5 Foods to Try in São Paulo, Brazil

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Brazilians take food seriously. They’re known to spend more than an hour midday working their way through multi-course meals, often followed by visit to a local café. And São Paulo seems to be the country’s culinary mecca. A home for people from around the world, walk São Paulo’s busy streets and you’ll encounter cuisines reminiscent of Japan, Italy, Mexico, Africa, and more.

 

5 Foods to Try in São Paulo, Brazil

 

As one of the world’s largest cities—neck and neck with New York City by most accounts—São Paulo can feel entirely urban with its dominating skyscrapers and dizzying traffic. But step inside a restaurant and you’re likely to be greeted with plates piled with high-quality grilled meats, fresh cut tropical fruits, and welcoming smiles.

While you can find a range of fusion foods and sushi that rivals what you’d find in Japan, there are some Brazil classics that you need to try while visiting the country.

I asked Maya Zimmerman (who can be found online at MarfMom.com), whose mother immigrated to the U.S. from Brazil and still visits family in and around São Paulo, to share some of her favorites.

 

Feijoada

If there’s one quintessential Brazilian meal, feijoada would be at the top of the list. Known as the national dish, this long-simmered meat stew varies slightly in ingredients depending on where your travels take you in Brazil. Maya explains that traditional feijoada starts with a dry meat that’s cooked with pig’s ear (for flavor; the ear is removed before serving), mixed with garlic, onions, and chunks of sausage, the stew is served along with black beans—always black beans—collard greens, and a orange. Often, farofa, a coarsely ground flour from a plant root, is served along side the feijoada.

Feijoada. From 5 Foods to Try in São Paulo, Brazil

 

 

Pao de Queijo

These Brazilian cheese puffs are made with manioc starch, milk, butter, salt, eggs, and cheese. Maya makes her version with the easier to find tapioca flour.

 

Guaraná Antarctica Soda

Passion fruit and guava are just some of the fresh fruit juices you can choose from in São Paulo. But for the national drink of choice, ask for Guaraná Antarctica, a soda made with the juice from a guarana plant (the same one making the rounds in nutritional supplements). Guaraná Antarctica’s popularity rivals Coca-Cola. To get a sense of Brazilians’ devotion to Guaraná Antarctica, check out this video of a promotional effort between fans of the soda and the national team from Costa Rica.
 

Soccer: Brazilian Brand Guaraná Antarctica Vs The Nation Of Costa Rica from MSLGROUP on Vimeo.

 

 

Pastels

Pastry pockets stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients—you’ll find a variety of fillings in Brazilian pastels. Deep-fried to crisp perfection fillings include everything from ground beef and shrimp to cheese or bananas.

 

Brigadeiros

Finish off your national dish of feijoada with the national dessert: brigadeiros. Best described as a Brazilian truffle, the recipe is simply cocoa, sweetened condensed milk, and butter heated together and then cooled. Roll the mixture into balls and then for the most traditional look, cover them with chocolate sprinkles.

Brigadeiros. From 5 Foods to Try in São Paulo, Brazil

 

 

Still hungry? In Brazil, you really should try as much fresh fruit as possible. The abacaxi may look like pineapple from elsewhere in the world, Maya explains the difference this way: “It’s much more juicy and soft and everything pineapple should be.”

These foods are just some of the many that help make São Paulo a culinary destination well worth the trip.

 

 

 

Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and recipes--at MyKidsEatSquid.com.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough, except where noted

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