Brazil Culture and Cuisine
Brazil is ranked fifth worldwide and first in South America in terms of country size. It is divided into five regions; Northern region also known as Norte, the Northeast region or Nordeste, the Central west region also referred to as Centro-Oeste, the Southeast region referred to as the Sudeste and the South region which is also called Sul (Brazil). These regions vary significantly in terms of demography, economy and culture. Generally, the southern region is more affluent as compared to the Northern region leading to the common term “Belindia” that shows contrast by comparing the Southern region to Belgium and the Northern region to India (Brazil).
Brazil’s cultural diversity has historical roots dating back to the colonial period during which time people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds immigrated to Brazil making it a multicultural society as it is today (Brazil). First and foremost, the Portuguese who colonized Brazil had significant influence on the Brazilian culture, especially their language, religion and architecture. Other immigrants who influenced the culture in Brazil came in later on after colonization and included Arabs, Germans, Italians and Japanese (Brazil). Indians who had immigrated to Brazil long before the Europeans as well as Africans who came in through slave trade influenced the native Brazilian culture and added to the diversity of the society (Brazil). Inter-marriage among these migrants over time has given rise to an even greater diversity.
With the immigration, came an influence on the traditional cuisine of the native Brazilians which is currently eclectic reflecting the rich multi-cultural influence it has. The Portuguese introduced pastries, coffee and dried fruits to the Brazilians during their colonization. African slaves, who had the most influence on the Brazilian cuisine introduced pepper, coconut milk and dende among other things (Brazil). Indians planted roots including cassava and sweet potatoes, made corn porridge, initiated the preservation of meat through smoking and drying, brought some fish species among others (Brazil). The above mentioned introductions led to the current diverse cuisine in Brazil which is renowned throughout the world.
Even though there is a common meal in Brazil, the 5 regions have their own distinct cuisines unique to those regions. The national dish, feijoada, is most common in the Southeast region and has its roots from the African slaves who settled in the region to provide slave labor to the immigrants from Europe, Japan and middle East who had established family farms and enterprises (Brazil).The feijoada ingredients include black beans, a variety of dried smoked meats and spices (Brazilian History of Food Culture). Churrasco, a meal comprising of various meats such as pork, beef, sausage and chicken is most popular in the South region. The climatic condition of this region was not favorable for the growth of coffee or sugarcane and that is why the Italian and German immigrants who settled here opted to rare livestock. The Central West region is popular for its fish dishes such as the fish broth. Fish is readily available because the region is strategically surrounded by water ((Brazilian History of Food Culture). The North region is similarly popular for its fish dishes which have influence from the Indians who incorporate herbs and roots. The Northeast part which has a strong African influence incorporates coconut milk, pepper, nuts, dende among other ingredients in their two popular fish and beef dishes (Brazilian History of Food Culture). Africans had been imported to this region during the slavery era to provide labor for the sugar plantations that thrived because of the rich soils (Brazil).
In conclusion, the cultural diversity of Brazil has led its unique diverse cuisine as a result of the adoption and incorporation of non-native foods and ingredients.
“Brazilian History of Food Culture.” internationalbusiness.wikia.com, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
“Brazil.” www.everyculture.com, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
“Brazil.” www.globalgourmet.com, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.