In this post I am going to write about eating habits in Brazil, I will not present the typical Brazilian foods in detail, that would make this post much longer. Instead, I think I will present most of the Brazilian dishes and candies in separate posts later.
I think that the traditional Brazilian eating habits are much closer to what is considered healthy than European eating habits are. Brazilians have six meals a day, they eat smaller amounts about every three hours. Breakfast is called café da manha, and although it has the word coffee in it, you’d call it like that even if you don’t drink coffee, but most Brazilians do. Brazilians usually don’t eat much for breakfast, the café da manha has nothing to with an English breakfast. Bacon and eggs are not very typical, most typical would be some bakery products, for example pão de queijo (small cheese filled rolls) with coffee or a yoghurt. Lanche da manha or colação is a snack in the morning, between breakfast and lunch, it can be a fruit or some dairy products.
Lunch is called almoço, it is the heaviest meal of the day and is typically rice and beans with some meat. I found it appalling in the beginning, but rice and beans are eaten by most Brazilians every day. I think the fact that there is a type of dish called feijão normal (’normal beans’) already says a lot. Apart from the ’normal’, there are many other ways to prepare the beans, they are not very common, some for example the feijoada are prepared commonly for special occasions. The rice can be simple, or sometimes brown rice (whole grain rice). Rice in Brazil is not as sticky as in Europe or in Asia. The main source variation during lunch is the meat. It is most common to eat beef or chicken, while fish is also common in the coastal regions. I find that the salad options in Brazil are not as broad as in Europe. The regular vegetables consumed in salads are beetroot, carrots, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, tomato and lettuce. Corn is used more often than in Europe, either as part of the garnish or the salad.
Café da tarde is the meal eaten between lunch and dinner. Again, it is called like this, independently from whether one actually drinks coffee or not. Jantar is the Portuguese word for dinner. It normally describes a heavier meal than café da tarde. Some people do not have jantar, and the last meal that they eat is the café da tarde. Foreigners can be misled by the question ‘Are you having coffee or dinner?’ (I know I was). This question does not ask you to choose between a hot beverage and a meal, rather it is asking whether you would like to eat something light, like biscuits or something heavier. Usual options for dinner would be rice and beans, burgers or pizza or a churrasco (barbecue). The South of Brazil is most famous for its churrasco, but barbecuing is fairly common way of families to get together all around Brazil.
Most Brazilians have a siesta after lunch, which means that even people who have to work early in the morning normally stay up until midnight. The meal eaten after dinner is called ceia. Although I heard that Brazilians normally have these six meals a day, I have never met any Brazilian who lived by this as a rule. I think it is very difficult to always carry snacks around and find time for all these meals.
Overall, I think that Europeans would find Brazilian food monotonous. I have mentioned that the main dish is rice with beans basically every day, which I find quite practical. Both are very cheap and can be stored very well. And the re-heated rice and beans are about as good as the freshly made ones. They contain fiber and carbohydrate, so they make a good garnish. So, I can really advocate for eating rice and beans, but I found it strange that people eat it every day. It is so normal for Brazilians, that they think that other countries also always eat the same things every day, and when ‘I am asked what do Hungarians eat?’ I always start listing, that we eat schnitzel, goulash, pasta, potato, all kinds of salads… and in the end I get the question: ‘Ok, but what do you eat every day?’, which shows how different the European and Brazilian mindsets are.
Another thing I found strange about Brazilian food is the lack of seasonality. Since the weather does not change a lot, most of the fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year. The changing of the seasons in Europe means that people have different things to eat in different seasons. In spring we eat strawberries and raspberries, peaches and plums in summer, grapes and pears in autumn and in winter we normally eat imported oranges and bananas. The limited availability of certain ingredients means that there are many dishes that are connected to seasons, for example dishes containing mushrooms are mainly eaten in autumn, fruit soups in summer and winter dishes are usually prepared from vegetables that can be stored for longer time.
Have I missed anything important? Are there more differences between eating habits and food in Brazil and Europe? Is their anything else that you would like to know about? Leave a comment under the post. Até logo (that means see you soon).