Eating and drinking in Rio de Janeiro

Finally the time has come for us to share some of the Brazilian delights with you. During these few weeks we managed to try the following delights:

Food

Feijao

Definitely our favorite food in Brazil. “Feijao” is portuguese for “beans”, so when you ask for that in eateries you get a black bean stew-like dish, always served with rice. You then get to add meat, vegetables, eggs or salad to it, according to your preference and their availability. It’s staple food for them and they eat it with their every meal. In the poorer parts of Brazil, towards the North, the people often don’t have the money to eat both the rice and the beans, so they eat only one of the two, usually the beans.

As we moved north-west from Rio the scenery changed, and together with it the taste and price of the feijao. It became cheaper and tastier (fos us at least).

We found out the Feijao came to Brazil together with the African slaves. The locals are very proud of the black and white dish as to them it is a symbol of the harmony between the two races.

Feijoada

A dish of feijao that looks and is served exactly like the stew I mentioned, but the stew is cooked with meat inside. That meat is usually what we’d consider left overs (insides, skin) and that tradition comes from the times of the slaves, when they would put in their food the left overs from the owners’ food. Many feijoada makers keep this tradition and would argue any day that’s why it tastes so good.

We were surprised to realise that In Sao Paulo feijoada is only served on Thursdays and Saturdays, as these are the original feijoada days. So if you want a taste of it make sure you’re there one of these days. In Rio we did not notice this custom but it’s very likely it’s there as well.

The locals usually eat Feijao with rice and meat for 5-9 Reias (depending on location) at local eateries or go to the famous Brazil BBQ places where food is served by kg (40 Reias/kg in Rio and around, and cheaper as you go further east, down to 25Reais/kg). Some places are the traditional buffet ones, where you can pay a fixed amount and eat as much as you want. Whichever way you look at it, eating our is not cheap in Brazil, especially in Rio.

Acai

A very healthy dark purple berry. You can find it at almost every corner. Usually they don’t eat the plain fruit, but blend it with honey, flakes, oats, protein, chocolate chips, strawberry sauce and a million other things you can imagine, creating a refreshing shake. Our favorite by far was the Super Bomba (7 Reias a large glass), introduced to us by Morgan on the way home one morning after a long yet awesome night in Lapa. It’s supposed to give you lots of energy and we loved having it instead of coffee after that, as often as our budget allowed it :).

Suko

Freshly squeezed fruit juice, also available at every corner. Deliciousness!

Vitaminas

A special fruit shake with extra vitamins (3-5 Reias) In some places it’s better than in others, make sure you ask if they make it with fresh fruit.

On almost every corner in Rio there’s a small 24/7 kiosk that sells acai, vitaminas, suko and sandwiches. We were wondering how come this protein and extra vitamin culture is so big here, and then one day, while people watching, we figured it out: the brazilians love to stay fit and healthy, so going to the gym or running on the beach is followed up with some healthy energy drink in these kiosks. Looking good is quite big here, but while we could tell that many guys were making an effort to stay fit, we couldn’t really say the same about the ladies.

Tapioca

Tapioca is a flour made from mandioca, a white root that is very popular in South America and Asia. Tapioca pancakes are being sold in the streets and they are really filling and delicious. You can choose to fill them with cheese, banana, chocolate, coconut or meat. Our favorites were the cheese & coconut and banana & cinnamon ones. We even invented a couple: cheese, coconut and cinnamon, which turned out really good, and banana, cinnamon and cheese, combination which unfortunately didn’t work so well. They’re very nice in accommodationg your wishes though, so feel free to experiment. It’s 3 Reias each, quite worth it considering the prices in Rio:).

Sweet popcorn

The corn culture is as present as in other parts of South America, with pop-corn being sold on the everywhere on the streets.

Drinks

Beer

Beer drinking is huge in Brazil, and some people can drink more beer than water in a day. Bohemia is one of the most popular Brazilian beers (our favorite), and also one of the more expensive: 2 Reias a 330ml can in the store and 4 Reias in small bars. Other common brands are Antarctica 1.2 – 4 Reias, and Skol. In the restaurants most of the beers come in 1L bottle, at 4-5 Reais each – much more cost-effective :).

Casasha

The famous Brazilian drink (local name: Pinga) is nothing else than sugar cane rum that has a strong brandy-like flavor. Every August there’s a Pinga Festival in Parati (near Rio), where the brave ones can try all the different flavours of Casasha. Boca’s favourite was the cinamon & clove one, which tasted like a Christmas cake ☺

Caipirinha

The cocktail made of Casasha, which besides the rum contains ice, sugar and lime. There are other less common yet equally delicious flavours as well, such as maracuja, kiwi, pineapple or watermelon.

You will also hear of Caipiroska, which is the Caipirinha with vodka instead of Casasha. If you are outside of Brazil and see Caipirinha on a menu, make sure you ask if it’s made with suger cane rum or something else. Many times they use the name Caipirinha but put other liquors inside, so the real taste of the Caipirinha is spoiled.

This drink quickly became our favourite cocktail. When going out it’s usually 6-7 Reias a glass, but you can easily prepare it at home as well and come out much cheaper. The Brazilians say it’s the cheapest way of getting drunk because of it’s high concentration of alcohol and ridiculously low price (1L of Casasha costs not more than 5 Reias in supermarkets). A word of advice – take it easy with it as it gets to you before you know it!

 

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