Brazil's national dish par excellence

Feijoada. Traditional brazilian food
Feijoada - © Mauricio Milan/Istockphoto

Can't think of a single time I went to Brazil without having feijoada at least once.

Traditionally eaten over the week-ends, sometimes Wednesdays (although, there are restaurants who serve it every day) it's the quintessential brazilian food or "o mais brasileiro dos sabores".

Sure, somebody may think that a meal based on black beans and rice is a "cheap" option or just a filler to go along with the main course, but think it twice because feijoada is found in the most humble households of Brazil as well as in the most sophisticated restaurants in Rio or São Paulo.

And there are more ingredients to it. Even though its recipe varies according to which part of Brazil you're traveling in, fresh, dried and cured meats are also part of this supreme stew.

It would normally be served with rice, farofa, deep-fried bananas and hot chilli peppers as side dish. Being a consistent, rather heavy meal, you'll have it at lunch time preferably, and wash it down with the help of a cachaça, caiprinha or beer.

Originally - and this goes back to XVI century - it was cooked using the less-desirable or cheapest pork cuts such as snout, ears, feet or belly. That's history, today it's prepared using smoked pork ribs, bacon (tocino) and at least two types of smoked sausage and jerked beef boiled together with black turtle beans. Beans were previously cooked over slow fire for several hours until reaching the status of a dark purplish-brown broth.

Talking about the history of feijoada, it seems to be different opinions about its origins. The most romantic one talks about the days of slavery - an estimated number of 1.3 million slaves were brought from Africa to work in sugarcane plantations and other tasks before it was abolished in Brazil in 1888.

Beans were regular part of their diet that - on special occasions - would benefit from leftovers and scraps of pork meat coming from the kitchen to prepare this typical Brazil food we enjoy today. A second version - provably the most realistic one- places its origins in the Portuguese cozidos (stews). Let's remember that Brazil was part of the Portuguese Empire until its independence in 1822.

If you care to read about the history of Brazil, please check the history of South America, particularly chapters XVIII, XIX, XX and XXI.

Have you already fallen asleep?. After so many historical facts chances are that you may,so let's go for a hands-on exercise and learn how to prepare this popular brazilian dish all by yourself. After this you'll be able to impress friends and foes with equal intensity...

It may happen that dealing with pots and pans is not your thing and I wouldn't blame you for it. However, there's a workaround to this, find the nearest brazilian restaurant in your home town or grab the first plane ticket to Brazil and ask for feijoada anywhere you land at.

Enjoy it thoroughly and take a minute to share with us your first experience with brazilian cuisine, even your own recipe version is more than welcome, but please, unless you are one of those lovely souls who likes to kill the messenger, don't send us the bill, would you?..


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