Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Five Facts For Foreigners - Vol. V

Just when I think I've listed all the insider's tips I can, I realize that on the contrary, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Here's the beef on Brazilian Bar-B-Que...
  1. When I said there are no finger foods in Brazil, I forgot about traditional Bar-B-Que gatherings at home, or on the range (camping)... Perhaps what I should have said is that it's the reverse. Just think of everyday as "Opposite Day.” (That used to help me.) For example, where we would eat potato wedges with our fingers, here cuts of sirloin are sliced into bite-sized strips, and then passed around for you to grab one of them. For a place where finger foods are generally frowned upon, this took me aback quite a bit - especially since it's something we would probably frown on back home. Ha-ha! The quirkiness of cultural differences never fails to make me chuckle.

  2. Another interesting point in this ritual that may seem quite different than what we are accustomed to, is that they aren't "passing the plate," as we know it. Everyone takes a turn serving the group, making the rounds like a waiter. If you haven't seen anyone else do it, don't worry: they're not putting you to work. That would just be awkward. Someone else will soon take their turn and bring by a fresh plate of sliced meat. At first I thought it's a regional thing, but I am told this is a common practice all over Brazil.

  3. Just as you will have your turn(s) at playing waiter, you will also learn how to divvy up the meat the appropriate way. Picanha (Top Sirloin) is the hands-down favorite. Just don't make the mistake of cutting off the little piece of fat on the end because that is a major faux pas. Whoops... It is normally eaten along with the rest of the slice of meat. I personally nibble off the meat, and leave the little fatty stubs for the nearest dog or cat. :)

    Original image found here.

  4. The menu for a traditional cook out or Bar-B-Que goes something along the lines of Beef, Chicken (hearts, thighs or legs), Pork or Chicken Sausage, and [sometimes] Goat that is served with white (garlicky) rice, beans, collard greens (made one of three popular ways), Vinagrete (similar to Pico de Gallo, with bell pepper substituted for the hot pepper) and Mandioca (Yucca Root) that has been cooked in a pressure cooker to a soft, steaming consistency.

    Image provided by Strayed from the Table.

    Accompanying most meals is a side of farinha or crunchy miniscule crumbs of toasted mandioca that some foreigners refer to as "sand." It can take some getting used to. Eating a pile of tiny dried crumbs atop any food, without getting any in your windpipe, is an acquired skill. I actually did inhale sand once on the playground, so I can attest to the similarity. (Exactly how this occurred is still a traumatic burning question of the past.) Moving on...

  5. There is no Bar-B-Que sauce. Brazilian Bar-B-Que is seasoned with limejuice, salt & pepper or Rock Salt. If you are going to use limejuice, salt & pepper then you may want to marinate it for a few hours. If you go the rock salt route, then there is no need to marinate it - it will be too salty. The rock salt melts, as the meat is seared on the grill. Just watch out for any rogue pieces of rock salt that fall off into the fire. They explode & can become small, sizzling missiles that could potentially burn your skin and/or clothing.

    Image provided by Zack.

    If you must have some Bar-B-Que sauce with your Bar-B-Que then you might want to try one of the larger supermarkets that may have some imported BBQ sauce... or contact me. I know a certain Texas guy in Goiânia that makes the best Bar-B-Que sauce this side of the equator. (The other side, too!)

Coming Soon: The Gnarly Nature of Newscasts

Unless otherwise noted, all images found via Google Images.

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