Feijoada, a Brazilian Speciality Dish: Food of Brazil

Thu, Nov 29th 2007, 00:00

Feijoada is without a doubt one of the national dishes of Brazil.

Feijoada originated on the plantations, inspired by the traditional bean stews of the Southern European countries, like cassoulet in France and traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes (cozidos).

However, it was in Rio de Janeiro that the dish made its name. Today, "feijoada carioca" (carioca is the name of those born in the city of Rio de Janeiro) is seen as the true feijoada.

Feijoada is a stew made of black beans, with chunks of salted beef and pork, prepared over slow fire in a thick clay pot. Feijoada purists believe that a real feijoada ("uma feijoada legitima") should contain every part of the pig – this would include the pig's ear, tail or snout!

Traditionally served with rice or lighly roasted manioc (cassava) flour, feijoada would probably be accompanied by "couve mineira" (collard or mustard greens cut in very thin strips and fried at the last minute in oil, garlic, and bacon). Perhaps it would also be served with "fatias de laranja" (orange slices) as the citric acid in the oranges is also supposed to counteract the fat in the pork.

The meal is then topped off with what is lovingly referred to as Romeu e Julieta, a side dish made up of "queijo mineiro" (a special soft cheese from the state of Minas Gerais) and a slice of goiabada, a dark sweet guava paste.

Because of the high fat content in the true feijoada, Brazilians believe that it must be watered-down with a caipirinha, a mixture of lime juice, sugar and cacha‡a or pinga (a strong liquor derived from sugar cane).

Since feijoada it is a rather heavy dish that takes several hours to cook, it is consumed only occasionally, usually at lunch time. Most Brazilian restaurants, from the humblest inner-city lanchonete to the sophisticated hotels lining the Fortaleza, Salvador and Rio shores, designate specific days in which feijoada is served at lunch time as o prato do dia, special of the day.

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