It’s the end of the year and time to celebrate all the good things that happened in 2012…and send good vibrations for the New Year. I would like to help you celebrate the end of the year with my personal “passion fruit caipirinha” recipe.
To make this delicious drink you will need:
1 passion fruit
1 can of condensed milk – in U.S. the “Lechera” brand is the best!
2 oz of vodka
Start by cutting the passion fruit in 2 halves, reserve 1 half. With a spoon take all the passion fruit pulp inside the shaker with ice (3 or 4 cubs), add 1 table spoon of sugar cane and the 2oz of vodka. Add 4 spoons of condensed milk, half lime juice pressed and shake very well. Pour everything inside the tall glass with the desired quantity of ice and drink! In the Brazilian tradition, make a really big glass and share it with your friends.
One of the most important cultural symbols in the Brazilian culture is the “Festa Junina” – June Festival. This festival originally came from Portugal, a country deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. June is the month that commemorates most famous saints of Catholicism: Saint Anthony on June 13th, Saint John Baptist on June 24th, and Saint Peter on June 29th. According to anthropologists, Festa Junina started before the Christian era with the summer solstice, when the Celtics and Egyptians celebrated the end of the harvest season.
Quadrilha dancing in Oakland - CA
The native Brazilian Indians have their own celebrations during winter (remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed), those celebrations were added to the Portuguese celebrations brought by the Jesuits. Brazilian culture by nature embraces and incorporates traditions and festivities from all over the world.
During the celebrations of Festa Junina, you will taste lots of delicious foods, like pinhão, Curau, pamonha, doce de abóbora, sweet-potato and manioc (cassava, yucca or yuca…depending on where you are from). All of these dishes are part of native Brazilian cuisine and incorporate influence from Portuguese dishes like quentão, pé-de-moleque, bolo de fubá and etc. We have our own version of the mulled wine with spices and small apple cubes.
Traditional Festa Junina flags with USA and Brazil flags.
Dancing during the Festa Junina is always the highlight of the festival. Usually you’ll see a theater performance where a single man is pressured to marry a girl because she is pregnant and her father expects him to take responsibility. During the performance, traditional songs are sung and everyone participates, including the families of the bride and groom, priests, police officers, and everyone else from the imaginary village. Watch a great Festa Junina dance performance below:
If you enjoy tea you should try “Chimarrão”. Very popular in the South of Brazil, chimarrão or mate is a infused drink served inside a dried out calabash (cuia) with a metal straw (bomba) attached where you can suck the tea. Usually the straw is made of silver and surrounded by beautiful stones. In the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Chimarrão is more than just drinking tea, it’s a ritual.
The erva-mate, or “mate” in English, is a 15 meter tall tree. To make the tea, the cultivators roast parts of the leaves and branches together. The flavor is a little bitter and the temperature of the water can influence the taste. You never let the water boil when you are preparing a mate! The water needs to be very hot but shouldn’t bubble, when you hear the sound of the water heating be sure to watch the kettle carefully. Right before it hits boiling temperature, turn off the fire and infuse with the tea. In a few minutes you can enjoy your mate.
Above you can see me planning an AIB tour and drinking my delicious and hot Chimarrão. If the mate is too bitter for your taste, you can add you favorite herbal tea and honey.
I love to make barbecue for my friends and often receive compliments about the flavor of the Brazilian barbecue. Since some of my Americans friends have been asking, I decided to write about the secret of “rodízio” style* barbecue. It’s not hard for me to get excited about this topic – I LOVE meat!
Picanha - Top Sirloin cut
Brazilians cut their meat differently than American butchers. In the U.S. the “Picanha” cut (which is prized for Brazilian barbecue) is called “Top Sirloin” and weights no more than 2 ½ pounds. What makes this meat great is the thick layer of fat on one side – next blog I’ll create a video about how to identify a Picanha cut of meat in the market. Usually Brazilians like to roast the Picanha for about 15 minutes, slicing the meat into small pieces until you can see the blood again. Once you see the blood, the Picanha goes back into the “churrasqueira” (Brazilian grill) to be roasted for more 10 minutes. Picanha should be eaten medium rare – cooking Picanha well done is considered a sin by Brazilians.
This picture will help you how to identify a good piece of Picanha:
Picanha cut - Brazilian Meat
Here is a great video by Marcos Bassi* with instructions how to roast and grill a Picanha. I hope you like the instructions and don’t forget to invite me for your next barbecue!
Rodízio Style: Brazilian restaurant system where customers pay a fixed price and the waiters bring an selection of different foods to the table several times throughout the meal, until the customers signify that they have had enough. This concept originated in the South of Brazil and was first adopted in Churrascarias style restaurants that specialize in meat. Today, many types of cuisines offer a Rodízio style dining experience – pizza and sushi for example.
Marcos Guardabassi: (São Paulo, 1948) is a business man from the gastronomy sector. He started his career when he was 13 years old by selling meat in the streets. In 1976 he started the Central Frigorífica de Carnes Bassi. In 1979 he opened his first restaurant Templo da Carne Marcos Bassi – Rua 13 Maio, 668 Sao Paulo, 01327-000, Brazil (0xx)11 3288-7045. In 1999 Marcos Bassi sold all his businesses except his restaurant, where you can meet and chat with him.
One of my favorite attractions in São Paulo is the Mercado Municipal. Located in Zona Cerealista, it’s a huge enclosed market that sells every flavor of Brazil imaginable. As you wander through the isles, you’ll find fruits from the Amazon, salted codfish (Bacalhau), fresh meat and poultry, homemade docinhos (candy), and much, much more. The best part of this market is that they’ll let you sample just about everything, so save your appetite! Everyone here is eager to offer visitors a nibble in the hopes that you’ll take something home with you. Keep a eye on the prices as the Mercado is primarily a tourist attraction and not a typical shopping spot for Brazilians. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours learning about local flavors and regional dishes of Brazil.