Brazil is one of those ubiquitous places that conjures up such a dreamscape: palm trees, coconuts, sweaty dance floors, rum & visions of beautiful people. And boy are they beautiful. Who can mistake the postcards of beautiful women clad in bikinis and g-strings, the fior dental (dental floss) in bright lime green. These are the typical women that Snoop personified in his ‘Beautiful’ video, the type Sir Mix-a-Lot would holler about.
In reality when you land in Brazil, what you see is birds-eye views of favelas, abject poverty, dilapidated but gorgeous Portuguese architecture and a crazy bustling nightlife that doesn’t sleep.
Brazilian food? While fried fish on the beach with lime and hot sauce is amazing for the first week (or even two), and while pork and black beans is delicious the first three times, and while you’ll stuff your face in any comida a kilo joint (like Smorgy’s by the kilo), an extended trip to Brazil will find you craving any plant life you can get your hands on.
That said, Brazil has had a long lasting effect on me. It holds a special place in my heart because that’s where my husband had just asked me to marry him, and also because we got to experience amazing music, beaches and Brazil’s national dish, Feijoada.
I was given a hand written list of Brazilian musicians to check in the record stores by a mutual friend Aloe Blacc, who happened to be at my place for dinner and who is a total oracle on Brazilian music. So I dutifully schlepped myself across Salvador, communicating in broken Italo-English-Portuguese, flashing my crumpled list in order to seek out gems in Joyce, Azymuth and Jorge Ben CDs.
A week or so ago, some nearly five years later, I made Feijoada for the first time, dishing up for a cast of 20 at my place. And after being into Brazilian music for a few years now, I’ve created a Brazilian playlist for Delicious Rhythm. Some bossa to vibe to, and some baile funk to work off all the black beans and pork I just ate.
The recipe for Feijoada is taken from a book I bought in a second hand bookshop in Salvador, Margarette de Andrade’s Brazilian Cookery. I’ve made few alterations here, but chose Feijoada number 3. For pork I chose semi-cured chorizo, a small hock, a piece of smoked speck, fat removed and some Jamon offcuts from the good folks at Casa Iberica. Margarette doesn’t specify cooking time in her recipe, but allow 4-5 hours for everything to be very tender and flavoursome. Alternatively if you’re making a smaller amount you could always use a slow cooker and start the day before.
Recipe – Feijoada
Serves 12-15 people 4 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight
1-2 semi-cured chorizo sausages
400g smoked speck, fat removed
400g bacon/smoked hock, rind removed
400g dried pork ie. Jamon offcuts
1 rack of smoked pork ribs
In two separate pots, boil the beans (no seasoning) and boil the meats until almost tender. While this is happening, sautee the onion, garlic and cayenne pepper in 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the beans and the meats to combine into one pot and cook both for at least two hours. Add the onion mixture about halfway through. Use your judgement to see whether its thick enough and flavoursome enough, and keep cooking for another hour if needed. Check seasoning (the pork should provide all the salt you need).
I served with steamed rice, farofa, pork crackling, sliced orange, blanched sliced silverbeet and of course, hot sauce.
Drink with strong caipirinhas and feast your ears on my Brazilian spotify playlist.