Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can't wait to eat my way through Brazil

My friend Andrew Hecht shared some tips about his favorite Brazilian cuisine and got my mouth watering (Vegetarians, beware):

(1) Juice Bars. Every one of them puts Jamba Juice to shame. Not only cheaper and fresher, but filled with fruits from the Amazon that you've never heard of. Amazing! I highly recommend drinking as much mamao com leche (papaya milkshake) as you can stomach.

(2) Churrascaria. Churrascaria is what all steakhouses want to be when they grow up. It's an experience you can't miss. If you can find one where they mix caiprinhias tableside, all the better.

(3) Feijoada. This is the Brazilian national dish. It's a conglomeration of black beans and pork bits served with kale and manioc flour. It was originally a dish eaten by slaves and so traditionally comes with some pork "offcuts." If you're not into snouts and ears, try it at a slightly westernized place first.

If you go to Rio, visit Copa, Ipanema or Leblon and you will experience what has to be the best beach food scene in the world. While you soak up the sun and people-watch, a stream of hawkers selling all sorts of edibles makes their way up and down the beach with. Various vendors will offer:

- Coolers full of sandwich fixings for custom sandwiches

- Mini-grills to fire up skewers of shrimp or cheese with oregano or calamari

- Baskets of abacaxi (pineapples) that they will slice and dice open

Plus, vendors sell cold drinks, ice cream, grilled corn on the cob, ice cold coconuts. If you don't find anything you like, there are kiosks every couple of hundred feet selling all sorts of tasty treats. I don't know how people there stay in such great shape will all those temptations around, but somehow they manage.