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May 12, 2007 04:25 PM

Special food during Brazilian Carnival

That's what my son's school project is about. Even with my help, he's kind of hitting the wall; hopefully a fellow Chowhound has some insight. Is someone able to point me to a source or have any personal knowledge of what might be prepared specifically during that Brazilian madness?

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  1. During Carnival you have both street foods and dishes cooked at home and in restaurants. One thing that is always eaten is the Brazilian national dish, Feijoda, a pork and bean stew. Street food like pastel / pasteis (I can't remember which spelling) which are fritters or pastries filled with just about anything like meat, fish, shrimp, fruit, veggies, etc. and then deep fried. Smoky grilled meats abound, like marinated and spice rubbed tri-tip and sausages. Bolinos de chuva which are donut balls.

    People who are dancing in the parades tend to eat light meals before hand like chicken and fish or lots of fresh fruit. Then afterwards they eat heavier foods like the stews and grilled meats.

    Also there is tons of drinking. Lots of water because of the heat and dancing, soft drinks like the Brazillian soda GuaranĂ¡ and fruit drinks and juices; as well as beer and Caipirinhas.

    If you do a google search using the terms carnival, brazil, and food you will get tons of info. Just remember that Brazil is huge and the different states have vastly different cuisines due to the vastly different populations in each area. The largest celebration of Carnival is in Salvador in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

    1. I loved the grilled chicken hearts (coracao) that I got in Rio's Lapa area, underneath the arches as I danced pagoge and sucked back one cold Skol after another. Most Cariocas (rio people) refer to the grilled skewers as "churrasco de gato", which basicall means grilled cat. A joke. I pray.

      In Salvador, the best is Acaraje, which I can only describe as a shrimp sandwich with shrimp paste in a large falafelike patty. Tasty. They also have a drink which is the umburoska, a caipirinha with the umbu berry fruit and vodka. Nossa!

      2 Replies
      1. re: mutant4

        Thanks, this will help getting him going.

        1. re: mutant4

          Umburoshka is a great shout, I was addicted to that drink (and that fruit) the two times I made it to carnival in Salvador in the early zeroes. So too caipiroshkas and batidas (alcoholic milkshakes basically) although they leave you with wicked hangovers as cheap grade cachaca is being used as the base spirit!

          As for the food, you would most closely associate with carnival the streetside hawker offerings like acaraje which is cooked (deep fried) by streetside hawkers in dende ("palm") oil which has a strong taste and is meant to disagree with the stomachs of many non-natives (my iron stomach survived intact!). Dende oil also appears in moqueca and bobo which are types of Bahian fish/shellfish stews served in earthenware dishes and widely available in the restaurants which are obviously busy during the carnival period.

          Other streetside offerings I remember are pastels (flaky + slightly soggy underneath savoury pastries) stuffed with either frango (spicy chicken) or siri (crab) and pao de queijo which is a cheese puff equivalent.

          What a great school project by the way!!

        2. So many good Brazilian dishes are based on cassava (a.k.a. yuca, manioc, tapioca, mandioca) which may be hard to find and difficult to process where you are: yuca fries, many dishes made of the toasted starch, manisoba--made from the leaves processed for four days, even the best chili sauce using the liquid from yuca processing.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Sam, can you point us to a link that estimates the world's consumption of the chief carbohydrates like rice, wheat, cassava, corn, taters, yams etc? Distribution maps would also be cool.

            I have a foreign exchange student here who is willing to show me how they process cassava in the traditional way, and he's looking for a retail source of the root. It seems like neat stuff.

            1. re: FoodFuser

              FF, try:


              If you need maps, let me know what you need. We do a lot of the GIS stuff.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Thanks for the link. It looks deep and promising.

                There was new enjoyment in the tapioca pearls in my dessert at the Thai restaurant today.

                1. re: FoodFuser

                  That stuff is great. Haven't a clue as to how they make it!