While I may be vegan, I love to delve into the history and preparation of a culture’s iconic dishes—it’s a big part of the reason I so readily accepted the global challenge from my potential employer! That is why I am about to take a deep dive into the meaty, comforting dish known as feijoada. This warm, hearty stew of meat (usually beef and/or pork) and beans (the dish’s name comes from the Portuguese word for beans: feijoa) is known as Brazil’s national dish. Beloved by Brazilians of all classes and regions, feijoada is comfort food at its finest. And if your only experience with Brazilian food is the lavish steakhouses that dot the U.S., you might be surprised at how simple, humble, and soul-warming Brazil’s national dish actually is.
The Origins of Feijoada
As you probably know, I’m a huge history nerd, so I have to explore the history of feijoada. It doesn’t hurt that feijoada has such a fascinating history. And this interesting history is not without its controversy. It has long been believed that enslaved peoples on Brazil’s sugarcane plantations took the scraps of pork (e.g., pig’s feet, ears, and tails) and stewed them in Brazil’s native black beans. However, some contemporary Brazilian scholars maintained that the dish was prepared for (but not by) European slaveowners, given the popularity of cuts like pig’s feet and ears in Portugal, as well as the similarity between feijoada and Portuguese stews like cozido. What we do know for certain is that feijoada was first prepared by enslaved peoples, and that the addition of black beans is entirely Brazilian.
How To Eat Feijoada
As with most dishes, there are several ways to enjoy this classic Brazilian comfort food. Throughout my travels in Brazil, I’ve gathered some pro moves for dining on this delicious dish. For one, feijoada is often served steaming hot, over rice. Brazilian collard greens (Couve a Mineira) are almost always served with feijoada, to the point where the dish seems incomplete without them. Farofa – pan-fried cassava flour often mixed with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and bacon – is a popular topping, while orange slices are a popular garnish. As for drinks (you know I love a good libation with my meal), a rum-like spirit called batida is a traditional accompaniment to a warm bowl of feijoada.
Where To Enjoy Feijoada
Of course, the best place to enjoy feijoada is Brazil itself. The dish is beloved across the country, with slight variations across Brazil’s many different regions. Feijoada can also be enjoyed here in the States, though the big fancy Brazilian steakhouses rarely serve it. If your city is lucky enough to have a humbler Brazilian diner or café, you can be almost certain that it will serve feijoada. Fortunately, this dish is relatively easy and affordable to prepare, as most ingredients can be found at supermarkets. Follow my simple recipe and enjoy this classic Brazilian dish!
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