To say that Brazilian food is mouth-wateringly amazing is not anything groundbreaking. This melting pot has long been admired for its hearty, delicious, and varied cuisine, born out of the influences of Native Indigenous, African, and Iberian European cultures at its base, and then shaped by immigrants from all over later on. People around the world have come to appreciate Brazil’s fresh fruit breakfasts, coffee, brigadeiros, feijoadas, and caipirinhas.

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But as the continental, expansive country that it is, Brazil has many differences across its five regions in climate, geography, culture, and, yes that’s right, in food! So take notes, because we're about to go through the best dishes to try in each of these regions.

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North

The North region in Brazil is where the Brazilian portion of the Amazon Forest is located. It’s a very hot and humid location, with an average temperature of 26ºC (78ºF).

The cuisine of the North of Brazil is perhaps the most Indigenous influenced one in the whole country, its main ingredients being seafood (or rather, river-food with a great variety of fishes native to the Amazon River), mandioca (manioc), açaí, and cupuaçu.

Açaí

Açaí has become a darling of the healthy food enthusiasts in the past few years and can be found around the world today, served with granola, condensed milk, or fruits. Ask any northerner though, and they’ll tell you the only place to get a real good Açaí is where it originated: in the North of Brazil, where it is not mixed with guaraná syrup or sweeteners, and a favorite dish is açaí with friend fish and tapioca farofa Yum.

Tacacá

Tacacá is a stew made with shrimp, jambu - an Amazon herb that has slightly anesthetic properties - and manioc, seasoned with chili peppers and served piping hot.

Northeast

The Northeast of Brazil is the region with the oldest recorded history in the country, with a culture as rich as its food. It’s a region with a generally tropical and hot climate, with a temperature average of 28ºC (80ºF).

Dry meat, seafood, coconut, and coconut milk and pepper are staples of Northeastern Brazilian cooking.

Acarajé and Vatapá

Acarajé is perhaps the most well-known and nationally popular culinary export from Bahia, a street food must have to any foodies passing through - and spicy food lovers.

Acarajé consists of a cone-shaped fritter made of cowpea and onions, fried in dendê oil, then filled with vatapá (shrimp or fish spicy purée) or caruru (seafood and okra purée). Hot sauce is a very welcome addition.

Tapioca

Tapioca, flat pancake-like disks made with starchy tapioca flour have been a staple in Northeastern cuisine long before they became a fitness food darling. Tapioca has a mild flavor and a flaky but slightly stringy texture and pairs perfectly with a myriad of fillings, sweet and savory. Carne-de-sol, butter, coconut flakes, and bananas are popular choices.

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Center-West

The Center-West is where Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, is located. It’s the only region in Brazil that has no coastal cities, and it's generally warm year-round, with rainy summers and dry winters. The average temperature is about 25ºC (77ºF).

Rice with Pequi

Pequi is a bright yellow fruit native to the Center-West region of Brazil, and can be eaten as is, (minus the thorns) or, in this next-level delicious way: with fried rice, onions, and garlic.

Pamonha

Pamonha is a popular snack in Afro-Brazilian cooking, a soft, chewy, and moist cake made with shredded corn, milk, and sugar, steamed and wrapped on corn leaves. It is usually eaten as a sweet treat, but can also be accompanied with savory sides for a complex sweet n’ salty flavor.

Southeast

The Southeastern region has the triad of most popular cuisines in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais. Many nationally beloved staples like pão de queijo and feijoada have their origins here.

The climate in the Southeast goes from tropical to subtropical, with an average temperature of 20ºC (68º).

Moqueca Capixaba

Moqueca is a dish that has a few different versions in different parts of the country, and the Espírito Santo “Capixaba” moqueca has won the hearts of people from all over. It’s a fish stew made with onions, tomatoes, and coriander, cooked and served in clay pots. It's accompanied by rice and pirão, a seafood purée with mandioca flour.

Pastel de Angu

Angu pastel is a slightly different type of pastel than the deep-fried dough snacks popularized in São Paulo: closer to a fritter, they’re made with fubá flour and are typical of the Itabirito town in Minas Gerais, where it was invented by enslaved women in the XIX century.

The filling for this pastel can be beef, cheese, or, in its most traditional way and very appreciated by vegetarians and vegans today, banana flower.

South

The South is historically Brazil’s youngest region, but its typical dishes are no less rich and delicious. Beyond the Brazilian base of African, European, and Indigenous culinary influence, the South also has plenty of influence from neighboring countries like Uruguay and Argentina.

The climate in the South is subtropical, with an average temperature of 18ºC (64ºF) and generally cold winters.

Barreado

Barreado is a slow-cooked meat stew prepared in a sealed clay pot for hours and hours until the beef is falling apart and full of flavor. It’s served with fish pirão, mandioca flour, and bananas, best enjoyed in the waterfront restaurants of Morretes, its city of origin.

Chimarrão

Chimarrão, also called mate, is a popular drink in the entire South of Brazil, as well as in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. It’s a traditionally Indigenous way to drink mate tea if a bit challenging for beginners: the mate tea herb is molded in a wooden cuia, and it is drunk through a metal pump, hot water being poured in a crevice in the tea in small doses so that the tea remains hot for as long as you want.

The superior way to drink tea, ask any Southerner, and a must if you’re visiting the South.

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