The cuisine of Brazil, like Brazil itself, varies greatly by region. This diversity reflects the country’s mix of native Amerindians, Portuguese, Africans, Italians, Spaniards, Germans, Poles, Syrians, Lebanese and Japanese – which has created a national cooking style marked by the preservation of regional differences.
The national dish of Brazil is feijoada; a meat and black bean stew rooted in the ingenuity of African slaves working in the plantations of colonial Brazil.
The cuisine of the North region, which includes among others the states of Amazonas and Pará, is heavily influenced by indigenous cuisine. Within the state of Bahia the predominant cuisine is Afro-Bahian, which evolved from plantation cooks improvising on African, Indian and traditional Portuguese dishes using locally available ingredients. The Southeastern region, comprising mainly of the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, is the industrial heart of Brazil, and home to several distinctive cooking styles for which Brazil is probably best-known.
Generally, rice and beans is an extremely popular dish – considered basic at table; a tradition Brazil shares with several Caribbean nations.
Salgadinhos are small savory snacks. Similar to Spanish tapas, these are mostly sold in corner shops and a staple at working class and lower middle-class familiar celebrations.
Pastéis are small half-moon shaped pastries with a wide variety of fillings – sometimes also shaped big and in a squared form.
Açaí and many other tropical fruits are shipped from the Amazon all over the country and consumed in smoothies.
When it comes to eating out, a simple and usually inexpensive option, which is also advisable for vegetarians, is comida a quilo or comida por quilo restaurants – where food is paid for by weight. Another common style is the all-you-can-eat restaurant where customers pay a prix fixe. In both types customers usually assemble the dishes of their choice from a large buffet.
As for drinks, cachaça is Brazil’s native liquor – distilled from sugar cane. Cachaça is the main ingredient in the national drink; the delicious Caipirinha. Limes (or lemons) and sugar are the other two ingredients in this refershing drink – which is popular worldwide.