Kelsey is a Customer Service Manager at EF Educational Tours in Denver. She’s a Midwest girl, currently obsessed with life near the Rocky Mountains, and a lover of traveling, coffee, food and tennis (Roger Federer fan for life!).
Almost smack-dab in the middle of Brazil is Goiânia, the 11th largest city in the country, located 15 hours northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Like many cities in Brazil, on Sunday afternoon you’ll find families gathered around one of the country’s most popular dishes, a pot of Feijoada ─ a traditional Portuguese black bean stew with smoked meats.
Before you travel, you need details
Goiânia has a great local feel to it, and what I mean by that is, it is not Rio. Rio is certainly an adventure, but Goiânia is less crowded and there are very few travelers. So it was much easier for me to truly experience Brazilian culture from a local’s perspective.
From its food to its traditions, the people of Goiânia are happy to share its culture with visitors. A perfect example of this is when family and friends come together to enjoy each other and Feijoada. During my trip to Goiânia I was able to partake in this tradition, and in my opinion it was a traveler and foodie’s dream come true.This was not a sit down and enjoy your meal kind of deal; it was a cook, talk, serve, eat, talk, eat and repeat sort of thing. And the locals take pride in that. It’s important to them that the gathering is just as much a celebration of family and friends as it is about enjoying food.
The adventure in real time
Imagine yourself sitting around your family’s table at Christmas. Your grandma is talking away and your uncle is telling embarrassing stories. Now picture that situation in Portuguese.While in Goiânia, my friends and I were lucky enough to stay with a local family and upon our arrival the grill was fired up. We walked into a setting of 15 people, all enjoying each other’s company, with high volumes of chatter and laughter. Meats and full onions wrapped in tin foil were in the oven and the Feijoada was simmering away. After introducing myself it was time to eat.
At first glance, Feijoada doesn’t look very appetizing, but don’t let the look of it fool you. The rich and hearty stew is accompanied with white rice, couve (collard greens), farofa (toasted cassava flour) and orange slices. The oranges are said to help with digestion after enjoying this heavy meal.The “I’ve been bitten by the travel bug” moment
One of the uncles was cutting open a coconut for me to drink and the grandma sitting beside me, who speaks no English, was eager to chat with me about anything. It’s moments like this that remind me why I love to travel. It pushes you to embrace new cultures, ignore language barriers, and just take in everything the world has to offer – or, in this case, eat it all in.
Brazilian Feijoada recipe, courtesy of the Navarrete family – Serves 10
• ½ lb. beef rib
• ½ lb. of dried beef
• ½ lb. of salt pork loin
• ½ lb. of bacon
• ½ lb. of smoked sausage pepperoni
• ½ lb. of sausage
• ½ lb. beef muscle
• ½ lb. of smoked pork leg
• ½ lb. of smoked pork ear
• ½ lb. of smoked pig tail
• 30 ounces of dried black beans
• 2 onions, chopped
• 3 gloves of garlic, chopped
• 2 cups chopped parsley
• 6 bay leaves
• Salt and pepper
• Soak the salted meat and black beans for 12 hours (Replacing the water every 2 to 2 ½ hours – approximately 5 times)
• Drain the meat and beans
• Place all the meat – minus the bacon – and beans in a large Dutch oven and once again cover in water
• Add the bay leaves and bring the liquid to a simmer
• Simmer one to two hours, until the meat is cooked
• Fry the bacon with a little olive oil
• Sauté the onions in olive oil for 10 minutes and add to the stew
• Sauté the chopped garlic for three minutes and add to the stew
• Add the cooked bacon and chopped parsley to the stew and simmer for another 15 minutes