Local Ingredients in Brazil
Like most aspects of Brazil, Brazilian cuisine varies greatly according to region. The most popular local ingredients used in cooking are root vegetables like cassava (known in Brazil as mandioca, aipim, or macaxeira), yams, peanuts, and fruits like açaí, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, guava, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, and hog plum. In the southern part of Brazil, pine nuts (called pinho) grow in a tree that is extremely abundant. These nuts are a popular national snack and a profitable export.
The European immigrants that entered Brazil were mainly from Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Portugal and were used to a wheat-based diet. They brought in wine, leaf vegetables, and dairy products to Brazilian cuisine. Since potatoes were not accessible, they found out how to use the native sweet manioc as a substitute.
Every region in Brazil has its own type of meals throughout the day. For breakfast, it is most common to see tropical fruits, cakes, tapioca, cuscus, grilled ham-and-cheese-sandwiches, bread-and-butter or jam, coffee, and juices or tea. Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day in Brazil. Rice and beans are essential in the Brazilian diet. They are typically eaten with a protein of some sort, salad, and farofa (a toasted flour of manioc or corn). The afternoon snack (Merenda) is a small meal eaten between lunch and dinner. This commonly involves coffee, tea and chimarro (a traditional South American infused drink) with cookies, cakes or bread. Most Brazilians eat light dinners. Soups, salads, pasta, rice and beans are the most popular dishes for this meal.
Rice and beans, fish, beef and pork are all very popular dishes in Brazil. Other common dishes include caruru (okra, onion, dried shrimp and toasted nuts that are cooked with palm oil), feijoada (a simmered bean-and-meat dish), tutu de feijo (bean paste and cassava flour), moqueca capixaba (slow-cooked fish, tomato, onion, garlic, and cilantro), and lastly chouriço (a mildly spicy sausage). Due to the European influence, lasagna and other pasta dishes are also very popular within the country.
Salgadinhos (cheese buns), pasties, and coxinha (shredded chicken and spices) are popular finger foods in Brazil. A popular dessert is called cuscuz branco, which is milled tapioca. Brazil is very well known for cachaça. This is popular native liquor used in the caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail).
Restaurants in Brazil
A common and typically low-priced restaurant option in Brazil is comida à quilo or comida por quilo restaurants (literally "food by the kilo"). These restaurants are buffets where food is paid for according to its weight. Another popular restaurant style is the “all-you-can-eat restaurant.” This is where customers pay a prix fixe ("fixed price"). In both kinds of self-service restaurants, customers usually take the dishes they want from a large buffet. Rodízio is another common style where a prix fixe is paid, and servers circulate with food. This also occurs in churrascarias, which are all-you-can-eat meat barbecues.