Over the nearly 3 years of blogging about Brasil and other places that we have visited, the topic of food has come up often. Camillo is Italian with the Italian attitude towards eating and I am an American who learned to cook back in grade school…. eeekkKKK… and enjoy it, so food is important to us. Along with the Friday shoot-out about food in April of 2009, I have written 12 other posts about Brazilian Food. I have also talked about how hard it was to relearn to cook when we moved here. (Teaching an old cook new tricks?) For example, I have always cooked using mostly fresh ingredients, but you can’t learn to cook in the USA without finding a call for a can of this or can of that in a recipe. And here a can of chicken broth cannot be found, so I make my own broth now and keep some frozen at all times for use soups/rosoto/and other dishes. Here baking soda is Bicarbonato de Sódio and baking powder is Ferment em Pó Quimico and it has taken me a long time to figure out these ingredients and to slowly add new dishes to my family's menu. Right now I am making a chicken soup and for the first time (here) am trying to make dinner biscuits for lunch. The soup will be delicious but the biscuits – I don’t know. Okay enough – this really is about MY Town's menus.
In the many place we have visited inside and outside of Brasil, I have notice that menus often have the same basic items. In Brasil food is divided by region but the same thing holds true. In Rio and in Friburgo upscale restaurants, which are often Italian or Portuguese-like foods, generally have menus that include Couver, appetizers, meats, fish and pastas and finally sobrmesa (deserts). Couver is almost always brought to the table without you asking for it, but you are charged and sometime by the person. Caution is advised – on the menu it is around R$8.00 but that can be per person – ouch! so always ask and be comfortable refusing if you want. Generally Camillo and I don’t take a couver – a meal by itself is too much food. Couver is usually any combination of olives, small bits of cheese, eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, trout pate (yummy), chicken liver or blue cheese pate (yummy!!), butter, and bread in varying degrees of freshness. It is the habit to eat dinner after 9pm here so I almost always eat off the appetizer menu, portions are smaller and it has things I really like – like Carpaccio. For me the perfect late night dinner item.
In the very popular Botequim ("bo-tech-kym"), Boteco ("bo-tech-ko") as they are usually called by the locals (very casual places to meet with friends and talk and eat) the menus are simple. Even though they are becoming more sophisticated these very Brasilian places have a menu that includes beer (s), of course, and then petiscos (little things) like shrimp or chicken with garlic, or shrimp on a skewer, batata frita (French Fries) or Portuguese (fresh fried potato chips), and pateis (empanadas filled with shrimp, cheese or beef). These menus will include fried lula (octopus) and fried sardines, heart of palm soup, and picanha on the grill. This is my favorite way to eat in Rio.