudge balls were invented during World War II, when fresh ingredients were scarce.
Romeu e Julieta
If this delectable treat would be any other name, would it taste as sweet? We think not. “Romeo & Juliet” is a popular sweet-savory snack of guava paste and mild white cheese. The two components are sandwiched together to make an addictive snack. Variations of guava and cheese can be found all over the country and even the rest of South America.
And to drink...
Brazil’s national drink can be found everywhere, from the beaches of Rio to the rooftop bars of Sao Paulo. The essential ingredient in any caipirinha is cachaça, a type of liquor made from sugarcane. Lime juice and sugar are muddled together, then adding in the cachaça, making a refreshing drink perfect for those balmy Brazilian nights.
Native to the Amazon, guaraná is a type of berry that’s the main ingredient in Brazil’s favorite soft drink. Originating from the Guarani tribe, the berry was used for a caffeine boost (it has twice the caffeine of coffee) as well as a dietary supplement. If you’re in need of a bit of energy while in Brazil, sip on a guaraná soda!