Brazilian eateries serve some of the biggest portions on the planet, and many plates are designed for two. It's hard to go hungry, even on a modest budget. The basic Brazilian diet revolves around arroz (white rice), feijdo (black beans) and farinha (flour from the root of manioc or cassava). The typical Brazilian meal, called prato feito (set meal, often abbreviated `pf in restaurants) or refeifdo, consists of these ingredients plus either meat, chicken or fish and costs US$2 to US$4 in most eateries.
Another good option for travelers is the por quilo (per-kilogram) lunch buffet. You pay by the weight of what you serve yourself: typically around US$7 per kilogram, with a big plateful weighing around half a kilo. Perkilo places are good for vegetarians too, but go early for lunch: many places start serving around 1 L30am, and by 2pm there may not be much left. The fixed-price rodizio is another deal, and most churrascarias (meat barbecue restaurants) offer rodizio dining, where they bring skewers and skewers of meat to you, till you can eat no more.
In many restaurants frequented by tourists, overcharging and shortchanging are almost standard procedure. It's all part of the game. They good-naturedly overcharge and you can good-naturedly hassle them until the check is fixed. They're used to it.
Despite many similarities there are regional differences in Brazilian cuisine. The comida baiana of the northeastern coast has a distinct African flavor, using peppers, spices and the delicious but strong oil of the dende palm tree. The Amazon region offers some unique and tasty varieties of fish (including piranha!). Rio Grande do Sul's comida gaucha features much meat. Common Brazilian dishes include the following:
Acai An Amazonian fruit with a berrylike taste and deep purple color. Ground up with crushed ice, it makes a great, sorbetlike dish to which you can add granola, ginseng, honey etc.
Acaraje Baianas (Bahian women) traditionally sell this on street corners throughout Bahia . It's made from peeled brown beans, mashed in salt and onions, and then fried
in wonderful-smelling dende (palm) oil. Inside is vatopb, dried shrimp, pepper and tomato sauce.
Barreado A mixture of meats and spices cooked in a clay pot for 24 hours, it's served with banana and farofa. It's the state dish of Parana .
Bobo de camarao Manioc paste cooked and flavored with dried shrimp, coconut milk and cashews.
Caldeirada Stew with big chunks offish, onions and tomato.
Came do sol Tasty salted beef, grilled and served with beans, rice and vegetables.
Caruru One of the most popular Afro-Brazilian dishes, this is prepared from okra or other vegetables cooked in water, plus onions, salt, shrimp, malagueta peppers, deride oil and fish.
Casquinha de carangueijo or siri Stuffed crab, prepared with manioc flour.
Cozido A stew usually made with many vegetables leg potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and manioc).
Dourada Scrumptious catfish found throughout Brazil .
Farofa Manioc flour gently toasted and mixed with bits of onion or bacon; it's a common condiment.
Feijoada Brazil 's national dish, this pork stew is served with rice and a bowl of beans, and is traditionally eaten for Saturday lunch. It goes well with caipirinhas.
Frango a passarinho Small chunks of crisp fried chicken make a delicious tira-gosto (appetizer or snack).
Moqueca A stew flavored with dende oil and coconut milk, often with peppers and onions. The word also refers to a style of covered clay-pot cooking from Bahia : fish, shrimp, oyster, crab or a combination can all be done moqueca-style.
Pato no tucupi Very popular in Para, this roast duck dish is flavored with garlic and cooked in the tucupi sauce made from the manioc juice and jambu, a local vegetable. Peixada Fish cooked in broth with vegetables and eggs.
Peixe a delicia Broiled or grilled fish, usually prepared with bananas and coconut milk. Prato de verao Literally 'summer plate,' basically a fruit salad - served at many juice bars in Rio .
Sanduich Covers a multitude of inexpensive bites from the X-tudo (hamburger with everything) to the dependable misto quente (toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich). Sanduiches are a mainstay of lanchonetes (snack bars).
Tacaca Indian dish made of dried shrimp cooked with pepper,jambu, manioc and much more.
Tucunare Tender, tasty Amazonian fish.
Tutu a mineira Black-bean feijoada, often served with couve (a type of kale).Typical of Minas Gerais.
Vatapa Perhaps the most famous Brazilian dish of African origin, a seafood dish with a thick sauce made from manioc paste, coconut and dende oil.
The incredible variety of Brazilian fruits makes for some divine sucos (juices). Every
town has plenty of juice bars, often offering 30 or 40 different varieties at around US$1 for a good-sized glass.
Cafezinho (coffee), as typically drunk in Brazil , is strong, hot and sweet. It's served as an espresso-sized shot with plenty of sugar but no milk. Caufezinho is taken often and at all times. It's sold in stand-up bars and dispensed free from large thermoses in restaurants and at hotel receptions.
Refrigerantes (soft drinks) are found everywhere and are cheaper than bottled water. Guarana `champagne,' made from the fruit of an Amazonian plant, is about as popular as Coke. It's cold, carbonated and sweet, and the fruit has all sorts of supposedly marvelous properties, so you can tell yourself it's healthy too!
The two key alcoholic drinks in Brazil are cachafa (more politely called pinga), a highproof sugarcane rum, and cerveja (beer). Cachafa ranges from excrementally raw to tolerably smooth, and is the basis of that celebrated Brazilian cocktail the caipirinha. Of the common beer brands, Antarctica and Brahma are generally the best. Chopp (shoh-pee) is pale blond pilsener draft beer, and stands pretty much at the pinnacle of Brazilian civilization. Key phrase: `Mofo, mais um chopp!' ('Waiter, another chopp!').