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.


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