From feijoada to churrasco, part 2: a closer look at Brazilian cuisine
A continuation from part 1: how Brazilian cuisine was inspired by food from hundreds of different nations
Firstly, a big thank you to you all for your 'bumps' and kind comments of the first 'From Feijoada to Churrasco' article. It was an article I really enjoyed writing. Anyway, as promised, I'm now sharing part 2 – where I will focus a bit more on desserts, sweet treats and savoury snacks. I've always admired how well Brazilians bake; even the simplest of cakes or puddings are always so incredibly delicious.
Now, this is a topic that I didn't touch on at all in part 1 – and deliberately so. The reason being, you may well have been dreaming too much about a Brazilian churrasco or a feijoada to think about desserts and sweat treats; and frankly, this deserves your undivided attention.
So, what does Brazil bring to the table? Well, quite a wide variety. A lot of desserts in Brazil are not totally unique and have similarities to their counterparts from around the world. But there are one or two desserts that are completely unique to Brazil.
The top of the image above is a 'pudim de leite' (milk pudding). It actually tastes much better than it sounds. The main ingredients are condensed milk, eggs and a caramel top. On the bottom is the famous quindim pudding, with the left being the traditional version. Its primary ingredients are coconut, egg yolks and sugar.
Brigadeiro & beijinho – party sweets
Brigadeiros and beijinhos – "brigadeiros" and "little kisses"
These are as typical a party sweet in Brazil as the "Party Ring" is to British birthday parties. There isn't a translation for 'brigadeiro', but the translation for 'beijinho' is 'Little Kiss'. Growing up in Brazil, I can safely say that not a single birthday party went by without a tray or two of brigadeiros and beijinhos. Their main ingredients are condensed milk and cocoa powder or desiccated coconut (depending which one you are making). They are remarkably simple and easy sweets to make, and they taste magnificent. I shall post the recipe separately...
Salgadinhos –"little snacks"
These are also party favourites. Go to any party of any sort and these, along with brigadeiros and beijinhos, will make an appearance. You could almost say these are as popular at Brazilian children's birthday parties as sausage rolls are in the UK.
These are called "salgadinhos" and the closest translation to English is 'little snacks'. There are all different kinds of fillings – chicken, beef, cheese, and so on. They are all breaded, in some way, with a flour based exterior holding it all together. They are then deep fried. Salgadinhos are everything but healthy. They are, however, delicious – and unfortunately, highly addictive.
Some Brazilians even switch on their inner entrepreneur, by making and selling salgadinhos to their friends and referred customers. In Brazil, almost everyone has at least one go-to person for salgadinhos (though this was a bit of a bigger thing before social media).
Açaí na tigela – "açaí in a bowl"
Açaí is also quite unique to Brazil. Of course, it doesn't come about magically in a purple yoghurt type texture. Açaí is grape-like berry and comes from the açaí palm tree, found in the rainforest in South America. It's supposed to be quite healthy and is even considered a superfood by some – so health-conscious Brazilians (if you ignore the brigadeiros, beijinhos and salgadinhos) love it.
As a result, you won't be surprised to hear that açaí has been commercialised over the last few years, with the açaí na tigela (açaí in a bowl) taking Brazil by storm. You can now find it served virtually everywhere. It's become quite a tradition when at the mall, to stop by for a bowl of açaí. As you can see in the image above, the berries are blended into a yoghurt-like texture, other fruits are added, and it is usually topped with granola.
So overall, Brazil is not just about football (once upon a time), beaches or Caipirinhas, even though we all love all those things. Especially Caipirinhas.