All eyes are on Brazil right now, thanks to the 2016 Summer Olympics, and there’s no better time to go all-in when it comes to soaking up a little Brazilian culture from here at home in Vancouver. One easy way to start is to get to known some essential Brazilian food and drink, and where to find them in Vancouver.
Brazilians have a pretty admirable national attitude about what they eat and how they eat it (this article on why Canadians should ignore our own national “food guide” in favour of Brazil’s is pretty compelling). They emphasize minimal processing, decreased use of oils and fats, and advocate mindfulness about where you’re eating, with whom you’re eating, and devoting adequate time to enjoying meals. Sounds pretty fantastic.
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Brazil has a rich culinary heritage that varies from coast to inland, and from region to region, along with a cultural heritage influenced by immigration and diversity. You’ll find European, African, and Amerindian influences in the country’s cuisine. There are a few hallmark dishes, however, and foodstuffs that can be found abroad, for that little taste of Brazil.
Check out these well-known Brazilian foods, and where to find them in Vancouver.
Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha, is made with Cachaça (a native sugarcane-based spirit), sugar, lime juice, and ice. This simple, muddled concoction is almost mandatory for those visiting Brazil. You’ll find this on many bar menus, not necessarily just watering holes dedicated to South American drinks. However, if you find yourself at Baru Latino, be sure to order one there.
Say hello to the Empanadas of Latin American. Pastels are traditional savoury pastries that are deep fried and serve as a speedy lunch option or an anytime treat, really. The variety of fillings are limitless, but one of the most popular combos is ground beef and cheese. Boteco Brasil serves four Pastels to a plate. Enjoy this dish as a starter shared with friends and wash it down with an ice cold Guaraná Antarctica.
This popular Brazilian snack consists of crispy potato-based dough pockets stuffed with shredded chicken and spices. Often likened to chicken croquettes, this dish can be found at Boteco Brasil, where they serve their Coxinhas with a fiery homemade hot sauce. Crunchy and served warm, Coxinhas are even better when accompanied by a pint of beer.
Pão de Queijo
These tiny, cheesey dough puffs are a crowd pleasing staple in Brazil. Sans gluten, these snacks are eaten and enjoyed throughout the day. If you’re looking for a more traditional rendition here in Vancouver head on over to Boteco Brasil where you will find baked parmesan and mozzarella cheese balls served with a side of whipped butter. For a more spruced up version make sure you order a round at Main Street’s El Caminos, where they serve these tasty morsels with sautéed mushrooms, arugula, huancaina, feta cheese, and salsa.
Brazil in rife with churrascarias (steakhouses) and all-you-can-eat BBQ joints, which offer everything from big chunks of beef to chicken hearts. For a taste of Brazilian BBQ head to Rio Brazilian Steakhouse on Denman Street, where they grill huge quantities of meat (beef, lamb, chicken, and pork) on sticks aimed at satisfying the belly.
Feijoada is a Portuguese rice, black bean, and mixed meat stew adapted by Brazilians. This staple dish is eaten across the country, and is often regarded to be the national dish of Brazil. Again, Boteco Brasil whips a hearty version, as does the West End’s Rio Brazilian Steakhouse.
Guaraná Antarctica is a guaraná (a substance prepared from the seeds of a Brazilian shrub) flavoured soda. This carbonated thirst-quencher can be found all over Brazil and is a common go-to for many Brazilians when they need an energy boost. Find this big brand name on the menu at Boteco Brasil and Rio Brazilian Steakhouse, or on the shelves at Los Guerreros Latin Foods out in Langley.
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Address: 689 Denman Street, Vancouver