What I Ate In Brazil: the Good, the Bad, and the Totally Gross
“Romeu e Julieta” in Curitiba. Romeo and Juliet, or guava paste and fresh white cheese, is a typical Brazilian poor man’s dessert. Both ingredients can be found at any grocery store for very cheap. While outside of South America quince-like pastes are used to dress up a cheese platter, guiabada (or guava paste) is apparently only consumed if you can’t afford anything else. So if you happen to like this sort of thing, you’re in luck because they are practically giving it away in Brazil! (Also, pictured: salmon, cream cheese, chives, and honey mustard dill sauce.)
Brigadeiros, all over Brazil. My Brazilian cousin-in-law tells a story of when she first learned about American birthday traditions: a cake with candles, party favors, paper hats… she waited and waited to hear the word that she associated most with birthdays. When the speaker came to the end of his description, she was aghast. What a miserable existence American children must face without a heaping tray of birthday brigadeiros! And once you’ve tried one of these simple treats, nothing more than sweetened condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder rolled into little balls and topped with chocolate sprinkles, you’ll agree that your life up until that moment had been incomplete. The best ones we had were at the ritzy chocolate shop Passion du Chocolat in Curitiba and the cozy Confeitaria Cafehaus Glória in Blumenau.
Garlic Picanha in a Brazilian Steakhouse
No visit to Brazil is complete without a trip to a churrascaria, the ubiquitous Brazilian steakhouse. And no trip to a churrascaria is complete without trying the picanha. Arguably the best cut, picanha is awkwardly termed rump steak in British English, and top sirloin in American English. Alone, it’s incredible, but encrusted in coarse salt and garlic…suffice it to say that that piece of meat pictured above was some of the best in my life. And I grew up on a cattle farm in Virginia and lived on steak tartare for two years in Paris, so that’s saying something…besides what it already says about my great iron levels!
Freshly squeezed Cane Juice on Floripa.
2.5o reais will get you a frothy cup of freshly squeezed cane juice on Florianópolis. Add a little fresh lime, and this drink will transform even the staunchest of carbophobes into a total sweet tooth. Just check afterwards that none of your teeth have rotted out from all that sugar.
Calamari on Floripa.
Some say that deep-frying good seafood is the best way to destroy it. I say that if you’ve got delicious fresh seafood to begin with, than battering it up and throwing it in the deep fryer could only make it MORE delicious. For more pictures and information about this incredible meal, check out my article “Lunch by the Lagoon, Floripa”.
Raw Oysters on Floripa
If you’re not going to eat it battered and deep fried, then you might as well eat it totally unadulterated. These raw oysters at Ostradamus restaurant were meaty, juicy and still a little salty from their life in the sea (where they had been until that morning). Normally I won’t eat an oyster without a generous drizzling of red wine vinegar and onion, but these were so flavorful I happily slurped them plain.
THE BAD AND THE TOTALLY GROSS:
Microwave-ready frozen lasagna in Foz do Iguaçu. Hey, you can’t eat steak dinners every night when you’re on the road.
Chocolate candy, whipped cream, and maraschino cherry topped cake in Joinville. We stopped at the German inspired Holz Hotel for their breakfast buffet on the way from Curitiba down to Florianópolis. Points should be awarded to the hotel for trying to cater towards your typical German sugar fiend, but this was over the top. I mean, this thing could be a stunt double for Buddy the Elf’s spaghetti/pop tart/ maple syrup breakfast.
Caloric Freakshow in Gramado. I won’t delve into the dirty details of this monstrous dish again (because I’ll probably barf) but if you want to read about it please refer to my previous article.