The açaí is perhaps the best-known of all the Amazon’s fruits thanks to its superfood status. The hard purple berry is traditionally used as a source of energy by the indigenous tribes, it is also used as a sauce to accompany fish in Amazonian cooking. A 1980s clever marketing campaign thrust the açaí into the spotlight as the energy snack of choice for the surfers in Rio de Janeiro. Served as a gloopy, frozen, sweet sorbet, sometimes whizzed up in juices, or topped with granola or slices of banana, it can be found in every supermarket, bakery, café, and juice bar across the country. Even açaí vodka and açaí beer are available.
Feijoada is one of the few dishes which are eaten the length and breadth of Brazil. It is a hearty stew of sausages black beans, and cuts of pork of various qualities – traditionally veering towards the lower end, with ears and trotters all adding to the mix. It takes up to 24 hours to make feijoada by the old fashioned way, including desalting the pork and soaking the beans. Most Brazilians go out to bars and restaurants to eat feijoada and traditionally, this dish is eaten on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Kale, rice, orange slices, pork scratchings, and farofa (toasted manioc flour) are served on the side with a tipple of cachaça to ease digestion.
The beer that is served very cold with chunks of ice stick to the bottle is the drink of choice in Brazil. And an assortment of fried foods creates the perfect pairing, for example, crunchy batons of manioc or bolinhos (also named ‘little balls’, often made with salt cod), pastéis (deep-fried parcels of crisp pastry filled with minced beef, creamy hearts of palm, or melting cheese). Coxinha (also named ‘little thigh’) is another popular choice. It is made with mashed potato and shredded chicken, covered in golden breadcrumbs, and shaped like a very voluptuous thigh.