Brazil is the largest country in South America, and the fifth-largest country in the world.
Because of its size, it’s a country made up of many different cultures. Each region (south, southeast, northeast, north and mid-west) has different cuisine styles and flavours and they’re each very particular and amazing.
When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil in 1500, they brought their tastes, ingredients and cooking styles with them. They brought us cane sugar, fruits such as lime and orange, and many other spices and ingredients that are still used in most brazilian recipes. Other people that settled in Brazil – for different circumstances – bringing their culture were Africans, Italians, Japanese, Arabs, and Germans, and each of these groups brought along their own style of cooking and ingredients, making our cuisine so much richer and more interesting.
But just for today, let’s not talk too much about the European or Japanese influence on our food culture. On this post I want to talk about those who were living in our lands long before the Europeans arrived: The Tupí.
They were one of the biggest and most important indigenous peoples that lived in Brazil when the Portuguese first arrived there. In 1500, their population was estimated at 1 million people, nearly equal to the population of Portugal at the time. Back then, they were already masters at planting and cooking manioc (a root vegetable like a potato) in many different ways, being its flour their substitute for bread. They squeezed this grated manioc with a cylinder made out of straw (tipiti), separating the liquid from the dough.
Well, and it’s from manioc that one of our most beloved and traditional foods come: Farofa! The origin of Farofa is debatable and most historians believe that it dates back from the colonial period, when the African slaves first arrived in Brazil in Portuguese ships. They took advantage of the fact that manioc was widely available in the country and came up with this amazing recipe using only a few ingredients. It’s a very simple but scrumptious dish, made using ground manioc, which looks similar to fine breadcrumbs. We also love to eat manioc flour toasted in a little oil or butter and sprinkled over rice, beans, meat, and fish.
There are so many different variations of how to cook this dish, though. In certain regions (especially north and northeast), people like to use plantain as one of the main ingredients of their farofa. Where I come from, Rio de Janeiro, we use thin bacon bits, lots of garlic, onion and eggs. My favourite variation is definitely the latter, and it’s the one I’ll teach you how to make today!
(You could make this a vegetarian recipe by substituting butter by margarine or olive oil and taking out the bacon and eggs and adding plantain instead.)
So, are you ready to learn how to make delicious farofa and impress your friends?