Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Day's Worth of Eating - Feijoada

It was our first day in Brazil - we flew in overnight and arrived at 8 am that morning. With little more than two cantaloupe slices and a yogurt in our stomachs, we were in search of lunch. We had heard about the "national Brazilian" dish - feijoada - and definitely had it in our plans to try it... We had also heard that it was only served on Saturdays (the day we arrived) and that it was... rather filling. There was one place though that offered feijoada every day - very uniquely named, Casa de Feijoada, so we thought that we could always go the next night... In any case, equipped with no other knowledge than a basic idea of the pronounciation, "fay-zho-a-da," we ended up at Casa de Feijoada that afternoon. We had someone that was showing us around Rio and we asked that he take us to a low key restaurant that served traditional Brazilian fare, with plans to enjoy a churrascaria that night. He dropped us off at Casa.

No worries! We were quite hungry and some solid food would probably be a good plan before our (rainy) journeys to the Corcovado (the Christ statue) and Sugarloaf mountain that afternoon. We were ushered into this surprisingly small and cozy restaurant, to a corner table by the window. Immediately, food started to appear at our table... olives, toast, teeny little pots of black bean soup (the waiter demonstrated that we should be sipping this soup)... soon after appeared scoops of fried little sausages (salami!) (delicious)... and quite soon after (and notably after we ordered our very tall beers), the waiter appeared with two glass bottles. One had an orangey colored liquid in it and the other a pale green. We spied these at other tables, poured into little sipping glasses. The orangey colored liquid turned out to be passion fruit liquor... or the passion fruit version of a mini, high-powered caipirinha. Caipirinha... mmmm. The pale green liquid was "lime" flavored, and the flavor that I normally associated with the delicious caipirinha.

We tried the "traditional" feijoada (although I admit that I don't know what the "non-traditional" feijoada would have included) -- our waiter asked us repeatedly if we wanted it for three people... naturally we thought well yes, we are three people, so we would want three feijoadas. But after we agreed to three, we started to look around at the other tables, and became worried by the sheer amount of food coming to these other tables. Did they also order one for each person? Were they sharing one feijoada amongst five people? By this time, it was too late, because the parade of food began again. To our table appeared white rice, red beans, "collard" greens (bright green cabbage), yuca fries, "farofa" (more on this later), pork rinds, and two large bowls of meat. One bowl contained a medley of meats -- salted pork, sausage, bacon, dried beef, pork ribs... the other bowl also contained a medley of meats, but other parts of the pig... ears, feet, perhaps tail? I generally stuck with the first bowl (I am a bit squeamish about certain animal parts) but my family dove right into the second bowl.

We found the feijoada to be quite tasty (a bit salty...but as you'll see, that's the theme with our Brazilian food experience), but overwhelming in quantity! After feeling slightly tipsy from the "chopp" (beer) and the mini caipirinhas (and very little food for breakfast) and then filling our tummies with pounds of food, we had no idea how we were going to run around Rio's famous mountains all afternoon. Dessert, at least for me, gave me an extra boost of sugar-filled energy... yes, they look like three blobs of unknown origin (or baby food like), but I actually found them very flavorful. My favorite was the dulce de leche (mmm, so happy to find this everywhere in Brazil!) -- this is the bottom one. The others were (I think) banana (left) and papaya (right).
By the time we waddled out of Casa de Feijoada, the restaurant was filled with other guests happily eating away. I can see why this is usually a one-day a week meal... it is an experience within itself and could surely fill you up for an entire weekend and perhaps an entire week.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

We ate here while on our honeymoon. It was a lot of food but we loved it! My husband is half-Brazilian so it reminded him of his mom's feijoada. So fun to read your BRazil posts!!