I developed an addiction to pão de queijo, these little balls of tapioca with cheese. For some reason, I found them disappointing when I first tried them in 2002: I think I was still very French and I was expecting real cheese inside, instead of a cheesy flavour. I love them now!
I also love Brazilian empanadas, filled with much more than ham and cheese. I like the yogurts with exotic fruits, the many juice bars, fresh corn on the beach, churros… Brazil also has varieties of bread: pão de milho (corn bread), pão Australiano (dark bread made with three different types of flour), French rolls, avocado bread, coconut bread, banana bread… And the desserts! Rio seems obsessed with bolos, you can buy a slice of these simple bundt cakes—orange, chocolate, goiaba, fubá (corn), aipim (manioc) etc.—pretty much anywhere. If you really feel like it, there are more elaborated cakes and sweet breads, the stickier, the better. In doubt, pick something sabor brigadeiro, a traditional Brazilian doce, a bit like chocolate fudge, made of cocoa, butter and condensed milk.
It’s hard to dislike Brazilian food. Sure, when it’s 40ºC, I don’t feel like eating a hearty stew with rice and beans, but food is plentiful, colourful and cheap and you’re sure to find a snack that keeps you going.
Each city or region has its way of doing things. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo seem to like stuffed croissants, while they were hard to find in Floripa, a city that had tons of different empanadas but fewer kinds of bread. Rio has the most kinds of bolos but São Paulo and Curitiba had amazing profiteroles, and so on.
I can’t think of a food I dislike or that disappointed me… except maybe the misshaped bananas? But I later learned that there were two main kinds of bananas here: banana-d’água (Cavendish) and banana-da-terra (small plantain).