If you know me, you know I love my comfort food: it’s probably my favorite type of food, if I’m being honest. That’s why, with this challenge, I wanted to make sure to highlight the comfort foods of the places I visit. Who knows—some of these dishes might even make it to my final menu! One thing I discovered while travelling throughout Brazil is that this country does comfort food right. You can find it everywhere here, from restaurants to cafes to street vendors, to homes. I’ve already covered two of the most classic Brazilian comfort foods: feijoada and pao de queijo. Here is the lowdown on some of the other beloved comfort foods of Brazil.
Just looking at a map, you can tell that seafood is an important part of the Brazilian diet, as the country has about 4,500 miles of coastline. As I discovered during my travels along Brazil’s beautiful coast, many of the most beloved comfort foods here come from the sea. One of the local favorites is a dish called moqueca. Native to the small coastal state of Espirito Santo, moqueca is a hearty fish stew with strong flavors of garlic, tomato, coconut, and coriander. Annatto seeds (which are often used for body painting) give the stew an earthy, red-orange color. The presentation of this stew is comfort itself: it is traditionally brought out in a large steaming pot, a la paella. Like many of Brazil’s best dishes, it is multi-ethnic in origin, with influences from Africa, Portugal, and indigenous Brazilian tribes.
Açaí is certainly having its moment right now: you can find it at just about every juicery and hip breakfast bar in the States. But did you know that this trendy superfood comes from Brazil’s Amazon rainforest? Indigenous Brazilian tribes have been eating the antioxidant-rich berries of the açaí palm long before the dish swept the States. As in the U.S., açaí is a popular breakfast food in Brazil. It is also – as I happily found out – a ubiquitous sight along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, where beachside vendors sell plastic cups full of frozen açaí pulp. These sorbet-like treats can be eaten on the go as a healthy pick-me-up. As a health-conscious vegan, this is a comforting Brazilian dish that I can get behind!
And now for something truly decadent. During my travels in Brazil, I found out about a rich, chocolaty dessert called brigadeiros. This nostalgic treat – thought to have been invented by a confectioner from Rio de Janeiro – is considered the “national truffle” of Brazil. Condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter are rolled into bite-sized balls then covered with chocolate sprinkles, because – let’s face it – a dessert can never be too chocolaty. Often eaten at celebrations (especially birthday parties) this is a comfort food that holds strong memories for most Brazilians. While these tasty treats are usually made in home kitchens, they can also be found in stores throughout Brazil. And don’t worry: I’m working on perfecting my vegan brigadeiro recipe!
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