Delicious Brazil

Published in Gourmet Live 09.19.12
We're betting on Brazil as the next great cuisine to conquer the American palate—because açaí, Caipirinhas, and world-class steaks are just the beginning. Learn why Brazil's regional dishes and international influences make it a food culture ripe for discovery
Delicious Brazil

Água de coco, Rio-style

With a powerhouse economy and, soon, a starring role hosting the world's biggest sporting events—the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (summer 2016)—Brazil is about to take a giant step onto the global stage. We predict the next few years will catapult a relatively undiscovered cuisine—seasoned with dashes of Portugal, Africa, Italy, Japan, and even the Middle East—to prominence, so we're devoting this issue to the foods and culinary culture of Brazil.

Beyond a few dishes and drinks, Brazilian food is "off the radar" and "the least known major South American cuisine" in the U.S., to quote two of the dozen-plus restaurant critics interviewed for Brazil: Ready for Its Culinary Close-Up. We explore the reasons why Brazil's cuisine has been a well-kept secret, and why classics such as the national dish, feijoada—a meaty, rich elevation of rice and beans—wait in the wings while all-you-can-eat meat gets all the glory in the few Stateside Brazilian restaurants.

In a comprehensive guide to Brazil's regional cuisine, Gourmet Live's Carolina Santos-Neves, who is of Brazilian descent herself, introduces the must-eat dishes in Brazil's five main regions, including bonbons made from the superfruit cupuaçu; the falafel-like acarajé, made with black-eyed peas; fried cod croquettes; and a rich shrimp moqueca thick with manioc and coconut milk.

Advance your knowledge with our Amazonian food glossary, a guide to key ingredients and dishes from the wild and remote river basin, from A (açaí and alfavaca) to many Ts, including tambaqui, a fish that feeds mostly on fruit and seeds and is prized for its ribs.

Now that you're well fed, how about a drink? Get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of cachaça—the sugarcane-based spirit in Brazil's best-known cocktail, the Caipirinha—in 10 Questions for Nate Whitehouse, the cofounder of Avuá Cachaça. Whitehouse explains how things like terroir, altitude, and the type of yeast used in the fermentation affect the small-batch cachaça he and his partners produce.

What Brazilian dish do you most want to try? Or do you already have a favorite? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors' favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

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