Destination: Brazil – World Cup 2014
Mode of Transport: Pão de Queijo and Calabresa Acebolada.
Usually I only write about one dish, but today’s post is about 2 dishes because: 1 – I’ve never been to Brazil. 2 – It’s the World Cup tomorrow, which is a special world event! I started watching the World Cup in 1998. It was a brand new year for me at 28 years old; fresh out of a divorce, a new boyfriend and all new adventures like the World Cup. It was an exciting year. During that year, not very many Americans were watching it yet, but my very worldly and sports-obsessed boyfriend, now husband Andrew, introduced to me to it. Of course, I’ve heard of it before, but had never known the intense passion that came along with soccer.
We watched the games at several joints that covered it, but we picked a very popular French restaurant on West Broadway, Felix, to watch the final – when the French won the World Cup! It was such an exhilarating game to watch; everybody screaming and shouting… the oohs and ahhs; the drama and emotion in the field was unmatched – so much fun! To this day, Felix is still a hot spot for watching the Cup, but now that I’m in my forties, it’s a bit too trendy and crowded, not to mention pricey.
I’ve watched every World Cup since that first time in 1998. Another very memorable Cup finals was 2006, because Andrew, Bailey and I were in Italy during the finals. We stayed at a friend’s home in Recanati, a very small town near Ancona in the Marche region of Italy.
We watched that game in a tiny bar called Bar Diamante in Recanati, where some locals went to watch the final. There were no tourists there, just the 3 of us and 2 of our friends, Mikey and Joe. Unbelievably, Italy won the final and that small, quiet town of Recanati literally burst at the seams! Every member of the family in every home of that town came out into the small town square and went ballistic! We, of course, joined them in their immense happy dance. It was one of my most memorable travel adventures!
This year, we will be in Italy when the World Cup is nearing its end; it would be quite phenomenal if Italy won again this year. They would have to declare us their “good luck charm”!
Before we get to the finals, let’s talk about the first match between Brazil and Croatia. Since this year’s World Cup is in Brazil, I decided to visit a Brazilian restaurant in NYC. I googled the most authentic Brazilian restaurant downtown and Berimbau do Brasil came up, which is located on Carmine Street. Great – it’s walking distance from home.
This place was perfect. The decor was all Brazilian colors – yellow and green. As we walked in, the place already felt like the World Cup, with a #18 jersey hanging off the wall and a poster. Our server Rodrigo’s first words were: “The World Cup is in about 2 weeks.” We both nodded yes, saying that’s why we’re here. Again, perfect.
Since we’ve never been to Brazil, we asked Rodrigo, “What is most authentically Brazilian dish we can order?” For starters, we had a cheesy bread called Pão de Queijo, which is cheesy and gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside, so delicious and served fresh and hot!
After some research online, chebe.comsays that the starch used for this bread is the leftovers from the Manioc root (yucca), because the African slaves at the time had to reserve the best parts of the yucca root for the landowners. It was only until the 19th century though that the people of Minas Gerais (a state in Brazil) added cheese and milk in the Pão de Queijo.
Rodrigo also suggested the Calabresa Acebolada with Farofa – a Brazilian sausage (influenced by the Italian immigrants to Brazil) served with farofa, which is yucca flour with bacon to dip with. The onions were a great compliment as was the farofa. Farofa is also very interesting to have after the Pão de Queijo because it’s made with what the landowners kept for themselves to eat from the Manioc (yucca) plant.
Andrew and I went from eating what the slaves ate to what the landowners ate in Brazil in one seating in NYC – pretty interesting world we live in now, and that’s why I love my NYC. We also ate 2 other dishes, but they’ll have to wait for another post because this one is getting too long. So here we are getting ready for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Unfortunately, unlike other World Cups, the Brazilians are not all united in their excitement. Many Brazilians are not happy with all the billions spent on the preparations for the World Cup and apparently the mood in Brazil is less than joyous compared to past World Cups. Nonetheless, Dish Our Town celebrates this World Event in terms of how dishes bring our cultures together, as well as celebrating our differences and unique stories. For the next 4 weeks, I will pick a dish from a team that played during that time. Can’t wait to see how this World Cup unfolds!
We’ll be watching from home and from our neighborhood restaurant Pepe Rosso. Will you be watching the World Cup? Let me know in the comments. If you liked this, please share it with your friends; I would be so grateful! Let’s travel the world, one dish at a time!