“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles
Let’s talk about lunch.
In Brazil lunch is a big deal. Specially in small towns. I am sure people in the big cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio are not obsessing about lunch as much as people in the small towns.
Many people have 2 hours lunch break. I can’t imagine doing that.
It is 8am, we are having breakfast and already talking about the menu for lunch. My mom likes lunch to be served at 12pm, so that the afternoon coffee can be had between 3 and 4pm.
I didn’t realize how crazy it all really was until I was in charge of preparing lunch. My Mom was always the cook, but since her hip is really bad, that duty fell to my brother. The reason why I went to Brazil, besides to see my parents, was to give my brother a break from taking care of my parents.
So, for 2 weeks, lunch was on me. Anywhere in Brazil one can find plenty of good food to buy. There are tons of places that sell by the weight or a premade plate. They are often very good and reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, no matter from what restaurant we order, my parents always find something wrong with the food. My mother is a wonderful cook. Her food is indeed hard to top.
I barely survived the 2 weeks. Thinking of what to make, making it, serving it, then storing the leftovers, and cleaning up, takes so much time and energy. Thanks Heaven I didn’t have to think about what to buy, as my brother left a very well stocked fridge, freezer and pantry. And 3 times a week a farmer comes with his van to sell produce and other items.
“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” ― Oscar Wilde
I rather do anything else, but make lunch. I much rather clean, organize, do laundry, etc. And I did all of that too.
A typical lunch in Brazil is made up of:
- White Rice. ALWAYS!! Made by washing it (until water runs clear), sautéing very well with oil, garlic and onions, then add salt and boiling water. Let it simmer until desired tenderness.
- Beans. Wash and let it soak for a long time. Cook it on a pressure cooker, then sauté some of the beans in oil and garlic, then add the remainder of the beans, salt, plus additional water if need be.
- A protein: beef, pork, chicken or fish. My father doesn’t eat pork or fish, so when making those, beef is also made for him. We make beef in many different ways, roasted, grilled, stewed, etc. We are big fans of chicken fried steak, but it is so time consuming to make and it is not the healthiest. Also, no matter how we make it doesn’t come close to my mother’s, so I won’t even attempt.
- A vegetable: The ones we make most at my house are: zucchini, cabbage, chayote, okra, Scarlett eggplant, eggplant and carrots.
- A salad (fresh or sautéed): lettuce, chicory, arugula, kale, escarole
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” ― Oscar Wilde
We don’t make pasta often, but on the rare occasion we make pasta Bolognese or pasta aioli, we will also have rice. If making potatoes, we will also make rice. Brazilians don’t have a problem with having many starches in one meal.
At breakfast in my house there is always plenty of fruits (mostly papaya, bananas, orange, tangerine and avocados), cheeses (often white farm cheese, and some other artisanal one), breads (French baguettes and some sweet ones), Coffee, milk. Never cereal, never eggs, never bacon.
The afternoon coffee is often a repeat of breakfast with the addition of some kind of cake. Often a yogurt or a cornmeal cake. When I am there, there will be an additional chocolate cake. There are also different types of cookies that gets delivered from a farmer to our door.
“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet
In Brazil there are a lot of things sold door to door. Besides the farmer selling his produce and the cookie ladies (they also sell cheese and wine), there is always someone ringing the door bell trying to sell something. We buy something from everyone that knocks on our door. We just feel bad not helping.
In my 3 weeks there I bought tablecloths, dish towels, cleaning products, frozen cheese bread, and artisanal chocolates, among other items.
Of course I had to join in and indulge in every meal. What intermittent fasting? lol The best quality times are around the table, enjoying the food and discussing the next meal 🙂
I promise that next time I go to Brazil I will take pictures of at least some of the food.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates