Regional Food - Brazil
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Origin: southern states (particularly Rio Grande do Sul).
Churrasco is the Brazilian version of barbecue.
In the southern states, particularly Rio Grande do Sul, the regional food consists mostly of churrasco, big chunks of meat cooked with skewers in charcoal ovens.
However good is meat in your country, you should try the Brazilian churrasco houses.
Even more so, if meat is expensive in your country (Japanese find themselves in heaven when they find a Brazilian churrascaria). Meat in Brazil is relatively cheap, and of high quality; whenever necessary, meat is imported from Argentina, probably the best in the world. The churrasqueiros (people who prepare the food) are usually imported from the South; preparing a churrasco is an art.
The best churrasco houses in Brazil are in the south. Some houses have successful branches in the US; take a look at Porcao (they have a branch in Miami and another one in Recife, worth to visit if you go there) and Fogo de Chao. The service system at these places is called "rodizio", meaning you eat all you can while the waiters keep going around offering the several parts; just signify yes or not. Tip: the waiters will often offer you, when you are starting eating, the less noble parts, like sausage and chicken, leaving the best -and more expensive- meats for later, when you are full; so, a tip is to try to hold yourself when you are starting; take a look at the salads buffet, look around to check the plates you may like better (if you have any particular preference, like for example a well done javali leg with garlic, you may even talk to the waiter and be surprised; notice, however, that the American preferred T-Bone is hard to find in Natal and Brazil) and take your time.
Read more about
how churrasco is prepared.
Origin: several mid-southern states (particularly Rio de Janeiro).
Some people say that FEIJOADA is the most typical of Brazilian regional food.
A bit of History: during the slavery epoch, the farmers used to keep the best parts for themselves, and the left overs were given to the slaves; so, when their masters ate pork, slaves had to do with less nobler parts like feet, tail, ears, etc; they boiled these parts with black beans, and so they created the feijoada.
The plate is very greasy, don't exaggerate if you have problems with colesterol.
Feijoada goes well with couve, orange (these are rich in fibers and will help with the digestion) and caipirinha. If you have feijoada for lunch, reserve a few hours to rest in the afternoon.
Several restaurants offer feijoada a few days of week. The best way to try it, however, is to go to a restaurant where the parts are serverd separately: you can, for example, get more of beans and sausage, and take less or nothing of ears and tails.
Read more about
how feijada is prepared.
Dishes: MOQUECA, ACARAJE
Bahia has a rich culinary, rich in condiments. Two bahia especialites you can find in Natal are moquecas and acaraje.
Acaraje looks like an hamburger bread made of smashed beans, fried and stuffed with vatapa, sururu (both also typical bahia foods) and small shrimps; don't ever ask the lady to put pepper, help it yourself if you want it hot. Like everything else, cooking in Bahia is a little mystical; only those women who learn the due secrets can cook acaraje and dress as a cooker.
Moquecas are based on fish and sea food cooked with dende or coconut oil. Several details, like the combination of condiments, the cooking in the proper clay pot, etc, make for a good moqueca.
Origin: Minas Gerais
Food in Minas Gerais is based on the same ingredients as other states, but the way it's prepared changes. Many dishes based on rice, beans, vegetable and meats.
There's a good restaurant in Natal, the "Feitico Mineiro" (Mineiro Witch, "mineiro" being the gentilic of Minas Gerais), at Praia do Meio, almost in front of famous Chaplin; go during lunch hours to taste a self service of the best of cuisine mineira in Natal; for dinner, the service is a la carte, and there is a big variety of cachacas, for which Minas Gerais happens to be very famous.
Origin: other states
Other states have their own culinary, but not yet a presence in restaurants of Natal.
For example, the state of Para has a typical plate based on duck, not served in Natal; people from Amazonas uses to taste alligators, but these are a bit difficult to find here.
We will keep looking.
Regional food - NATAL
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