From delicious salted meaty bites to mouth-watering meals, the street festivals of Brazil are filled with masses of irresistibly flavoursome food. Influenced largely by Portuguese settlers and the migration of African slaves, Brazilian food still maintains its heritage to combine and produce a whole host of delights from a variety of different cultures.
Walking through any street festival in Rio, you are bound to see enormous baskets crammed with Bolinhos de bacalhau or ‘codfish fritters,’ which are largely Portuguese in their influence, but as the Brazilians widely claim to have over 1000 ways of preparing the dish, they now have a firm holding in the traditions of Brazilian cooking.
A popular feature of any birthday party or special occasion, Bolinhos de bacalhau is made from shredded cod and mashed potatoes, which are moulded into balls with garlic, egg, parsley and cayenne pepper, and fried off in hot pan to make tasty little nibbles, perfect for busy party goers and street parades.
Acaraje, a dish of Northeast African influence, is another street festival snack, served in large quantities throughout Rio. Onions, peppers, garlic and black-eyed peas are thrown into a blender with some salt and black pepper and combined to infuse all these fresh flavours. Some flour is then added to the mixture to stiffen up the paste and the whole thing is divided into little balls and fried in palm oil, in much the same way as the Bolinhos de bacalhau. The tasty extra to this sumptuous bite, however, is the filling of sautéed shrimp and golden onions, which is served in dollops on top of every Acaraje split open by hand.
Widely considered to be one of the oldest dishes in Brazil, Moqueca combines Portuguese and African influence in a stew of fresh fish or indeed any seafood, and onions, peppers, and tomatoes, all cooked in coconut milk and African palm oil. A side dish called Pirao in the Brazilian Portuguese language, is also a common accompaniment to the Moqueca, and is basically a fish gravy made from manioc flour stirred into a fish based broth until creamy. This is a uniquely Brazilian dish and has its roots in Brazilian cooking during times of poverty, but is enjoyed by all who visit the street festivals of Rio.
Skewers laden with large slabs of barbecued meat are served on special occasions and in fancy restaurants, and are grilled almost whole while covered in copious amounts of salt for a very strong flavour. However, by far and away the most typical Brazilian dish is Feijoada. This incredible dish incorporates a variety of cooked meats such as pork, bacon, sausage, and jerked beef, all cooked with a black bean stew and served with rice, kale and slices of fresh orange.
For anyone travelling to Brazil who appreciates outstanding multicultural food, these dishes are a priority, and a tribute to decades of the finest Brazilian cuisine.