The centerpiece of that meal was moqueca, a seafood stew popular along the country's coastline, one that reminded me of quite similar seafood stews from other parts of the world, including caldeirada, which is what the Portuguese call their moqueca. But there's a lot more to Brazilian food than the coastline, for Brazil is a huge country, the largest in South America--and the fifth largest on the planet. We ventured to Tropicalia Brazilian Grill in Los Feliz to discover what lies inland.
I'll have to rummage about in the international food markets around town and try to find some yucca flour to experiment with--it's also known as manioc and cassava--gotta keep that in mind while reading labels. Different cooks all have their own ways of preparing it, involving different spices and cooking it in either butter or bacon fat. I'm sure it will be good in dishes other that specifically Brazilian ones, too. This is going to be some tasty experimentation.
The one dish I'd been reading about that is regarded as the essence of the Brazilian table, feijoada, is served here only on Thursdays and Fridays, so I'll have to return for it. It's Brazilian by the way of Portugal...or would that be Portuguese by way of Brazil? Anyway, it's a bean stew containing both pork and beef, and the Portuguese brought it with them when they settled here.
Since none of the desserts on the menu were specifically Brazilian, I decided to try my hand at making a more authentic sweet. I selected creme de abacate--avocado cream--because it's simple and tasty, and because it does something most North Americans don't think about doing with an avocado. I've had avocado shakes at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant back home in Memphis, so I know avocado works beautifully in sweet as well as salty applications.
As with every cuisine I've sampled in the past few months, I know I've not even scratched the surface of this one. Brazil's population isn't just the locals with a few Portuguese thrown in. Wave upon wave of immigrants have brought to the mix influences from places as disparate as Italy, Poland, Lebanon and Japan. It will be fun to explore how these varied cultures have influenced Brazilian cuisine.