The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, Seth Kugel, set off Brazil-ward for the World Cup. And since he used to live in São Paulo, he knows just what’s up with the place. So we can totally trust his judgment regarding all the essentials in Brazilian food. And of course, all of these pair perfectly with futebol. We’ve settled on five of the most important dishes:
1. Pão de queijo
Ah, cheese and bread. A match made in heaven. But these Brazilian breakfast buns take our two favorite things to a new level. The light and crispy exterior give way to a soft, substantial interior, and – get this – they’re gluten free, since in Brazil, they use primarily cassava or tapioca flour.
This is Brazil’s national dish – basically a bean-based stew with miscellaneous pork trimmings (you know, some feet and noses). But what you’ll get these days, at any respectable restaurant, will be well-equipped with some less-sketch bacon, ribs, and/or smoked sausage and served with and served over rice, farofa (toasted manioc flour), shredded kale, and orange slices.
3. Carne do sol/carne seca
Carne do sol translates to “meat of the sun”, which is just about exactly what it is. It’s sun-cured salted beef – hard and salty on the outside and soft and indulgent on the inside. It’s often served hamburger-style, or baked and with cream. Carne seca is basically Brazilian beef jerky; it’s saltier and left to dry longer than it’s sun-meat counterpart.
These are the Brazilian version of empanadas, but they’re thinner and squarer instead of thoroughly-stuffed half-moons. This is the São Paulo staple.
Picanha is the top Brazilian cut of steak. For the full experience, or essentially a meat-feast extravaganza, head on over to an all-you-can-eat churrascaria, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant, found throughout Brazil.