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Curtis' Mission

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Brazilian Feijoada

"The members sometimes make us a "lite" feijoada, because anything more than lite could kill us."

Feijoada -- a bean potpourri type dish -- is roughly the Brazilian equivalent of our American "soul food". It is without a doubt the country's national dish. It is in fact so popular throughout Brazil that most restaurants, from the humblest inner-city " lanchonete" to the sophisticated hotels lining the Bahia and Rio shores, designate specific days in which "feijoada" is served at lunch time as "o prato do dia" -- the day's special. Other eateries pride themselves in the fact that they serve it every day and advertise it in the yellow pages and/or in conspicuous blackboards outside their premises. Since "feijoada" is in general a particularly "heavy" dish, it is only served at noon. The recommended post-feijoada activity is a nap.

In a real feijoada, or as the Brazilians say, "uma feijoada leg¡tima," every part of the pig is thrown into the pan. It is also a known fact that the sight of the pig's ear, tail or snout floating in the feijoada will upset the gringos. So feijoada is often made -- to the dismay of the traditionalists -- with only the noble parts of the pig. This reduces the fat content and makes it visually less offensive to gringos.

The traditional history of Brazilian feijoada is that it was a "luxury" dish of African slaves in Brazilian farms, as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production. Over time, it first became a popular dish among lower classes, and finally the "national dish" of Brazil, offered even by the finest restaurants.

However, this history is disputed. Some claim that it was inspired on the French cassoulet, while others conjecture that it evolved from the bean-and-pork dishes from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes in Portugal.

  • An easy-to-do "lite" version of Feijoada
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