Brazilian versatility is also expressed by its cuisine, which will delight your senses with delicious regional Brazilian treats. Bahian cuisine is regarded as the most diverse of the regional menus, beginning with its famous spiritual snack food, acarajé (black eyed peas mashed in salt and onions, deep fried in dendê palm oil in the shape of a crispy golden bun, then filled with dried shrimp and optional delicacies, pepper sauce or salad, and served at street corner stands by Bahianas in their white candomblé garb). The vatapá (ground cashew nuts with dendê oil, dried shrimp and coconut milk) and carurú (okra cooked in dendê oil with dried shrimp and seasonings) dishes are also spiritual foods and classic accompaniments, often served inside acarajés.
The northeast region as a whole is famous for the moqueca (seafood lightly stewed in palm oil, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions and herbs), which is classically served over white rice with dendê fried manioc flour, or farofa, on the side. Red snapper is the preferred fish for a moqueca, though pompano, grouper, swordfish and others are also very good. Options for moquecas include shrimp, soft shell crabs, oysters and various shell fish. The eclectic seafood lover can venture to try octopus and squid, which is always served fresh from the sea. Depending where you are, a diver will even fetch your octopus or lobster out of the ocean on request.
Rio de Janeiro offers a wide variety of international and Brazilian regional restaurants; though it is renowned for its feijoada carioca (black beans stewed with different meats, herbs and seasonings, and served over white rice with farofa, greens, orange slices and fried bananas on the side).
Brazilian barbecue means churrasco, a tradition which originated in southern Brazil?s Gaucho country (South American version of the cowboy and the west), famous for its beef. If you are a meat lover, lunch (it is too heavy for dinner) at a churrascaria restaurant is a must. A small army of waiters circle your table with every cut of beef, pork, and chicken imaginable on a meter long skewer, all of them hot from the grill. They serve you small slices or portions until you raise the white flag. There is also a complete self service buffet of side dishes and salads.
The large central State of Minas Gerais (named for its mineral wealth) has one of the greatest food varieties of the country. Being an interior state with no major river running through it, all its food dishes are based on pork, chicken and beef, as well as dairy and vegetable items. Minas culture is based on small self sustained farms, so its food is made of simple ingredients yet is uniquely and deliciously prepared. Those who visit Minas and enjoy pork should, order a Leitão à pururuca (braised piglet) accompanied by tutu mineiro (refried beans with coconut milk). While waiting, drink a cold Brazilian lager, or a fresh fruit juice. For those that enjoy alcoholic drinks, don?t forget that the world?s best spirit made from sugar cane is made in Minas: cachaça (kashahsah), or pinga. A sip of straight Minas cachaça is as smooth as it gets.
Most of the dishes of the northern region are related to Amazon Indian culture and seafood. In the north they have an old saying: All fish are different; each is unique in its own way. The good cook knows all the possible ways to prepare a specific fish, and is aware that it may not be repeated with a different one. Fruit is also an integral part of the region?s diet. Cupuaçu is the region?s signature fruit, a delicious meaty fruit with a slightly tart taste.
Vegetarians will also find new pleasures in Brazil. If you were to discover two or three new fruits per day, it would take a month to discover most of the native fruits. Listed here are just a few to whet your appetite: Jaca (which is similar to breadfruit), carambola, tamarindo, graviola, caja, abacaxi (pineapple), manga (mango), melancia (watermelon), cupuaçu, açai, the list goes on. All over Brazil there are 24-hour juice bars which will make you up fresh juice with the fruit of your choice. Salads also partake of different leaves and herbs that are unique to local menus.
World famous are the caipirinhas of Brazil. This exotic cocktail is a blend of cachaça mixed with crushed limes, sugar and ice. Brazilian barmen tend to be generous on the alcohol, so watch out, these drinks are not only delicious, they are also strong. Caipiroska is another renowned drink popular in Bahia. It is a similar idea to the caipirinha, except vodka is used instead of cachaça. The variety of Roskas in Bahia is as wide as the variety of fruits in Brazil. Roskas, as they are locally known, can be made with just about any fruit available. Some good ones to try are caja, morango (strawberry) and abacaxi (pineapple).
The diversity of regional dishes and flavors is so great that a visitor could very well travel throughout Brazil and never experience the same taste twice, though the temptation to repeat the dishes would make this task virtually an impossible one.