Brazilian Food, From Açaí to Quindim

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Life is a series of trade-offs. In Argentina, people eat late and there is a nightlife. However, the entire country runs on grilled meat, pizza and pasta, and food can be a bit bland and boring after a while. On the other hand, there is a wider variety in Brazil and food is generally a good value, but lunch is the main meal of the day and restaurants close early (and sometimes, for the whole weekend…).

In an ideal world, I’d eat Brazilian food on an Argentinian schedule.

As soon as we entered Brazil (well, after fucking Chuí…), I met up with old friends again—vegetables. No more ham-and-cheese everything, enter new ingredients—broccoli, carrots, heart of palm, leeks, spinach, etc. Unlike their neighbours, Brazilians don’t think they are going to die if they eat something green and leafy. And cheese isn’t just mozzarella—there is requeijão (kind of like cream cheese), queijo Minas (a soft, mild-flavoured fresh white cheese), ricotta, etc.

Brazil is a huge country and each region has its own distinct cuisine. Many specialities can be discovered at one of the many comida por kilo buffet-style restaurants, but we often miss the opportunity because again, they close early and we generally skip lunch. However, I’m more than happy with “basic” food, i.e. whatever we find at the supermarket plus snacks from lanches (snack bars), confeitarias and padarias (bakeries). Many gas stations also have snacks and they are surprisingly good and fresh (and at least, gas stations don’t close ridiculously early…).

Take bread, for instance. There are dozens of varieties, from pão francês (less dense than baguette but with a crunchy crust) to whole wheat, from bread made with potato, maize or cassava flour or topped with coco to the famous pão de queijo (which isn’t technically bread…). I got addicted to the pão Australiano, a loaf made with cocoa and honey.

Common snacks come in two kinds—fried or assado (baked). Among the fried kind are kibe (bulgur and meat, originally a Middle-East snack), coxinha (shredded chicken meat, covered in dough, moulded into a shape resembling a chicken leg, battered and fried), and pastéis (thin squares of dough filled with veggies and meat and fried). In the asado section, you can get a pastel (like an empanada) of pretty much anything, pão de batata (bread with potato flour) filled with chicken or ham and cheese, empadão (small pies) or giant slices of quiche-like pies, usually filled with chicken or vegetables.

Room for dessert? Brazilians don’t really eat viennoiseries (like facturas, in Argentina) but they are addicted to bolo, cakes often baked in a tube pan giving them a ring shape. Lemon cake, bolo de fuba (cornmeal), bolo de cenoura (carrot cake), bolo formigueiro (chocolate chips), orange cake, chocolate with doce de leite filing (creamy caramel), brigadeiro (chocolate truffle made with cocoa and condensed milk) … And of course, you have doces like quindim (eggs, sugar and coconut) or pastel de Belém (much like an egg tart).

It’s also fruits paradise, with tropical fruits and produce from the Amazonas. Feng eats a mango every night! Açaí is one of the trendiest fruits and açaí na tigela (açaí mixture with bananas and cereal or strawberries and cereal) is very popular (and expensive, relatively speaking).

Okay, you gotta be thirsty. Coffee lovers, good news: coffee in Brazil is cheap and excellent. I mean, even the gas station coffee is awesome. I’ve seen free coffee being offered in hotels and supermarkets as well! Shop, drink, shop, drink… There are also hundreds of fresh juices to enjoy, most of them made with tropical fruits, as well as sugarcane juice and coconut juice.

Feng at a comida por kilo buffet in Pelotas

Ipiranga gas station with a convenience store and a bakery inside, Florianópolis

One of the many “sucos e lanches” (juice bar and snacks) in Florianópolis

Lanche (snack bar) in Florianópolis

Mark enjoying a coxinha de frango in Florianópolis

Sugarcane juice and pastéis in a snack bar inFlorianópolis, Praia dos Ingleses

Passionfruit (maracujá) in a supermarket in Florianópolis

Mangoes in a supermarket in Florianópolis

Avocados in a supermarket in Florianópolis

Bananas in a supermarket in Florianópolis

Carambola in a supermarket in Florianópolis

Passionfruit (maracujá) in a supermarket in Florianópolis

A Lanchonete (snack bar) in Balneário Camboriú

Pastéis (thin squares of dough filled with veggies and meat and fried) in Balneário Camboriú

Coxinhas in Balneário Camboriú

Coconut juice in a lanchonete (snack bar) in Balneário Camboriú

A confeitarias e padaria (bakery, cakes and snacks) in Balneário Camboriú

Free coffee in a supermarket in in Balneário Camboriú


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. ah, I always wonder whether fruits from tropical countries look similar :)) However, the look of passion fruits is a bit different. Here, mostly have orange color. Anyway, a little bit out of topic, have you meet any muslim there? I remember a friend of mine who works for Coca Cola was granted free trip to Rio de jainero during olympic games and when she walked down the street she said people were staring at here since she wears head cover like me.

    • Head scarves are not common here. I saw a couple of women wearing them and I actually almost stared, not because I’ve never seen head scarves but because it’s so rare here! It’s so common in Canada, by comparison, that I can’t even remember who wears it and who doesn’t, they are just part of the people I know. Anyway, in Chui, there was a large immigration population from Palestine, so many Muslims. In Curitiba, I saw a woman wearing a scarf today.

      Interesting question! I’d say the Muslim population here is either very small, either doesn’t like to draw attention and wear the scarf… it’s hard to say.

        • That could be it! I haven’t seen any Halal products either and the diet is heavy on ham and sausage… so that’s another aspect of the culture Muslims may not like but I’m sure there is a Muslim community!

          I have so many questions about the head scarf! Do you mind? Like, when do you put yours on? In the morning, as part of your routine? Do you take it off at home? What does it mean to you to wear it?

          • No, I don’t mind at all.
            Using head scarf for Muslim Female is actually an obligation as it as stated in Al Quran in which, this is what I believe.

            But anyway, it is debatable for some, since some of the Ulama (hmm, it is like the ones who learn Islam more than some of us, they went to Egypt, Oman, Qatar for instance to study more about Islam) said the verse was meant for Arabic people at Prophet Muhammad’s time.
            I think you also aware, not all Malaysian Muslim Female wear hijab, even though this is another country with Islam as majority.

            Basically, ones who may see you without the Jilbab/hijab is your inner family. We call it “Muhrim”. (husband, parent, direct brother or sister. Uncle and brother in law is not considered Muhrim) .
            Yes, of course, I took it off at home but I suppose to wear it if I had male guest at home, but many time I don’t. hahahaha.
            this is the wrong example, though. I’m not really strict to it. 😀

            hope it clarifies a bit.

          • Thank you, it does! For the record, I’m a complete atheist but I have zero issue with people wearing religious signs, including the hijab. I feel differently about the burqua, i.e. being entire covered, I don’t understand this, much like I understand someone wearing a catholic cross on a necklace but I wouldn’t understand sporting a giant tattoo… anyway.

          • oh btw, if you are also wondering, growing beard is considered “Sunnah” for male muslim.
            Sunnah = It is not an obligation, but you better do that. Probably you have encounter with a couple that the madame wears hijab and the monsieur grows the beard.

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