Friday, July 13, 2007

Greens, Grits, and Okra (The "Georgia" of Brazil)

I must admit that I am feeling a little guilty to be posting another entry all about food, but it is on my mind and relevant to my first week in Brazil. (Not to mention that meals are true events here - in the US you eat because you must, but here it is not uncommon for it to be a 3-4 hour experience!)

Last night, Eric and I were scheduled to eat supper with Andre, Carol, Luiz (who will be Eric's boss here in Brazil) and Luiz's wife (who was actually unable to join us because she got sick.) Luiz wanted to take us to an authentic Minas Gerais Restaurant. Minas Gerais is, by the way, the state in which Belo Horizonte is located. I have read that their food is some of the best in Brazil and is very different than what you eat in other parts of the country, but I wasn't sure what exactly we would be eating. So, we met up at Restaurante Xapuri for supper.

It was a beautiful and very large open air space with thatched roofing and oversized wooden picnic table-like seating. We began the evening with some appetizers, drinks, and conversation. We had Luiz and Carol do all the ordering, so Eric and I were not real sure what we would be served.

An hour and a half later, our meal was brought out to us. It was served family style with a huge cast iron pot of chicken and corn stew, a huge plate of ribs, and about 10 different side dishes. It was a ton of food and we immediately began to load up our plates to give this new cuisine a try. As I took a closer look I realized that I could have been eating at Grandma's house! The side dishes consisted of things like: okra, rice, a cast iron skillet of greens, red beans, and even something very, very close to cheese grits! (I believe it was called anjou - a coarse corn meal type deal that was a little finer than grits.) While it was all prepared slightly different than we would in Georgia, it was closer to fine Southern Cuisine than anything I've ever found in Iowa! :)

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