Home style: meals from the heart

Home style: meals from the heart

By
Fernanda de Paula, Shelley Hepworth
Contains
17 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742706801
Photographer
Stuart Scott

Brazil is a country of meat lovers and nothing goes to waste – goat’s tripe stew cooked with blood is still a hit in the North-East. Seafood is important too and there is huge variety along the coast. Grilled lobster and crab stew are popular dishes to mark special occasions. Meanwhile the wetlands of the Pantanal and the rivers of the Amazon region contain thousands of species of freshwater fish. Legendary for its giant size, the Amazon’s pirarucu has become a delicacy, and the Pantanal’s striking pintado (painted fish) has a juicy, white flesh that is perfect for soups and stews.

Although meat is always on the menu, an excellent assortment of fresh, tropical fruit and vegetables are used in side dishes and salads, making for a very balanced diet. The most prolific is cassava root, one of the basics of the cuisine that the native Indigenous people have used for centuries.

A regular day in Brazil consists of three main meals and mid-afternoon tea. Breakfast is eaten straight after waking up, and it’s common to have French bread with butter, cold meats and coffee, sometimes with a piece of fruit. Lunch is by far the most important meal of the day. Brazilians take their time to sit and eat lunch and, even in the busiest cities, the idea of a cold sandwich behind an offce desk isn’t widely accepted. Meals are usually hearty and colourful, with black beans, salad, meat and farofa reigning as part of everyday lunches across the nation. Dinners are usually smaller portions that can be eaten late in the evening, so the rich dishes presented in this chapter, like feijoada and moqueca, are mostly enjoyed at lunchtime.

Family is the centre of the universe for most Brazilians and you can see this in action at weekend feasts. A spread of sumptuously prepared dishes is always on offer, abundant not only in quantity, but also in variety and flavour. These lunches go on for hours – a good chance to get an update on what’s going on in life and to celebrate and reinforce the importance of family.

At the Brazilian table, there’s always plenty for sharing, regardless of the amount prepared. When guests arrive unexpectedly, what could be seen as a bit of a problem is solved by ‘adding water to the beans’, a popular saying used to illustrate that a little creative flair can stretch far. If you’re invited to join, you shouldn’t feel like an intruder or that you’re disturbing plans – Brazilians love to deal with surprises as they emerge. To make sure that you’re pleasing your hosts, don’t hold back on the compliments.

Usually an easy-going, informal bunch, Brazilians aren’t so relaxed when it comes to table manners. Food is rarely eaten by hand. It’s good practice to let the host start eating before anyone else does, and talking with food in your mouth is seriously unacceptable if you’re over the age of five.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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