Eating in Rio rates as highly as its sultry beaches, vibrant neighbourhoods and catchy dance moves. With culinary roots in African, Amerindian and European traditions, the flavour profile of Brazil’s capital poses an exuberant mix that must be tasted to be believed.
A true staple in Brazilian culture, the churrascaria is ingrained in the local way of life. A type of all-you-can-eat steakhouse (or rodizio), this is the place to go for a feast of skewered meats cooked Brazilian BBQ style. Rio is brimming with churrascarias. Ranging from cheap to fancy, allow yourself time to pace yourself through this iconic dining experience originating from the gaucho lands in Brazil’s south.
It’s one of the few dishes that you’ll find in every corner of the nation and it deserves a spot on every traveller’s to-eat list. Introduced by the Portuguese in the mid-1500s, feijoada is a hearty stew of black beans, sausages and various cuts of pork, served on rice with fresh slices of orange which perfectly cut through the richness. Done traditionally, it takes up to 24 hours to make.
Pastry lovers won’t be able to get enough of the local pastels – the perfect salty snack for a fast-food option on the run. Otherwise, sit down and share a plate just like the locals do. These delicious steaming hot pastry pockets come filled with cheese, meat or palmito (heart of palm).
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The best way to cool down at the beach? With a sacole. The favourite ice cream of choice, they’re similar to popsicles but without the stick. There’s usually a sweet variety of flavours to choose from, including a few exotic ones you won’t find at home: chocolate, strawberry, banana, passionfruit, coconut and acai, a red berry from the Amazon.
Enjoy a crepe with a difference. Made of cassava flour and shredded coconut, this tapioca mixture is fried into a crepe-like dish that’s both gooey on the inside and wonderfully crunchy on the outside. It can be served savoury, with a cheese or chicken filling, or sweet, with cinnamon, banana or condensed milk. Either way, it’s the perfect breakfast dish to kick off a day’s adventures.
The cheese-lovers out there won’t be able to resist queijo coalho. This popular snack is literally a chunk of firm, salty Brazilian cheese that’s barbequed on skewers and served with a garlic or molasses sauce.
It’s not quite food, but Caipirinhas are the national cocktail. Dessert perhaps? Made with a fiery liquor made from sugar cane, lime, sugar and ice, it is refreshingly tasty, while both sharp and sweet. You’ll find caipirinhas on cocktail menus all over Rio.
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