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Snacks and Sweets to Try in Brazil
Brazil has several typical foods beyond the classic Feijoada that every tourist knows, not to mention Brazilian candies. As a huge country, it is common for some types of food to be found more easily in specific regions of the country. In this article, I decided to mention some common Brazilian foods and sweets that few foreigners know, but that they should definitely try.
Food in Brazil has important symbology. It can be linked to the culture of a region (State), to a religion, or to a national or regional festival/holiday. This means that popular food in the north of the country is often unknown in the south, as well as in the southeast (considered the economic pole of the country). In fact, Brazil has a very large diversity of foods. When we say this, we are also referring to desserts that vary from one region to another. If you find this article interesting, you can be sure that part 2 is on the way. Besides the natural beauties of my country, Brazil will conquer you by hunger!
Pamonha can be described as a type of mush. It was created by the Indians of Brazil, and it is very simple; a sweet corn paste wrapped in a corn husk, containing plenty of coconut milk. It is a popular dessert for children and adults alike.
Pé de Moleque
Pé-de-moleque (Brats foot in English) is a Brazilian sweet made basically with peanuts and ‘rapadura‘ (unrefined cane sugar). It is quite sweet and hard (not recommended for seniors who wear dentures). The size can be small and square or large rounded as it is found in these two sizes.
Paçoca is a candy very similar to Pé-de-moleque, as it contains peanuts as its main ingredient (in addition to sugar and manioc flour). Unlike other candy, it is soft and the peanuts are ground into a paste (firm but not hard). Paçoca is very easily found in supermarkets and at national parties that take place in June in Brazil.
Vitamina de Abacate
In Brazil, the avocado smoothie (in Brazil, we call it ‘vitamin’) is quite common, where it is mixed with milk and sugar. The thick texture can be strange to foreigners (especially North Americans), but for us Brazilians, it is a common smoothie. Despite being a fruit, avocado is not sweet, so it needs to be sweetened, and it can replace a meal. In fact, it’s not one of the tastiest drinks, but it’s certainly healthy, especially for people who exercise.
Pão de Queijo (Cheese bread)
Very common in Brazil, the name Pão de Queijo already describes its basic ingredients. It is most commonly eaten for breakfast, being very popular in Minas Gerais (one of the largest states in Brazil). The appearance of the cheese bread is also interesting: a small, soft and chewy ball, served warm, basically made of cheese and ‘polvilho‘ (cassava starch). Foreign tourists seem to like it a lot. People usually eat it drinking coffee or cold tea.
Coxinha is a “salgadinho” (snack) most popular in Brazil, very common at birthday parties and weddings. Its appearance is a small ball with a pointed end, and the name coxinha is a reference to chicken thigh. The coxinha filling is shredded chicken wrapped in salty dough, some may have cream cheese, as well. In Brazil, there are two sizes of coxinha, the big one sold in street bars, and the smaller ones that are common at parties. It is a snack, breaded and fried, and in terms of health, it may be not very healthy, but it sure is tasty.
Pastel is one of the most popular snacks in Brazil, and like coxinha, it is fried. Its thin dough holds a hot filling, which can vary a lot: minced meat, cheese, shrimp, minced sausage, and even banana (the latter not as popular). Pastel is common throughout Brazil, and most people eat it in bars, beaches, parties, etc. There is also a baked pastry version, but the dough is different and thicker. People usually eat pastels with soda, juice, or even sugar cane juice.
Acarajé is a typical food from the state of Bahia. Its ingredients are mashed beans (in the shape of an oval ball), and it is opened in half and filled with vatapa (a creamy mixture of shrimp and coconut milk, very spicy). Although tourists find Acarajé in different regions of Brazil, mainly at cultural fairs, the original (and tastiest) is in Bahia (mainly in the city of Salvador). It is deep-fried, very seasoned, and tourists generally like it a lot.
Brigadeiro is one of the best-known Brazilian candies in the country and is very popular at children’s birthday parties. It is made from condensed milk, powdered chocolate, sugar, and butter and is shaped like a small ball. There are several stories about the origin of the Brigadeiro, but the best known is that a group of women created the candy to support the presidential campaign of Air Force Brigadier Eduardo Gomes. The word Brigadier, which in Portuguese is called brigadeiro, became the name of the sweet. Its texture is creamy and firm.
The “manjar branco” (coconut pudding) is a traditional New Year’s Eve dinner dessert according to tradition (wearing white clothes in the New Year). It is similar to milk pudding, even has the same rounded shape, but this one is white which means ‘good luck’. Pitted dried prunes are placed on top. Manjar de coco is also used in Brazil as an offering in religions of African origin.
Cocada is a very tasty candy made with coconut and sugar. The “cocada” may be white or black, or made with caramelized sugar, in addition to sweetened condensed milk. It is a very popular sweet in the state of Bahia, but it can be found easily in any part of Brazil. This is just one of several coconut candies.
Now you know some snacks and sweets to try in Brazil the next time you travel there.