It’s no secret that food is one of the most important things in our lives – I mean we need it to live! Food plays a role not only in our survival, but our culture as well. Every culture around the world has distinct traditions, customs, meanings, or memories they associate with certain foods. Last time I spoke with Nathaly, she mentioned that one of the biggest changes she faced was in fact food. São Paulo’s cuisine is very different from the food she has experienced in the United States, to say the least.
One of the first things Nathaly mentioned was the use of ice in our drinks here. She explained that in São Paulo, they typically don’t use ice. Even when she’d specifically ask for no ice, Nathaly said it was such a foreign concept to waiters that she’d end up with a soda full of ice regardless. This part of our conversation made me laugh because to be honest… I’m the total opposite! I’m the person that orders an extra cup of ice when my drink is running low. In fact, I struggled when I visited Spain because they never served my “Coca-Cola Light” with ice. Another American thing that Nathaly just does not understand is grits. I told her that I was on board with her on this, as I had never tried grits till I came to Auburn and am still not too crazy about them!
Brazil, more specifically São Paulo, is home to many delectable dishes and has some of the best dining in the world. According to Nathaly, “everybody that visits Brazil says they eat well.” Brazil boasts some of the world’s best steakhouses, serving a specialty meat called “rodízio.” These Brazilian steakhouses feature a unique “all-you-can-eat” serving method in which waiters come to the table with various meats on skewers throughout your meal, until you decide you’ve had enough. Nathaly says that around lunchtime in São Paulo, business people don’t rush to the nearest fast food joint. Instead, buffet style restaurants are popular and equally as efficient. Although quality of food probably trumps the need for a quick lunch, as Brazil’s culture is polychronic, thus there is usually not the same urgency we tend to feel in the United States. These self-service restaurants always have a wide variety to choose from, and are much better quality than your typical American buffet. (Golden Corral or Ryan’s comes to mind…yuck!)
Holidays are often celebrated with special foods that become a family tradition over time. For Nathaly, birthdays are celebrated with a dessert called “brigadeiro.” Brigadeiro is a chocolate dessert that can be eaten with a spoon, dipped in fruit, or rolled into little bite-size balls. The best part about brigadeiro?
It is SO simple to make, Nathaly says it takes all of ten minutes to prepare. When Nathaly showed me a picture of some brigadeiro treats, I thought it resembled Edible Arrangements when eaten with fruit; except I’m almost 100% positive that brigadeiro tastes much better. According to Nathaly, every American friend she has made brigadeiro for has absolutely loved it!
Discussing Brazilian cuisine with Nathaly was not only informing, but entertaining and interesting. Hearing about the food in São Paulo honestly made me want to book my ticket tomorrow… Brazil, here I come. And I’m ready to try some food!