“If you can’t be happy eating a moist, roast pork sandwich, drinking a caipirinha, with this view in the background, in a sea of oily tight buttocks, you’ve really got a problem.” – Anthony Bourdain.
It’s official. Rio de Janeiro has stolen my heart. This place will leave you inspired, and possibly in withdrawal from too many caipirinhas. Ipanema and Copacobana beach are filled with unabashed, sun tanning locals. Don’t forget the party scene in Lapa – a “do-not-miss” Friday night experience but also home to Escadaria Selaron’s infamous steps. Check out a samba practice and watch the dancers rehearse for the ultimate performance – Carnival. If you’re brave, try out a few moves for yourself!
Of course, the real reason I love this city, has to do with the food. Sucos (fresh juice) made with just about any tropical fruit that you can think of, crispy tapioca pancakes (fried cassava/manioc flour) with sweet or savory fillings or pastry parcels known as empadas filled with shrimp, cheese or beef. A true foodie cannot leave Rio without tasting the delicious and distinctive coconut milk stew known as moqueca (seafood stew with palm oil) and bolinhos (salted cod and potato croquettes). And what about the steak? Sizzling steak and onions with broccoli rice, potato chips (heck yeah!) and farofa (toasted manioc flour) will change your life.
The markets offer fresh fruit and produce, generously offering samples of sweet strawberries, mango and pears that drip sugar down your chin as you walk the market length. Chillies, garlic and ginger offer a fragrant smell that makes me crave curry dishes from back home. Raw sugar cane juice can be found here, add some lime juice to balance the flavours (sound familiar? All we need is a little cachaça!). Caipirinhas, a classic drink made from sugar, lime and cachaça rum, looks innocent but don’t be fooled – these little drinks should NOT be underestimated, or you’ll learn the hard way.
What is your favourite Brazilian dish to eat?