South American Melting Pot
Brazilian cooking history is in every bite of the country's food. Native Indians developed corn porridge, cassava meal, sweet potatoes, many roots, hearts of palm, many species of game and fish, and the preservation of meats by smoking and drying. In 1533, the Portuguese colonized Brazil. After a lengthy Moorish occupation, Portugal had adapted a variety of North African cooking traditions, among them coffee, dried fruits and pastries. These culinary customs were in turn exported to Brazil, with the twist of being prepared using local ingredients.
The largest single influence on Brazilian cuisine came with African slaves. Dende, peppers and coconut milk, staples of West African cooking, became firmly established on the Brazilian palate. During the Nineteenth Century, slavery ended and an independent Brazil became a melting pot for immigrants from all over the world. Waves of new arrivals from Asia, Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East brought kitchen traditions with them that put a truly eclectic spin on Brazilian cuisine. The nation's multiethnic and multifaceted cooking is always unique and delicious.
Authors Joan and David Peterson present a brief portrait of Brazilian cookery, including its customs and some recipes from their book, Eat Smart In Brazil from Ginkgo Press. The Petersons, experienced world-wide travelers, explore Brazil, researching the cooking practices and foods of its markets, restaurants and homes.