People headed to Brazil for the Olympics can expect more than exciting games — they’re in for a culinary treat. Brazilian cuisine is built on the tropical flavors abundant in the region, from seafood to tropical fruits. Much of Brazilian cuisine is prepared tapas-style, easy to share with friends and family.
If you want to eat like a local in Brazil, you must try the popular snacks sold on street corners, in cafes and bars, and at the Olympic venues. One food not to miss in Rio is the snack food coxinha (pronounced “koh-SHEEN-yah”), a deep-fried treat. Made of a savory dough stuffed with chicken salad that is battered and deep-fried, this is a popular street food in Brazil. The unique shape is meant to resemble a chicken leg. This tasty snack is very popular in Brazil, so you'll be sure to find it at the snack bars at the Olympics.
Pastel or Pasteis (plural)
This popular finger food is popular throughout Brazil, from high end eateries to food trucks. Similar to empanadas, crispy pasteis are filled with any number of savory goodies and deep fried. Three traditional fillings are mozzarella, seasoned shredded chicken, and ground beef flavored with garlic and onion. Shrimp and vegetarian fillings such as "pizza" are also popular. They are typically filled and fried to order, so you'll be sure to get a fresh, piping hot treat.
A Lebanese style snack brought to Brazil by the large immigrant population from the Middle East, kibe (pronounced “kee-bee”) continues the theme of deep fried bites. The filling is made from beef seasoned with garlic, onions, mint and cinnamon and then wrapped by a bulgur wheat shell. These croquettes are traditionally served with lime or tahini dip.
Feijoada (pronounced “fey-zhoo-AH-da”) is Brazil’s national dish, a stew made up of black beans, beef, pork and sausages typically served with cooked collard greens and white rice. The meats used are a mix of fresh, salted and dried and most stews include carne seca, a salted, dried beef typical throughout Latin America.
The stew might vary slightly from place to place, based on regional traditions, but it's traditionally made with black beans in Rio. Some preparations are thicker than others. Some make it spicy, depending on the meat used. Some add vegetables, and others don’t.
A Brazilian fish stew, moqueca is popular throughout the country, though it varies by region. The basic recipe includes salt water fish, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander and palm oil. Other variations can be found, incorporating ingredients like peppers, red chili and lime. Fish species can range from shark, swordfish, prawns and other boneless salt water fish.
Cooked slowly in clay pots, the flavors stew together, creating a rich, delicious stew. Two popular versions are moqueca bahiana and moqueca capixaba. Moqueca bahiana uses coconut and palm oil, typical ingredients from the northeast of Brazil which were brought to the country during colonial times. Moqueca capixaba does not use these ingredients.
Guaraná (pronounced “gwahr-uh-NA”) is a red berry seed fruit that grows throughout Latin America, and is popular in juices, candy, teas and, of course, soda. The seed, which contains caffeine, is crushed to be used in beverages. The flavor is sweet, with a flavor some say is similar to bubble gum.
Guarana has been popular in South America for more than 400 years, and the soda makes up 1/4 of Brazil’s soft drink market. You'll be sure to see this soft drink sold at the Olympics venues. Find more popular Brazilian drinks at the venues and nearby bars.
What trip would be complete without a Brazilian dessert? In Brazil, the national sweet treat is brigadeiro (pronounced “bri-gah-DAY-ro”), somewhat similar in size and shape to the familiar chocolate truffle.
Made from a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder, this sweet candy is popular throughout Brazil. Shaped into balls, the candy is rolled in a variety of dry ingredients from chocolate “jimmies” to cocoa powder or coconut flakes. The candy is a staple at holiday parties and birthday parties throughout Brazil, so it’s certain to make an appearance at the Olympics.