Food & Cuisine in Brazil
Being such a massive country, it is almost impossible to speak generally about Brazilian cuisine. Rather, it can classified as the cuisine of five main regions, each with their own cultural influences and local ingredients to choose from. Sampling the local cuisine of each of the regions is a great way to see how each areas historical influences have played a part in shaping the cuisine of Brazil. Sometimes you can find great chefs and restaurants located within your Brazil hotel!
One dish which is popular throughout the country is Feijoada, a mixture of black beans, pork and farofa that has been the national dish of Brazil for over 300 years!
This Brazil Food Guide gives an indication of the popular cuisine in the five main regions of Brazil, as well as some background of the history and influences of Brazilian cuisine. Details of the dining scene in specific cities, as well as recommended restaurants, can be found by going to our the individual restaurant guides found in our individual destination sites. And to get more of a feel for the country before going there, be sure to check out our Brazil Shopping Guide, which gives details on gifts and souvenirs you may be interested in.
Brazil Food Guide
North: Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins
This area is collectively known as Amazônia, as it incorporates a sizeable part of the rain forest, as well as a number of the tributaries which flow into the Amazon River. In a cultural sense, this region is largely populated by native Indians, as well as many people with a mix of Indian and Portuguese ancestry. Their diet is made up primarily of fish and root vegetables, such as peanuts, manioc and yams, as well as tropical fruit. Picadinho de Jacaré, a meal made from alligator meat, is a popular dish.
Northeast: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte, and Sergipe
Consisting of a narrow, heavily populated coastal plain with abundant precipitation, another plain called the Agreste and the expansive, semi-arid area called the Sertão, which is comprised of vast cattle ranches, this region has quite varied cuisine. The tropical climate of the coast is excellent for growing produce such as cacao and sugarcane.
The state of Bahia shows it's heavy African influence in it's food, and many of the dishes have evolved from plantation cooks experimenting with traditional Indian, African and Portuegues dishes using the local ingredients. Seafood and beans are two staples of this region
Central-West: Federal District of Brasilia plus Goiás, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul
This region is made up mostly of dry, open plains, with a wooded area in the north. The Pantanal, one of the most famous hunting and fishing regions in the world, is located within this region. Beef, fish and pork are all common, as are things such as rice, maize and soybean.
Southeast: Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo
This region is the economic and industrial heart of Brazil. It encompasses its two biggest cities, and is also home to some of Brazil's best known cooking styles. Fejioada, a simmered meat and bean dish that is widely regarded the national dish of Brazil, has its origins in Rio de Janeiro. Virado à Paulista is especially popular in São Paulo, and consists of rice, a manior flour and bean paste, collard greens and pork chops.
The European influence is especially heavy in this region, with immigrants arriving from Portugal, Germany and Italy, amongst others, all contributing their traditional flavours. There are also distinctive Middle Eastern and Japanese influences as well.
South: Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul
The south is the home of the gaucho, the Brazilian cowboy of the pampa, and has contributed sun and salt dried meats, as well as the churrasco, the universally popular Brazilian version of the barbecue, with a variety of fresh, flame grilled meats.