One Bite at a Time: Eating in Rio de Janeiro

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Eating in Rio de Janeiro

If eating were an Olympic sport, Rio would be able to serve that up too!

Whether you are traveling to Rio to see the Olympics in person or just want to whip up some local fair to get you in the mood and the mindset, these 5 native dishes will have you longing for white sandy beaches, sunshine and fresh fruit!

Açaí (pronounced a-sa-ee)

eating in rio de janeiro Açaí

picture by Camila Neves Rodrigues da Silva

The Amazon produces some amazing fruit and possibly the one best known around the world is Açaí. If you are eating in Rio de Janeiro, you have to try these hard purple berries. They are a super food and traditionally eaten by indigenous tribes for energy. As the term “super food” became trendy the fruit has grown in popularity around the world, taken up by health conscious people and cooks alike.

Here are some common uses of Açaí:

  • Sauce.  The berries are often cooked down to make a sauce for fish.
  • Smoothies. What can’t you put in a smoothie? Açaí is a delicious and nutrition addition to any smoothie.
  • Sorbet. A frozen cool treat often topped with granola or sliced bananas.
  • Juiced. Simple Açaí juice is one of the easiest and best ways to enjoy this versatile fruit.


Feijoada has been described as a national dish of Brazil, especially of Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian feijoada (feijoada brasileira) is a thick stew prepared with:

  • black beans
  • a variety of salted pork (or beef) products
  • bacon
  • smoked pork ribs
  • at least two types of smoked sausage
  • jerked beef (loin and tongue)

The stew is best prepared over a low fire in a thick clay pot. As you can guess, this dish is chock full of meat that is barely covered by a dark broth. It tastes strong and is a bit salty but not spicy. Traditionally Feijoada is served with rice.

eating in rio de janeiro feijoada

Picture By Andre Rebeiro

Three Cheers for Cachaça!

Cachaça is fermented sugarcane juice that dates back to the 1500s. It goes by many names and is also called Brazilian Rum. Cachaça is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil and naturally it used to make the national cocktail Caipirinha, the most popular mixed drink in the country.

eating in rio de janeiro Cachaça

Barbecued Meateating in rio de janeiro grilled meats

Brazil and Argentina are in an Olympic-sized battle over who has the best barbecue, but really, it is you and I (the eaters) who are the winners.

Barbecued meat in Rio is so prevalent and popular you will find it everywhere. But don’t expect to find it slathered in sauces and dripping like traditional North American BBQ. The most popular cut of meat is called picanha (rump cap) and is  seasoned with a dash of course salt and not much more. Also, don’t be surprised to find pork, lamb, sausages, chicken hearts and other meats on skewers sizzling and gleaming over the same fire.

Pão de queijo (Cheese bread)

Cheese buns refer to many different varieties of baked, cheese-flavored bread. They are a popular choice for breakfast and also eaten as snack food in Brazil. You can buy them from street vendors, cafes and grocery stores (or make them yourself!)

One more thing….

While you are off visiting Olympic cities and trying exotic food, we hope you are being careful. But accidents do happen and if you get hurt or sick you will want to get back home. Do you have a plan to afford medical transport home if you need it?

Don’t have a plan?


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