In light of the recent political turmoil that our beloved Brazil has been embroiled in, I would finally like to take this opportunity to discuss…Brazilian food. All students and friends who know me discover quickly that, like many Americans (and Lebanese people), I love to eat. Now that I have been living in Brazil for quite some time, I feel that I can finally do justice in describing some delicious delicacies that one who travels to Brasilia might enjoy trying.
First off, a few tips—there are different degrees, in terms of fanciness, refinement of taste, and diet restrictions that one might benefit from knowing. When searching for something fancy, Brasilia boasts a few seafood restaurants with an excellent, albeit pricey, selection of frutos-do-mar, or seafood. One that I tried in particular, Nau, serves a mélange of sea fare that is fresh, delicious, and extremely pleasing to the palate. Typically I found the seafood to be superior to that of the seafood I tasted in the U.S., and not extremely fattening, either (no deep fried catfish or hush puppies served here)! Another disclaimer: the prices seem extreme, but keep in mind that one dish is expected to be enough food for at least two people.
A next suggestion is to try the famed dish—feijoada—which originated during the slave period of Brazil. It is composed of black beans, pieces of meat (including some nontraditional cuts, which include tail, tongue, and hoof), rice, fried banana, orange slices, farofa, or tapioca flour, and d cooked couve, or wild cabbage. This dish is most famous in Rio de Janeiro, but has become well-known throughout Brazil. In Brasilia, one of the best places to eat this is called Armazem do Ferreira, easily reached by bus, and located in the South Wing neighborhood of the city. One suggestion for eating feijoada is to drink a small shot of caipirinha, an alcoholic drink composed of cachaça (a potent liquor made of sugar cane), lime juice, and sugar—often found in large jugs at these feijoada restaurants. Although the drink is strong, it is tasty, and helps with digesting the heavy meal.
For people in a hurry, or on a budget, there are also other delicious lanche, or snack, options. One of my preferred pit-stops is the rodoviaria, or bus station, located at the heart of the city. Here, for a mere R$2.50 one can indulge in a delicious fried pastel, or puffed pastry stuffed with combinations of cheese and ground beef. Many people love to drink caldo de cana, or sugar cane juice together with the pastel, but personally, this juice is just way too sweet for me! A healthier option is called tapioca. This crepe-looking food is made with tapioca flour (as the name suggests), a very low calorie food, that is either eaten plain with butter, or filled with cheese, ham, jelly, fruit, or chocolate spread such as Nutella. Finally, one of my personal favorites is the frozen açaí, that has become popular as a “superfruit” in recent years in the U.S. Although
I had tasted açaí before coming to Brazil, but I never tasted it in the traditional form that we find here in Brasília—frozen, with banana, granola, and even sweetened condensed milk. Despite my love for this icy goodness, I learned from my students that this food is very high in calories and therefore, eating too much can make you fat—fast!
One last morsel of information is that here in Brasília, there are a plethora of sushi restaurants, crêperies, pizzerias, and most commonly—traditional pay-per-kilo restaurants—featuring Brazilian staples, like beans, rice, salad, and a meat option. Although I like what I have tried so far, I still have yet to test what may be the most famous food in Brazil—the churrasqueria or barbeque house.