Discovering the Heart of Brazil through the Stomach

Natalie Laurence is a student at Texas A & M University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with Veritas in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Food is a wondrous thing. It has this incredible ability to simultaneously provide sustenance to the stomach and  joy to the soul. Food brings people together and reminds us of the past, of family, and of our humanity. And, while food remains a necessity for the body, everyone has their own unique idea of what it’s meant to be.

This is why experiencing the foods of different cultures is one of my favorite parts of traveling and studying abroad. One of the most incredible things about the food here in Brazil is that each dish gives a small glimpse into the country’s rich history of influences. And, although there are COUNTLESS examples of this, here are just a few that I love.

Indigenous Influence:

Manioc, also known as “aipim”, “cassava”, and “yuca”, is a plant commonly found in Brazil. Its root was (and still is) used widely by indigenous groups and comes in many forms. Manioc is often ground into a variety of flours, then used to make foods such as pão de queijo (cheese bread) as well as farrofa (a seasoned flour often paired with meat, rice, and beans) and tapioca. However, manioc can also be fried and eaten whole, though if not prepared properly, can be poisonous!

Manioca Fritada, a traditional Bahian dish, topped with Parmesan cheese, oregano, and served with sweet pepper jelly.

German Influence:

Brazil has a large history of German immigration, especially in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina (home to Florianópolis!). Every October, the nearby city of Blumenau hosts the world’s second largest Oktoberfest, where you can find everything from traditional Spätzle and Apfelstrudel to Batata Rechada (a vegetarian or meat stuffed potato loaded with cheese and potato sticks).

Italian Influence:

Brazil has seen several waves of Italian immigration throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and with them, the introduction of Italian cuisine. Especially prevalent in the southern regions, Italian-Brazilian restaurants and pizzerias can be found all over. However, pizzerias in Brazil are unlike any other. The all-you-can-eat pizzas are brought one-by-one to your table and selections vary from stroganoff to chocolate and strawberry.

Ravioli à Calabresa, from La Trattoria in Rio de Janeiro.

Japanese Influence:

In addition to Italy and Germany, Japan has also contributed to much of Brazil’s immigration. Great sushi restaurants are easy to find and pair well with Florianópolis’s incredibly fresh fish. Yakisoba is also a must!

But, all in all, it’s incredibly difficult to do Brazil’s food and culture justice through a single blog post. Why not come taste for yourself! You absolutely will not regret it.

Bom apetite!

The world awaits…discover it.

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