The Brazil mix

The Brazil mix

By
Fernanda de Paula, Shelley Hepworth
Contains
12 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742706801
Photographer
Stuart Scott

Brazil is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It’s a huge mishmash of ethnicities and cultures like nowhere else on the planet. It wasn’t planned and can never be repeated, but somehow it has been incredibly successful. Ask an immigrant about their cultural identity and, no matter their native language or country of origin, they’re apt to call themselves simply and proudly ‘Brazilian’.

To give an example of how many cultural ingredients have gone into this pot, Brazil is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, has more people of Lebanese descent than in Lebanon and contains whole towns that are variously German, Ukrainian or Polish.

At the time the Portuguese arrived, they were adapting themselves to the influences of their maritime expeditions abroad and Brazil reaped the benefit. Imported products such as sausages, olive oil, cheese, tomatoes and rice were combined with native ingredients and techniques to create a new and unique mix. Spices such as coriander and cinnamon that were picked up in Asia and the Middle East became part of everyday life.

The state of Bahia, arguably the beating heart of Brazil, has a rich African heritage with some eighty per cent of the population boasting African blood. The advent of the sugar plantations saw the largest influx of African slaves the world has ever seen – around three million between the early 1500s and late 1800s. They introduced bananas, coconut and the dendê palm, modifying dishes and exerting their influence in the kitchens of the colonisers. They were the first to combine Indigenous, Portuguese and African traditions, creating the Brazilian cuisine you see today.

The world-famous technique of smoking and roasting meats on skewers over open flames was used by the native Indians, but it wasn’t until the Portuguese began raising cattle imported from Asia and Africa that it really took off. Churrasco, the Portuguese word for barbecue, originates from the Gaúcho cowboy culture found in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, home to the cattle ranchers. Nowadays you’ll find churrasco barbecues built into homes all over Brazil, and the fire is lit most Sundays when family and friends are invited over. It’s a simple yet artful tradition and, along with the correct preparation, seasoning and slicing, success depends most on knowing the exact moment to remove the meat from the heat.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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