Category Archives: Food

The best Brazilian beers

 

Green cow IPa
Green Cow IPA. Promotional photo/Seasons

Ever heard of Green Cow IPA, produced by Seasons Brewery, in Porto Alegre? Or Colorado Vixnu, from Ribeirão Preto, in the state of São Paulo? Or Ithaca Imperial Stout, also brewed by Colorado, in Ribeirão?

These three beers are among the best produced in the country, according to Gordon Strong, president of the Beer Judge Certification Program, a reference in beer contests around the world. He just visited several Brazilian brewing centers and summed up his impressions to Paladar blog, published by daily O Estado de S. Paulo.  Generally speaking, Strong said that the Brazilian (artisan) beer he drank were mostly correct and he praised both their “basic qualities and boldness”. But he complained that they were served excessively cold in a festival he attended in of the country’s beer meccas, Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina, which compromised their balance.

Read also 10 Brazilian drinks as cool as caipirinha, The best caipirinha ever and Cachaça labels: the funny, the ugly and the frankly x-rated





	

What Brazilian pepper is the hottest

The German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who visited Brazil in early 19th century, said that “chilis are as essential to Natives as salt is for the White”. Till these days, chilis are present in every day diet of a huge portion of the country’s population and it essential to Afro-Brazilian rituals.

Of course, chili peppers are not all born the same – and their sexiness is, to large extent, related to their capacity of making one suffer. Take the hottest pepper in the world, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper. It scores 1,463,700 in the Scoville heat unit scale, which is based on the presence of capsaicin, the active molecule of chili. In comparison, a green pepper would get a zero and the habanero chili would be somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000.

What about Brazilian peppers, so praised for their power of bringing tears to the eyes of the bravest machos? In the country, you find a variety that includes sweet, mild dedo-de-moça (girl’s finger) and heavy metal cumari, that reaches 300,000 in the Scoville scale.

Here is the basic Brazilian chili menu:

Malagueta – a variety of Capsicum frutescens, very popular in Brazil, specially in Bahia, but also appreciated in Portugal, Mozambique and Cape Verde. Somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 in Scoville scale. It is planted mainly in the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais and Goiás.

Biquinho – This Capsicum chinense scores mere 1.000 and is generally used in sauces or preserves, mainly in the state of Minas Gerais.

Cumari – It can be either the very hot variety of Capsicum baccatum, planted in the Southeast, or cumari-do-Pará, a yellow, round Capsicum chinense, way hotter than biquinho and also used in preserves.

Dedo-de-moça – Another Capsicum baccatum, long and delicate like a girl’s’ pinkie.

Pimenta-de-cheiro – A Capsicum chinense with long fruit that can be yellow or black and with varying levels of heat.

Main sources – Embrapa and a study by Raquel Zancanaro, from Universidade de Brasília.

Read also: 7 Brazilian comfort foods, 7 Brazilian fruits that could be the next açaí, Brazil and food, a love story and 10 unforgettable Brazilian dishes

 

Coffee brigadeiro – the crossing of two national passions

Photo and yummy sweet by Luciene Evans
by Luciene Evans*

I have been told I created a recipe that promises to become a new traditional candy on the tables of kids’ birthday parties.

It happened like this: while organizing my daughter’s birthday party, I learned that one of the children I invited was allergic to chocolate, peanut and coconut. These are the main ingredients in the three most famous and traditional Brazilian candies we serve at birthday parties in Brazil – brigadeiro, cajuzinho and beijinho. I was planning to serve all these during my girl’s party, but I decided I would make something different, that the allergic kid could eat without risk, and, at the same time, something everybody else would enjoy as well.

After some thought, I came up with an idea for a recipe that combined the traditional brigadeiro with our passion for coffee, and made a “brigadeiro de café/ coffee brigadeiro”. Of course, there are other recipes of brigadeiro de café out there, but they include chocolate, nuts and even coffee liqueur. Kind of complicated, isn’t it? Mine has much less ingredients, is equally delicious, and so easy everybody can make. Check it out!

1 cup condensed milk
½ cup table cream
3 teaspoons instant powder coffee (I prefer decaf for the kids)

Mix all ingredients in a medium pan and take to medium flame. Do not stop stirring till the mix gets loose from the bottom of the pan. Let it cool off. Pass some butter on your hands and make little balls with the mix. You can roll the candies on decorative sugar, and put them in individual bonbon forms.

Ah, and if you put less coffee, it will taste like caramel. This means you can use the same ingredients to make two different candies. Cool, isn’t it?

Read also: 6 Brazilian cakes, Brazilian coffee – children’s delight and 7 Brazilian comfort foods.

* Luciene Evans is a Brazilian journalist that writes children literature and loves to throw parties.

6 Brazilian cakes

Big wedding in Rio. Photo by Claudia Midori/ Flickr

Brazilians are known for their sweet teeth. Most desert dishes include a huge amount of sugar – and it is probably wise to reduce it when following a recipe. It is also a cake-loving country with a long baking tradition. Check if you have already tasted all of these wonders:

 

1 – Bolo Brigadeiro – the cake version of brigadeiro, the little chocolate sweet covered in chocolate sprinkles served in children’s birthday parties. Lots and lots of really sweet chocolate plus condensed milk. Major Knitter has a recipe.

 

Little quindins in a photo by Jorge Andrade/ Flickr

2 – Bolo Quindim (or Quindão) – A direct descendant of all those highly caloric egg yolk and sugar Portuguese sweets, such as pastel de Santa Clara. Is it a cake, or maybe a pudding? Never mind. It will reduce your life span, but it is absolutely mind blowing. Try this recipe from Cooking Inside.

 

Bolo de fubá. Photo by Eduardo Hulshof/Flickr

3 – Bolo de Fubá – the bread-and-butter of Brazilian cakes, frequently served for breakfast. Common in bakeries, not in fancy candy shops, it is made of corn meal. Sonia-Portuguese blog has a bilingual recipe.

4 – Bolo Prestígio – It has this name because, like Nestle’s Prestígio bar, it mixes layers of coconut and chocolate. Vanessa’s Home Kitchen has a recipe.

Photo by Diego Albuquerque/ Wikipedia

5 – Bolo de Rolo – typical of the Northeast region, it piles impossibly thin layers of guava jam and cake. The Cookie Shop has the recipe.

6 – Bolo Souza LeãoJungledrums magazine published recently a very cool post about it:

Do you like a nice slice of pound cake from time to time? Or do you prefer custard when it’s time for dessert? Brazilians have solved this timeless and universal dilemma by creating a hybrid sweet that is half cake, half custard.

Some more food articles on Deep Brazil: Brazilian diet: what is the country eating? and 7 Brazilian comfort foods and 10 unforgettable Brazilian dishes

Check also this new website with a quick overview of Brazilian cuisine: Brazilian food on your site

 

Is coffee for children?

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Photo by Igor Schutz/Flickr

I don’t remember a day of my life I didn’t have a cup of coffee mixed with milk at wake up time. It is absolutely normal for a Brazilian child to have it for breakfast as soon as he/she is out of the high chair.  But children generally don’t drink cafézinho, the coffee shot that may follow a meal or that is offered to guests – this is rather an adult habit. This reminds me of the way French parents deal with wine. It is offered to kids with moderation, maybe diluted in water, without fuss. And the French, by the way, also offer their children a bowl of café au lait in the morning.

Living in the US, I realized that the child-coffee connection is not universally accepted. More than once I met people who consider hideous offering caffeine to somebody underage.

Check this old Brazilian ads that make a huge effort to seduce very young viewers. Is this wrong, in your opinion?

5 Brazilian kitchen essentials

Cuia de mate. Photo by Gabriela Sakamoto/Flickr
Cuia de mate. Photo by Gabriela Sakamoto/Flickr

What makes a Brazilian kitchen Brazilian? Maybe the dishes produced, maybe the nationality of the cook, but also the objects that you might find there.

  • Cuia de mate – Drinking the bitter scalding mate, also known as chimarrão, is an essential part of social life if you are from Rio Grande do Sul state (or maybe certain parts of the Amazon and the Central region where the gaúcho culture is strong).  It is not merely a hot drink, it is a whole set of traditions, that include sipping the mate from a gourd that generally is lined with silver or some cheaper metal. Many people will have several mate sets – including one “traveling kit” with a leather bag big enough to hold a thermos, the gourd and the metal straw and a supply of mate tea.

    escorredor-de-arroz-300x300
    Lava-arroz
  • Lava-arroz – this clever gadget was invented in the late fifties by  Therezinha Zorowich, that works as a dentist in São Paulo. It has two compartments, one to wash rice (which is eaten practically daily by most Brazilians) and the other to let the water go.

 

  •  Pilãothe wooden mortar is normally used to prepare the national drink, caipirinha.

Pilão. Photo by Mauro Guanandi/ Flickr

Pilão. Photo by Mauro Guanandi/ Flickr

  • Cuia de tacacáTacacá is a very typical Amazonian cassava soup, with the power to numb your lips in a bizarre way. It is always served in a special bowl made of a gourd of cuieira (a local tree), which is painted black.
Cuia de tacacá. Photo by Fernanda Ramalho / Flickr
Cuia de tacacá. Photo by Fernanda Ramalho / Flickr
  • Espeto – Meat lovers of the world, salivate!  This is the metal skewer used to hold bloody steaks in barbecues and churrascarias.
Espeto de churrasco. Photo by tsc_traveler/Flickr
Espeto de churrasco. Photo by tsc_traveler/Flickr

Brazilian diet: what is the country eating?

Photo by Rodrigo Paoletti/ Flickr

Too much sugar, too much salt, lots of food with low nutritious value and three daily cups of coffee. That is on the table of Brazilians, according to a study just released by IBGE, the federal statistics bureau. Even if the balanced and healthy traditional rice-bean-meat menu is still prevalent, the country needs to reconsider its diet. According to IBGE:

The ingestion of some components of a healthy diet, such as rice, beans, fresh fish and cassava flour, decreases as the per capita family income increases.  In opposition, the consumption of pizza, fried snacks, sweets and soft drinks rises.  The ingestion of fruits, vegetables and diet/light dairy products also increases in this income range.

Each Brazilian consumes, in average (in grams per day)*:

Here are some of the main conclusions of this study, based on 34 thousand interviews made in 2008 and 2009: Continue reading Brazilian diet: what is the country eating?

Honoring Saint John

São João in Piraí, Rio state. Photo by João Vicente/JVC, via Flickr

Saint John’s festival, celebrated today, is a delicious fake celebration of rural lifestyle, with all the surreal stereotypes that this entitles.
It has, almost inevitably, the following elements:
1 – A mock wedding of a shy pregnant freckled bride in pigtails and a bridegrooms in shabby suit, straw hat and missing teeth. Continue reading Honoring Saint John

Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

No commodity says Brazil as much as coffee. This year, the country’s coffee exports should reach US$ 7 billion and the internal sales will be also huge: each Brazilian consumes an average of 6.4 kilos of coffee per year.

Frank Sinatra was, for a while, the main ambassador of Brazilian coffee abroad, thanks to his 1946 “The Coffee Song”,  that chartered number 6 in the US. With lyrics by Bob Hilliard and music by Dick Miles, it makes sarcastic references to the omnipresence of the drink in the country – “the politician’s daughter was accused of drinking water and was fined a great big fifty dollar bill” – might be seen as a criticism or despise, but the truth is it helped reinforcing the case for Brazilian coffee – a strong brand till these days. Continue reading Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

7 Brazilian comfort foods

Brigadeiro, by Alexandre Hamada Possi/Flickr
Brigadeiro, by Alexandre Hamada Possi/Flickr

When a Brazilian lacks energy and is depressed (which happens sometimes, believe me), he/she reaches instinctively for some jewels of comfort cuisine. Here is my list. Did I miss something?

 

1        Romeu e Julieta – The combination of Minas cheese (a white solid-but-shaky delight) with goiabada (a block of guava sweet) is a favorite of Brazilian children. Given the contrast between both tastes and colors, I would suggest renaming this desert after another Shakespeare’s play: Othelo and Desdemona. Continue reading 7 Brazilian comfort foods