Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Foods of Brasil--Breakfast

Photo 1: Cafe da manha (Breakfast)
Photo 2: Pao de Queijo
Photo 3: Pastels

I know I’m supposed to keep my blog entries to a couple of paragraphs, to maintain interest, so I’ll write three blogs today at different times of the day.

Today’s subject will be Foods of Brasil, and I’m starting with breakfast.

When I was planning my first trip to Brasil, what I remember being the most worried about was not crime, or disease, or language barriers. I was worried about whether or not I’d be able to eat Brasilian food. I’m not one who easily adapts to new foods, and I find it hard to conceal my disgust when an unappetizing dish is set before me. I’ve been known to actually cry because I was “obligated” to eat something a friend made or a dish served to me in a restaurant that my “friend” told me was “out of this world.” Yes, out of Venus maybe. But I digress…

I could not have been more wrong. The food in Brasil, whether in a restaurant or at a friend’s table or at a roadside luncheonette, is fabulous…always…no exceptions…I’m not joking!

Breakfast always consists of four main things…crusty French rolls, several types of sausages, lunchmeats and cheeses, various baked goods, and fruit. Brasilians make a sandwich with the rolls and usually have coffee and juice with it. Without exception, there always seems to be fresh sliced papaya at the table. It is good for digestion. And never seems to be out of season, even in winter. The juices they serve are a bit different from America’s standard of orange juice. They do serve orange juice, but it usually is mixed with some exotic fruit, and then there is passion fruit juice, star fruit juice (I forget what they call that), grape juice, and even watermelon juice. I guess any fruit that they can squeeze liquid out of, they serve as juice. In addition to that, they have regular yogurt and a couple of flavors of yogurt drinks. Suffice it to say, breakfast in Brasil starts the day off beautifully.

For Brasilians on the go, breakfast is usually more meager, consisting of strong black coffee and a little pastry called pao de queijo (pone deh kayjo), which is a salty cheese bread made from yucca flour instead of wheat, with strong flavored cheese mixed in.

Another food eaten on the run is a pastel, which is a meat or fruit filled fried pie…the dough is a bit different from our pie crust, and it is deep fried, not baked. You can find pastels at any street vendor or corner lanchonete (lunch-o-net-tee), even in grocery stores.

One interesting thing about Brasilians that I noticed is that they rarely mix what they call “sweet” and “salty” foods together at a meal. For instance, fruit sauce with meat is a big no-no. If a Brasilian is eating a pastel filled with ground beef, they would not follow it with a pastel made with banana and cinnamon filling. They separate their foods. They will eat the salty foods first, wait a little while and then maybe have some fruit, if at breakfast, and dessert, if at lunch or dinner, but always with a pause between and never on the same plate. Speaking of dessert, I’m gonna devote a whole page to dessert today or tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Till then, ciao!