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Friday, June 12, 2009

Eating our way through Brazil

Last week my husband Bob and I were in Manaus, Brazil. Manaus is in the state of Amazonas, which, as the name would imply, is in the Amazon rain forest. Our oldest son, Robby, has been there for two years as a missionary for our church. We went to meet him as he finished his service. Our second oldest son, David, went with us. The trip was his high school graduation gift.

Of course, one of the most interesting elements of the trip for us was the food. We learned a lot of amazing things. A McDonald's combo meal was one of the most expensive meals we ate. One of the best meals was at a restaurant where we got meat, beans, rice and a beverage for about $4 per person.

This photo captures nicely some of the most fascinating aspects of Brazilian eating (although it unfortunately misrepresents the amount of fun we had; both Bob and David quite enjoyed this meal, their facial expressions notwithstanding). It was taken at a restaurant called Gauchos, one of the nicest churrascarias in Manaus. A churrascaria is a type of Brazilian barbecue place; you can see the spit with meat on it at the end of the table. The server cuts off as much meat as you desire, and leaves it on your plate. Servers come around frequently with a wide variety of meats (and, if you're lucky, grilled pineapple). We have a churrascaria in the city where we live. Bob and I thought it compared very favorably with the one in Manaus, in terms of both cost and quality.

Another unique element of Brazilian dining is the guarana. Guarana is a uniquely Brazilian soft drink that is based on the flavor of the guarana fruit. It's available in some other south American countries and, truth be told, can be purchased at our local grocery store. In Amazonas we sampled a wide range of brands, with each brand having its own unique flavor. I even discovered that there's an Antarctica Zero--sugar free guarana! It tastes the same as the regular kind.

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