We recently celebrated my husband’s birthday by feasting at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian restaurant in Minneapolis. *close eyes, lick lips and savor. Mmmmmm.* A couple friends on Facebook asked what Brazilian food is like. It occurred to me that “Foods we love, from places we have lived” would make an interesting series of blogs. So let’s start with Brazil!
Fogo de Chao spreads a marvelous salad bar to entice you to fill up before the meats begin to come. It includes such treats as palm heart, artichokes, marinated mushrooms, and a mixture of minced onion, green pepper, tomato, parsley and lemon juice that is traditionally served with roasted meat. We asked for other dishes to be brought to our table—rice and black beans, farinha (toasted manioc flour with seasonings), fried polenta, cooked bananas, and melt-in-your-mouth cheese puffs made with manioc flour.
At my first real Mato Grosso churrasco I got to taste brains. The host had dug a pit, shoveled coals into it, added the head and covered it with more coals before burying the whole thing. After an hour or so, they dug it up and pealed back the skin. Someone sliced off a sliver of cheek muscle with the sharp knife everyone brings to a churrasco and offered it for me to taste. Then they cracked open the skull and began scooping out the brains. Brains reminded me of baby food—soft and creamy, but tasting of meat. Brains were not offered at Fogo de Chao.
Next week I’ll post some favorite recipes from our Brazil days. They can be done in a kitchen and do not require a pit or saplings. I promise!