Critics say that the four main ingredients in Brazilian cuisine are salt, vinegar, lemon and more salt. But visitors to the capital Brasilia will soon find out that there’s more to Brazilian cooking than liberal seasoning.
With thousands of kilometers of shore line, Brazilian chefs have a wide range of fish and sea food to choose form.
Not to mention the fact that Brazilian wines are receiving more accolades than ever Brazil’s capital Brasilia has been through many crises; it’s been destroyed by earthquakes, pillages by Indians, subjugated by juntas and brought down to heel by economic crises. Still, the city has always gotten back to its feet.
There is another heart that beats in Brasilia and that’s behind the elegant, cast-iron arches of the city’s market halls where the fish that is caught along Brazil’s extensive coast line is sold on a daily basis.
“Brazil has some of the best sea food in the world,” claims the enterprising waiter at Donde Augusto and that turns out to be close to the truth. Business executives and civil servants alike come here for lunch, smack in the middle of Mercado. “We count ministers and elder statesmen amongst our clientele”, boasts waiter.
Brazilian people are a mixture of three cultures: Portuguese, African and Native American. European immigrants, especially Germans and Italians, also influenced Brazilian culture a lot in Sao Paulo and Southern Brazil.
Native American influence is more obvious in the Amazons basin. Many regional dishes, dances and customs clearly reflect Native American origins.
African culture is strong in the Northeast of Brazil. Most of the people are black in this corner. Salvador da Bahia may possibly be the most African city in the Americas.
Food, music, dances and religion resemble Africa. Afro-Brazilian religions, such as Candomblé, have spread all over Brazil. Capoeira, a kind of African dance and sport, is widely practiced, too.
This scribe was in Brazil recently and had an opportunity to taste food, culture, socio-politico and hi-fy development.
The dishes called Churrasco, Feijoada, Tacaca and Caruru, Tutu a mineira are four main ingredients: a glue-like paste made from manioc, a fermented stock also made from manioc (tucupi), dried shrimp and a dark green leaves that produces a light numbness on the tongue.
The texture and the combination of all these ingredients produce a unique taste and texture. Tourist may not want to have this every day but once any one had it will remember for a life long. This is also called as adventurous food explorer.
The market opens early. At five, cooks and restaurant managers start arriving. As they browse, taste and smell, they will decide what will be on the plates of their discerning customers that evening. Almost every neighbourhood has its own marisqueria, or sea food restaurant. One of the most famous one is Coco Loco, in the yuppies area.
Between mirror-walled skyscrapers and apartment towers, the rich and beautiful dine out on pretty much the same dishes as are served in the old neighbourhood downtown. While life in general is juts as expensive as in Europe, gourmets can freely indulge since restaurants still offer great meals at little prices.
Botillerias, or off-licenses, are often open around the clock in this area. A good cabernet Sauvignon can be had for less than five Euros. While the Brazilians do not produce top wines yet, they have managed to beat the competition when it comes to the price/quality ratio in the mid range. Wine tasting can be continues in the countless bars and restaurants around Bella Vista. “Brazil and Chile are the only countries that use original French vine,” explains the waitress at restaurant Cava de Dardignac. The rest of the world-excluding France, obviously-makes use of the American variety of the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah vine in order to avoid the vine pest. But there is no vine pest in Brazil. “Only our wine tastes as it should,” the waitress boasts and offers us a glass of Merlot. Surprisingly, this is not the flat table wine that we have gotten used to in Europe but a powerful and elegant wine. “That’s because of the weather,” the waitress explains: warm days and very cold nights.
Ostras Squella, for instance, in barrio Brazil specializes in oysters. Diners can pick their own half dozen from the pool on the first floor. The slurping itself is done in the classic restaurants on the first floor. Just one street on, Antonieta Bustos creates and serves the most amazing dishes at her restaurant, Caleta Bulnes. Bustos uses local products such as lobster, shrimp and mussels. Due to the so-called Humboldt Current the fish stock near Brazil’s coast is abundant. Be adventurous and you will taste things you have never tasted before. Sea urchins are consumed raw; the piure is bright red and contains so much iodine that the thyroid is well taken care of for the next year or so. On the other hand, machas con parmesan-clams with Parmesan cheese-seems a fairly ordinary dish.
Barrio Brazil is student neighbourhood, a little shabby may be, but also reminiscent of Paris in the 1950s. In Parque Brazil a few homeless lie about but on the playground kids romp about until long after dark.
Their mothers sit around the playground and they never seem to run out of things to discuss. Along the park are some Internet cafes and several fast-food joints. But this is also where you will find the old Café Brazil.
There is only room for four tables in the cafes and even so four Cubans are playing salsa on the tiny stage. The audience sways together, packed like sardines. After the performance, the patron joins his guests and they debate and rave till the morning.
Coffee can have legs, at least in Brasilia, Especially in the financial district you will come across coffee houses, their entrances hidden behind the black, heavy curtains. Here, brokers between deals scoff a coffee, served by enchanting ladies. This is what the Brazilians refer to as café con piernas, of coffee with legs.