The richness of the Brazilian cuisine is the result of a great blend. The ingredients brought by people who migrated here over the years were added to the great diversity of the ingredients grown in the country. Likewise, the cooking habits, the treatment given to the ingredients, and the ways of serving bring together the tradition of every people to the inventiveness of the Brazilians.
Thus, the same dish can have many ways of preparation, and an ancient ingredient can always surprise as it is presented in a new way. Some traits, however, characterize a region more than another. The changes don’t come to an end, but you can trace the origins and traditions that, somehow, still feature some regional cuisines. The northern region, for example, is deeply characterized by the Amazon biome, which offers delicious river fishes, and by some indigenous people’s habits, that took control of the cassava. In the Southeast, ingredients and conservation methods used by Scouts still characterize local habits. It is the region of peasant and caiçara (fishermen) food. But it is also in the Southeast that the gastronomic capitals are concentrated, and where you can experience all that’s new.
The change in climate and biomes along the Brazilian territory, the traditions and innovations favor the use of various ingredients and techniques. Thus, it is not possible to quote a traditional dish that represents by itself the wealth of Brazilian cuisine.
In order to better understand this complexity, it’s worth knowing the characteristics, cultural influences, main ingredients and dishes of each region:
North - Northeast - Southeast - Central-West - South - National sweet dishes - Cachaça
The region made up by the states of Amazonas (AM), Acre (AC), Roraima (RR), Rondônia (RO), Pará (PA), Amapá (AP) and Tocantins (TO) has one of the richest biodiversity in the world. About 80% of the region is occupied by the Amazon Forest and much of the population lives
along the rivers, which are almost all waterways. It is through this region that the Amazon goes by, the world’s largest water flow, and its numerous tributaries. Thus, river fishes have a strong presence in the regional menu.
The Amazon Fruits
The cuisine of the region benefits from the wealth of ingredients that the Amazon biome offers. As the region’s ancient inhabitants, the Indians were the first to create traditional ways of cooking. Over 35% of the approximately 800,000 Indians of the country live in the North. The influence of this population’s habits in the cuisine is easily noticed, starting by the instruments they use. They are made of pestle, pots made of clay, fruit peels, wood or animal hooves, sieves made of straw, and other typical tools. Among the ingredients that populate the regional dishes are the fish, roots, seeds, leaves and fruits:
Cupuaçu - typical fruit of the Brazilian Amazon, used in juices, vitamins, ice cream, and jams and jellies.
Açaí - the largest producer of this fruit is the state of Pará. In the Amazon, it can be eaten with manioc flour or ‘tapioca’ (nutritive preparation of cassava starch), or serve as a base for ‘pirão’ (mush or meal of manioc flour boiled in water) that accompanies fish dishes. But they also make juices and pulps.
Pirarucu - one of the largest freshwater fish in the country is also known as the ‘Amazon cod’.
Tucunaré (Peacock Bass) - Amazonian fish that serves as the basis for many local dishes.
Urucum (Annatto) - the native fruit of the tropical America has a red seed from which are made spices and dyes.
Jambu - herb used in cooking throughout the region, it is known for leaving a numb mouth. This happens because its leaves have a slight anesthetic substance which causes salivation.
Guaraná - the Amazonian native fruit is used in the manufacture of soft drinks, syrups, juices and powders. It is known to have stimulant properties.
Brazil nuts - the seed is consumed fresh, roasted, or even as flour, in candies or ice cream.
This root grown and treated by Indians serves as the basis of several traditional and regional dishes. Across the country, it is also consumed boiled, fried or used in the form of flour or starch (extracted from the root, also known as tapioca starch or sweet gum). There are several names for cassava, and each region can refer to a different type of root: ‘macaxeira’ and ‘aipim’ are the most common. One type, also known as ‘mandioca-brava’, needs to be prepared for long periods of cooking, to eliminate an acid present in its roots and leaves.
The regional cuisine received many influences in each cycle of immigration. Early in the colonization, the Portuguese who dominated farming techniques and animal breeding brought their habits of cooking and food preservation in salt and sugar. From this blend, preserves, jams, compotes and exotic liquors, all with local ingredients, were created.
With the rubber exploitation cycle, immigrants from various regions of the country were working in the extraction of latex. All left traces of ways of dealing with the ingredients of the region. The strongest influence was from the Northeast - one of the dishes that was born
from this mixture is the ‘caldeirada de tucunaré’ (peacock bass stew). But Lebanese, Japanese and Italian people also arrived in the region.
Among the traditional dishes served in the region, the following are highlighted:
‘Pato no Tucupi’ (duck in Tucupi)
Traditional dish of the Amazon region, especially Pará. Tucupi is a liquid extracted from peeled ‘macaxeira-brava’ (a species of cassava) grated and squeezed in an artisanal way and it is cooked for days. Pieces of duck are cooked in this broth and served with manioc flour, white rice and sheets of ‘Jambu’.
This dish of indigenous origin is a kind of hot soup that takes ‘tucupi’ (a seasoning prepared of pepper and manioc juice), boiled tapioca gum (a cassava derivative), ‘Jambu’ and shrimp. It is usually served in gourds, easily found in the tents of the ‘tacacazeiras,’ (women
who sell the ‘tacacá’) on the streets of the city of Belém, Pará state.
Known as the feijoada (dish of beans cooked with dried meat, pork, sausages, etc.) from Pará, it can take more than a week to be ready. The delay is caused mainly by the cooking of the manioc leaf (the cassava plant). Dried meat, bacon, tripe, calf’s foot, pig’s ears, feet and ribs, chorizo, sausage and salamelle (a variety of pork sausage) are added to the broth. The dish is served with white rice, flour and pepper.
‘Pirarucu de casaca’
The fish is cut into pieces, desalted and fried in olive oil. Then is served layered with fried bananas, manioc, potatoes stew and ‘farofa’ made with cassava flour, eggs and coconut milk.
‘Caldeirada de tucunaré’
Type of stew, usually made with fish and vegetables, common in Portugal. In the peacock stew served in the city of Manaus, the recipe asks for fish, potatoes, onions, cabbage, peppers, eggs, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro. The mixture also needs tomato sauce and comes with pirão (mush or meal of manioc flour boiled in water), as a side dish.
The diverse biomes in the Northeast region are reflected in its cuisine. The semiarid climate of the caatinga (region covered with brushwood) leaves its signature on dishes linked to food preservation and high calorie content. In the Wasteland and its extensive coastline, the recipes gain a diversity of ingredients and colors. The strong flavor and taste of pepper, however, characterizes the northeastern cuisine as a whole. Many of the dishes are found throughout the region, but the visitor can find, in each of the nine states, special ways of preparing them. The following states are part of the Northeastern region: Bahia (BA), Sergipe (SE) and Alagoas (AL), Pernambuco (PE), Paraíba (PB), Rio Grande do Norte (RN), Ceará (CE), Piauí (PI) and Maranhão (MA).
In addition to the native fruits of the caatinga and dry region of the northeast, northeastern cuisine includes in its menu novelties brought by foreigners. The coconut, an important ingredient in the cuisine, was brought from India by the Portuguese. The ‘sarapatel’ (dish made of the boiled blood and viscera of hogs) and the ‘buchada’ (dish made of an animal’s insides) are dishes based on the Lusitanian cuisine. In the backlands, the cowboys keep the habit of consuming simple and strong dishes, made with corned beef, cassava, corn and beans. Palm oil, a spice found in many of the traditional dishes, as well as the cayenne pepper, were brought by the Africans. ‘Acarajé’ (little cake made of ground beans, fried in palm oil and served with shrimps, pepper sauce and vatapá) and ‘vatapá’ (dish made of manioc flour, oil, pepper, fish and shrimp) are the products of this cultural mix. Learn about the main ingredients used in the region:
‘Azeite de dendê’ (palm oil) - the palm oil has an orange color, which adds color and a unique flavor to the dishes. Produced largely in the southeast of Bahia, it is extracted from a palm tree originally from the east coast of Africa.
‘Pimenta malagueta’ (cayenne pepper) - the species was brought by the Negroes of Africa, and it is mainly used in the cuisine from Bahia state.
Coconut milk - made from the coconut’s white inside, beaten with a little water and strained. It is used in ‘bobó de camarão’ (a dish consisting of stewed shrimp with coconut milk, dendê oil and manioc cream).
Fish and seafood - the northeastern coast provides fishes, mollusks and shellfish widely used in the local cuisine. Many dishes are made with big shrimps. Crabs are served in portions.
Beans - there are several types. White, black, green and French beans are the most used.
Cheese curd - traditional product of the northeastern backlands, it is found mainly in Pernambuco, Paraíba, Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte.
Corn - consumed in countless ways, it can be boiled or roasted and used as a basis for preparing ‘canjica’ (dish made from grated green corn, sugar, milk and cinnamon), cakes, ‘pamonha’ (a sweetish concoction of which green corn paste is the chief ingredient, rolled and baked in fresh corn husks), ‘curau’ (dish made of salted meat brayed together with manioc flour), among other recipes.
Cassava - in the Northeast, the sweetest version of this root is known as manioc. The flour is used as a side dish and can even be eaten for breakfast.
Beef - it is usual to find the meat already dried in the sun (called ‘carne de sol’) or airdried and preserved with salt (dried meat). It can be served in portions or be used as an ingredient in dishes from the region.
Fruit - From the great variety of fruits consumed in the region some of them are: guava, cashew nut, banana, mango, jack-fruit, araça (kind of guava), mangaba, sapodilla, umbu, hog plum and soursop. From the cashew, the chestnut is also extracted, used in many traditional recipes.
Among the traditional dishes served in the region, the following are highlighted:
A recipe that calls for goat entrails boiled in the stomach (intestines) of the animal. For strong stomachs.
Dried meat with curd mush
It is the dried meat served with a mush made from curd cheese, milk, bottle butter (kind of butter that is kept in its liquid state in room temperature inside a bottle) and cassava flour.
‘Baião de dois’
Dish made with green or French beans, mixed with white rice, dried meat, or dried meat and curd cheese. Served with the traditional bottle butter.
Fish stew with coconut milk, palm oil, pepper and cilantro.
‘Paçoca’ of dried meat
‘Farofa’ made from cassava flour, dried meat and minced onion. It can be served with banana and a ‘baião de dois’.
Made of cassava gum, in discs like pancakes, and served with sweet or salty stuffing.
Traditionally prepared by the ‘baianas’, ‘acarajé’ is a small dough made of French beans fried in palm oil. It can be stuffed with ‘vatapá’, ‘caruru’ (dish prepared by stewing dried shrimps, okra, minced herbs with palm oil and spices) and pepper sauce.
‘Caldo de sururu’
Soup made with shellfish, coconut milk and palm oil.
‘Caldo de mocotó’
This hot soup is made of ox paws, from where the traditional broth comes out.
Dish made of white beans cooked with beef tripe
With different recipes in each state, the ‘sarapatel’ is a stew made with viscera of hogs, lamb or goat, thickened with the blood of the animal. It’s served with flour and pepper.
There are several versions for the cream of shrimp, which can take bread, breadcrumbs or cornmeal, peanut, cashew, pepper, coconut milk and palm oil.
Just as ‘vatapá’, this dish became popular among the people from Pará and is also served in this state, with some modifications. Basically, ‘caruaru’ is a mush (cassava flour mixed with a hot broth) made with okra, shrimp, parsley and oil palm.
‘Bolo de rolo’
Candy made with a thin sponge cake wrapped with layers of ‘goiabada’ (guava jam), covered with sugar. Served in thin slices.
Formed by the biomes of the Amazon, Cerrado, Atlantic Forest and Pantanal, the Midwest region is made up by the states of Mato Grosso (MT), Goiás (GO) and Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), and the Federal District (DF). Thanks to the natural wealth of the region, its cuisine is very rich and diverse. The Cerrado (open pasture with patches of stunted vegetation) is the only biome prevailing in all states. The cuisine of the region is strongly influenced by livestock, one of the main economic activities in the territory, which shares with beef, pork and goat meat the population’s preference.
In the traditional cuisine of Mato Grosso, it is very common to find dishes that combine meat (from traditional to exotic ones) to traditional spices of the ‘cerrado’. Thanks to the influence of ‘Pantanal’, fish is the most consumed product in the region. Among the dishes that take fish on the menu, the highlights are the traditional ‘Mojica’, beef stew prepared with the fish
‘Pintado’; ‘Ventrecha’, fried ribs of ‘Pacu’ a type of fish; and fried steak of ‘Piraputanga’. The most common side dishes are rice, “farofa” of banana and mush of manioc flour. The piranha broth is also a mandatory dish on the table of the people of Mato Grosso.
Beef and pork meats share space on the table of the people from Mato Grosso with a variety of exotic meats. Previously consumed only in rural areas, meats such as wild boar, alligator and capybara, today it can be found in major cities throughout the state. The most famous recipes with traditional meats of Mato Grosso are the ‘costela atolada’, ‘guisado à moda cuiabana’ (stew in the Cuiabá style), dried meat with banana, chopped okra, ‘vaca atolada’, among many others.
The spices used to prepare these traditional dishes are found within the state. “Pequi”, cassava, corn, pepper and yerba mate are much used to enrich the vast cuisine from Mato Grosso. There are also a variety of preserves, assorted desserts and, of course, liqueurs and cachaça (sugar cane alcoholic drink).
Consisting mostly (97%) by Cerrado, and 3% of the Atlantic Forest, the state of Goiás has a tropical semi-humid climate. This contributes to a rich cuisine which made the state a reference worldwide. The ‘galinhada’ is the best known dish of the state, made with rice, chicken and ‘pequi’ - which can also be replaced by ‘guariroba’, a species of heart of palm, a symbol from
the region. Among the ingredients, ‘pequi’ is the most famous in Goiás’ cuisine. As well-known as controversial, there’s no middle ground to it.
With a strong and very peculiar flavor, ‘pequi’ is used to make salty and sweet dishes, jams, ice cream, liqueurs and even oils.
A pie that takes pork, sausage, chicken, ‘guariroba’ and cheese.
With pork rind, sausage, cabbage and cassava flour.
Maria Isabel rice
It takes meats and species from the region.
Fish in the tile
It can be done with the fish ‘Pintado’ or ‘Surubim’, lots of peppers, onions, garlic and goat pepper.
Located east of the state of Goiás, the Federal District is home to the country’s capital, Brasília. Its population consists of people who came from several states. Thanks to this diversity, the cuisine of Brazil’s capital absorbed various references. In Brasília you can go to a restaurant from Minas Gerais, Goiás, Rio Grande do Sul, from the Northeast without leaving the city.
Its prevailing biome is from the Cerrado (100%), which contributes to a closer relationship with the cuisine of
Goiás. But international cuisine is greatly present in the city. There are plenty of Germans, Italian, French, Portuguese and Argentine restaurants.
The cuisine of the four Southeastern states incorporated dishes and habits from different cultures. In the countryside, the famous ‘tropeira’ food still inhabits the kitchens of families and traditional restaurants. Some say that the pizza from São Paulo is better than the real pasta made in Italy. Are they exaggerating? What is evident is that the city is a reference in the subject and attracts thousands of people because of its fame. The Italian immigrants arrived in the four states, but most chose São Paulo as their destination.
The capital of São Paulo also has the largest Japanese community in Brazil and the Liberdade district is home to most of these immigrants. ‘Tabouli’ (wheat salad), ‘kibbe’ (Arab dish, made of deep-fried ground meat and whole wheat flour), ‘esfijas’, ‘hummus’ and ‘kaftas’ reached the Southeast through the Syrian-Lebanese. In Minas Gerais, dishes such as ‘feijão tropeiro’ and ‘angu’ (flour of manioc, maize or rice boiled in water and salt) are an inheritance of the pioneers.
São Paulo attracts every year almost 12 million visitors. Most of them come for business, but for decades the capital has attracted visitors because of its culinary wealth. Voted the World Gastronomy Capital, São Paulo brings together the best restaurants in the country. It’s more than ten thousand options, ranging from simple cuisine to the most refined. This variety of options has put the city on top of the list of best places to eat. In São Paulo, you can go to a Japanese, Italian, Thai, German, Mexican, Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinean, Turkish, Greek, Korean, Chinese restaurants. The possibilities are endless, enabling the tourist to enjoy the best dishes of the world in the same city. Throughout the year the most diverse festivals are held, which further contributes to the fame that the capital acquired. Renowned chefs are invited to attend
these events, and end up opening or expanding their businesses in the city.
But São Paulo has not only imported flavors and world experts in haute cuisine, the city is also responsible for launching internationally recognized names. Mentioned in the Michelin Guide and considered by the publication as one of the best chefs in the world, Alex Atala has taken the Brazilian cuisine to all continents. Helen Rizzo and the restaurant chain Fasano are other names highlighted by the major international publications.
Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte are on the list of cities also famous for haute cuisine. In Rio de Janeiro’s state capital, the most prominent name is that of Chef Roberta Sudbrack. Her restaurant in Rio, alongside D.O.M. and Mani (both in São Paulo) are on the list of the
British magazine Restaurant. In Belo Horizonte, it is important to highlight Chef Ivo Faria, also nationally and internationally acclaimed.
Delights of Minas Gerais
Consisting mostly of Cerrado, followed by Mata Atlântica and Caatinga, the state of Minas Gerais produces a series of traditional foods from the land. ‘Pão de queijo’ (cheese bread), ‘polenta’ (a kind of porridge made of cornmeal), chicken with okra, pururuca style piglet, Minas style tutu (a dish prepared of beans, bacon and manioc). It’s impossible to list all the dishes of the traditional cuisine of Minas Gerais we know. Abundant from breakfast to dinner, the cuisine of the state is known throughout Brazil. The famous Minas cheese is produced exclusively in five micro regions of Minas Gerais: Canastra Mountain Range (West), Araxá and Alto Paranaíba (Triângulo Mineiro), Serro (center) and Campos das Vertentes (South). All cheeses are made with the same production methods and ingredients, but the soil of each farm gives the products a peculiar flavor.
Other highlights of the Southeast
- Roast chicken with ‘farofa’ (manioc flour toasted in butter or olive oil)
- Frango (chicken) ‘caipira’ with okra
- ‘Quirera’ or ‘Canjiquinha mineira’ (a dish made from grated green corn, sugar, milk and cinnamon)
- Roasted pork loin
- ‘Feijão (beans) tropeiro mineiro’
- Beef Stew with bananas
- Homemade pastry
- Couscous Paulista
The weekend is the time to eat “feijoada”, the most popular dish of Brazil. The specialty essentially takes smoked pork, sausage and cuts of pig’s feet, tail and ears. Served in a clay pot, a traditional delicacy of countries colonized by the Portuguese is served with white rice, pork rind, flour, cabbage, orange slices and red pepper sauce made with the juice of the beans. As a side order, we recommend a ‘batidinha’ of lemon juice, sugar and cachaça. Softer than the ‘caipirinha’, it is often served as an appetizer before eating the dish. Boteco (pub) food.
Prepared with dough that takes flour, water, cachaça and salt, the ‘pastel frito’ (fried pastry) is a traditional food found in markets, bars, markets and streets of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Espírito Santo. The traditional fillings of meat and cheese are still consumed, but there are others which have been incorporated overtime. In Brazil, the most famous are the shrimp, in Rio de Janeiro, and the cod filling found in the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo.
Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and São Paulo are also famous for coffee production. But the title of Brazil’s largest producer stays in the hands of Minas Gerais state, which accounts for almost half of the national production. The state produces mostly specialty coffees, 100% Arabian,
grown in different soils: South of Minas Gerais, Chapada, Matas and Cerrado. Espírito Santo comes right behind, the main producer of Conilon, grown in the warm areas of the state. A traditional grower of coffee, the state of São Paulo has an exclusive crop of Arábica, produced in the regions of Mogiana and the Midwest of São Paulo.
Southern Brazil has a lower temperature than the rest of the country and houses the Pampas biome. The rich grassland is integrated into the pine forests in three southern states, Paraná (PR), Santa Catarina (SC) and Rio Grande do Sul (RS). The forest offers two ingredients typical of the region: the ‘pinhão’, a seed largely found during the months of May and June. It can be eaten after being roasted or cooked and peeled, and it’s used as the basis for many recipes, mixed with meats, sauces or even in the form of candy. The yerba mate is the basis of
the ‘chimarrão’. In order to have an idea of the importance of these fruits of the forest, you only have to know that Paraná has adopted the branches of ‘araucária’ (Brazilian pine) and the yerba mate as symbols of the state and part of its flag’s decoration.
Anywhere in the country, if you meet a ‘gaucho’ (as they call those born in Rio Grande do Sul), he/she will probably have a thermos for water and a gourd to drink ‘chimarrão’ in their luggage. The habit was acquired by indigenous people in the region and is still deeply rooted.
The more traditional gauchos only drink ‘chimarrão’ following certain rules. It is, after all, a communitarian drink, mandatory for family reunions and to welcome visitors. The person who prepares the drink is also the first one to drink it, because the first yerba mate tea is the most bitter. After you refill the bowl with warm water, it is passed to the next person, who should drink all the water before refilling it and passing it around.
The Southern cuisine shares traditions with its bordering countries - Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay - and which are home to the same biome. The barbecue is the main result of this proximity.
From the big herds of cattle and sheep that graze in the fields of the pampas comes the meat prepared in the form of barbecue. The meal includes parts of various meat and sausages seasoned in salt and baked in the burning coal. The most common side dishes are rice, salad, ‘maionese’ (a dressing consisting of oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and egg yolks), ‘farofa’ of toasted manioc flour and bread. It is typically served a meal for large groups of people, whether family or friends gatherings. In restaurants, it is common the meats to be served in sequence. It’s the so called ‘espeto corrido’ or ‘rodízio’ (a system of service in certain restaurants where barbecued meats or pizzas are offered abundantly, according to the client’s taste).
The families descending from the Italian colonies located throughout the region included in our cuisine the ‘polenta’ (a kind of porridge made of cornmeal), pasta, sausages, chicken consumption, and wines. Some regional cities such as Curitiba (Paraná state) have neighborhoods of Italian tradition with a choice of specialized restaurants. And there are cities that directly originated from Italian colonies as well, such as the city of Caxias do Sul (Rio Grande do Sul state), which makes the traditional Italian cuisine a tourist attraction.
The basic recipe takes ‘fubá’ (a flour derived from corn), water and salt, and can be cooked, griddled or fried. It can be served in portions or as a side dish.
The soup includes chicken breast, seasoning and ‘capelete’.
‘Galeto Al Primo Canto’
The meat of the young chicken is roasted over hot coal.
‘Café da Colônia’
Also called ‘Café Colonial’, this meal is actually of German origin. But it is quite common for visitors to find this option in the cities of Italian origin. In these colonies, the meal can include coffee, milk, colonial bread (homemade), biscuits, cakes, jams, sausage, omelets, ‘polenta’, juices, seasonal fruits and wines.
The Germans maintain the tradition of recipes with pork knuckle, sausages, potatoes and beer. A visit to the city of Blumenau, Santa Catarina state, in the month of October, should include the Oktoberfest, a festival of Germanic traditions. The main attraction is the beer, but other German culinary delicacies are served in the party.
The dish is made with pork knuckle cooked with spices and served with mashed potatoes and sausages.
It’s a sort of cake-bread, which takes various sweet toppings.
‘Café da Colônia’
The colonial coffee of the German cities may include breads, butter, cheese, cakes, sausages, milk, ‘cuca’, pork, pies, preserves, honey, among others.
Found mainly in western Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul’s mountain ranges, it is a white homemade cheese and goes through aging. It’s soft inside, spicy and has a thick crust.
From the expeditions of the ‘tropeiros’, merchants of meat who came from Rio Grande do Sul to the southeastern states, the tradition of tropeira food was created throughout this route. The basis of this cuisine is rice, beans, salted and shredded meat (jerked beef) and common ingredients found on the path. It was important that the food would last throughout the journey - hence the use of dry ingredients and a lot of fat. Bacon, cracklings, manioc and corn flour are served as side dishes.
Other traditional dishes
Found in some coastal cities of Paraná, such as Morretes and Antonina, the ‘barreado’ is prepared at fishermen locations. The basis of the dish is the beef which is cooked for long hours in a clay pot sealed with dough made of cassava flour. The meat is served with the hot sauce over the flour, forming a mush, and mashed bananas.
Sequence of shrimps
In Florianópolis (SC), the shrimp are served in a row in the restaurants around the Lagoa da Conceição.
‘Arroz de carreteiro’
Amix of rice with jerked beef originally prepared by the carter, who used to guide the freight wagons drawn by oxesthroughout Rio Grande do Sul state.
The country has few dishes that could symbolize, alone, the national cuisine, but some sweet dishes can be found in almost all the territory.
This one is considered the authentic Brazilian sweet. It is a mixture of condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter which cooks until it thickens. Then it is wrapped and covered with chocolate sprinkles. Traditionally served at children’s parties, today is found even in stores specialized in candies.
The basic recipe comes from ‘marmelada’, which is a sweet made with quince preserves. It is a sweet like jelly, but it includes the peel and the pulp of the fruit. The guava jam is found with different proportions of pulp and sugar in different consistencies throughout Brazil. The ‘cascão’ (hard shell) kind is harder, for example.
More common in the Northeast, the candy is made from sugar cane juice. It can be consumed in chips, as a dessert, or even used as a sweetener, such as sugar.
An agreement between the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and U.S. President Barak Obama, signed on April 9, 2012 in Washington, foresees the creation of a Brazilian seal of quality and recognition of cachaça as a Brazilian product. This is an important step in order that cachaça can be recognized by the World Trade Organization and become an export product. Cachaça producers demonstrated the manufacturing characteristics of the product to prove that no other beverage follows the same recipe, proving that the drink is different from rum, whiskey and other spirits. Under the agreement it was determined that cachaça is made exclusively in Brazil.
This is a dispute that has lasted for 46 years, but from now on cachaça is to Brazil what champagne is to France and tequila to Mexico. The manufacture of cachaça occurs in all Brazilian States, each with its own specific characteristics. Among the main producer regions, São Paulo, Pernambuco and Ceará stand out, accounting for almost half of Brazil’s production of the spirit. Minas Gerais, Bahia, Goiás, Paraná and Paraíba also make an important contribution.
The most highly awarded distillery is located in Rio Grande do Sul, the Alambique Weber Haus. Cachaça produced here holds 16 medals and beat competition from vodkas and rums in international competitions in which it participated. Rio Grande do Sul has become a region specializing in manufacturing cachaça for export.
As well as the town of Ivoti, home to Alambique Weber Haus, Passo Velho, Dois Irmãos and the traditional wine stronghold of Bento Gonçalves are also important cachaça distillery locations. São Paulo, Brazil’s largest producer, also has excellent cachaça. The ‘Circuito Paulista de
Águas’ is one of the most important representatives of the State, with the towns of Monte Alegre do Sul, Serra Negra, Amparo and Jaguariúna among the highlights. Vale do Paraíba also has excellent small-scale producers, such as those found in the charming town of São
Luiz do Piratininga.
Minas Gerais cannot be excluded from the list of small-scale producers. Minas Gerais cachaça is among the most appreciated by specialists. The town of Salinas is one of the best known for the quality of cachaça produced in its stills. Betim, Araguari Januária and historical cities including Congonhas, São João del Rei and Mariana, among others, are also producers of good quality cachaça.
There are also many small-scale producers in the Northeast of Brazil. The State of Paraíba, in particular the town of Alagoa Grande, usually ranks among the top Brazilian cachaças. The region of the Chapada Diamantina in the State of Bahia is another northeastern representative
of national cachaça production, along with Ibirataia and Abaíra.
The traditional Brazilian drink, caipirinha, is made from cachaça. It is a mixture of cachaça, sugar and fruit. The traditional caipirinha is made with green lemon, but there is a myriad of other choices of fruits (Brazil has more than 300 types of national fruit, including those only grown here). The most popular are caipirinhas made with pawpaw, Cayenne cherry, cupuaçu, jabuticaba, among others. Alongside beer, caipirinha is the popular beverage in Brazil, and is drunk as an accompaniment to the most popular dish in Brazilian households - a good ‘feijoada’ (meat, offal, rice and beans) is never served without a caipirinha. It is also present in bars and clubs in the larger cities. The alcohol content of the spirit varies between 38 and 54 °GL, according to the Brazilian Institute of Weights and Measures.