The Cooking of Brazil
by Matthew Locricchio
The Regions of Brazil
and How They Taste
The cooking of Brazil stands apart from all
other South American cuisines because of its
unique ingredients and flavors. Brazil's fascinating
mixture of cultures, which blends native Indian,
Portugese, and African influences, has informed
and shaped its national cuisine.
The cooking of Brazil began to differ drastically
from all other South American cuisines more
than 500 years ago when Portuguese colonists
brought the first slaves to Brazil from Africa.
Many of the transplanted African women who
ran the kitchens ofthe colonists were experts
at cooking over open fires, baking,and using
spices. They invented new recipes by combining
familiar elements from their homelands with
the wide assortment of local ingredients that
native residents used in their everyday dishes.
In addition,the Portuguese brought to this
vast unknown country the ingredients that most
reminded them of home - items such as salt,
sugar, spices, eggs, and vinegar.
Through the years, Amerindian dishes absorbed
the influence of African and Portugese cuisine.
In later centuries,as a result of immigration
from other parts of Europe, German, Italian,
and eastern European influences had their impact
as well. What resulted was a diverse medley
of ingredients and techniques which,like any
good recipe, came together in new and exciting
ways. Despite this widespread diversity and
cultural variety,from a culinary perspective,
the nation can be divided into two distinct
regions,the north and the south. Each region
bursts with its own flavors andlong culinary
traditions just waiting to be shared.