Meals: Brazilian cuisine is one of the best in South America. Breakfast is usually quite elaborate, with coffee, rolls, cake and occasionally, pie. This is accompanied with fresh fruit and juice (“Suco”). People have a hot meal twice a day; lunch is the most important meal. A basic meal in Brazil consists of arroz (white rice), feijão (black beans) and farofa (cassava farina). With these, meat (carne), chicken (galinha) or fish (peixe) is usually served.
Brazil has many regional cuisines, not unusual for such an immensely large country. Every region has various specialities, such as juicy steaks in Foz de Iguaçu and rice or cassava with fish in the Amazon. In Bahia the food is a mishmash of African, Portuguese and Indian influences, with fragrant ingredients such as palm oil, fish and coconut milk. Vegetarian food is just developing. Most cities have restaurants serving a vegetarian meal, which will be healthy, but not always tasty. In many places you can have a fill your plate buffet. For vegetarians this is a good solution as there are many salads and separate dishes available.
Drinking water: Tap water is not drinkable everywhere. Buy bottles of purified water, available almost everywhere, still water (sem gás) or sparkling (com gás).
Drinks: In Brazil alcohol comes in the form of beer (such as “Chopp” or “Antártica”) or cachaça, hard liquor made of sugarcane. There are good and bad brands on the market. Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, is made from cachaça. You can buy soft drinks everywhere and they are cheaper than mineral water. A well-known soft drink here is guaraná, made from the berries of a plant from the Amazon district. It tastes as if you have just swallowed a whole lipstick. Fruit juices are heavenly here. The region and the season determine the variety on offer. The Amazon area has particularly unusual fruits. “Vitaminas”, a milkshake with fresh fruit juice is popular. If you don’t want sugar and ice cubes in your juice, ask for sem açúcar e gelo or naturel.
Coffee and tea: Brazilians take their coffee strong, hot and sweet. They call it cafezinho and serve in small cups, without milk but with lots of sugar. If you don’t like sugar, you could search for a place where they serve espresso. Café com leite is coffee with hot milk which, is mainly taken with breakfast. Tea (chá) is drunk a lot less in this country. Real tea lovers are advised to take along packets from home then order hot water and brew your own.