Confessions of a Former Vegetarian

I have to admit – I was a vegetarian for 2 years before moving to Washington. Although I’ve changed my standard of vegetarianism somewhat (hey, I’m on a student budget now; I’m not going to argue with a free chicken skewer every now and again!) I’m still somewhat turned off by the thought of eating a processed cow. But the more I learn about Brazil, the more I think I’m going to have to get used to it.

In researching Brazilian cuisine, of course I did what any respectable graduate student would do – I started with Wikipedia. One of the first things I read was this statement: “However vegetarianism is not very common in Brazil. Most Brazilians are not used to vegetarians.” In other words, one of the biggest Brazilian staples is meat. Lots and lots of meat. (This is something I did experience while traveling in Argentina last summer; in fact, I still remember a few of the blank faces that stared back at me after ordering a veggie burger or salad, hold the meat). Unlike in Argentina, though, I did learn that Brazil does offer a much more diverse array of food options, many of what vary substantially by region. In every region, rice and beans are a very popular dish, as well as fish, poultry, beef, and pork. Rio, in particular, offers a very wide variety of international food options, likely due to its position as a prime tourist destination in Brazil. Popular local dishes, however, include feijoada (black beans and pork), churrasco (large chunks of meat served with manioc and onions) and numerous fish dishes, including lobster, shrimp, shellfish, and many types of fish.

But let’s not forget the drinks!  Local Brazilian favorites are, of course, beer, and a drink called caipirinha, made with cachaça sugar and lime.

If this blog post has piqued your interest in actually trying some Brazilian cuisine, there is a popular restaurant in DC called Fogo de Chao – though I haven’t been personally, I have heard great things!  Watch out, though, its “all you can eat,” so be sure to come hungry!  Grill from Ipanena is another DC favorite, and in fact, a few of us from class are headed there for happy hour tomorrow to get a “sneak peak” of what the food (and drink) is really like in Brazil.  Of course, I’ll be having the real thing in just a few weeks, so I’ll be sure to provide a full review later!

So although I may be a quasi-vegetarian, I’ll be shifting my philosophy a bit for my trip to Brazil. In other words, bring on the meat!

~Andrea

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