Vinayak Rao is a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an ISA Featured blogger. Vinayak is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florianopolis, Brazil.
To say that last night was one of the most fun evenings of my life does not express how great last night’s festivities were. A little bit about myself; I live for food. I believe that the best way to learn about a culture is to spend time with its people and to indulge in their culinary creations. So when my host family told me that we were going to have a BBQ, filled with a wide array of meats and poultry, I was excited.
In Portuguese, BBQ is churrasco, (pronounced chew-haas-ko). And in Brasil, they take it very seriously. Each region, state, county, city and suburb has its own unique style of BBQ and each are as proud of their style of cooking as they would be their own child. The way the BBQ was prepared for me was the way the gauchos of Southern Brasil have been preparing it for the past two hundred or so years — with just a lot of salt. Try almost 500 grams of salt per cut of meat. It’s a lot and at first is overwhelming, but after the first bite you’ll definitely go back for more. We had three different cuts of steak, over 20 pieces of sausage (linguica and toscana), coração de frango (chicken hearts, which is surprisingly popular in Brasil) and much more. Also, we were doing this outside right in the middle of a tropical storm! It looked worse than the one that marooned Tom Hanks in Cast Away! Yeah, it was pretty cool.
The people of this region are proud, and it certainly is reflected in their food. It’s a simple way of grilling, a way that perfectly represents the rugged pioneers who lived in this frontier. In a land of growth and possibility, where adaptation and change were as necessary as breathing itself, this traditional way of grilling is a way for these proud people to hold onto their heritage in a country that is rapidly moving in a new direction.
Really enjoyed reading your post! I participated in a professional exchange to Rio Grande do Sul last year and remember the churassco…unlike any BBQ I had had before! If you haven’t yet tried chimarrão make sure you check it out too :)