Caipirinha – know the story behind the drink

We have written quite a long text about our local delicacies which we recommend trying while visiting Brazil , however, we have not mentioned anything about local drinks. Let us introduce you to our national drink – caipirinha. This is a 100% must-try when visiting our beautiful country. Caipirinha is perfect during hot days on a beach. If you would like to know what is the history behind this yummy beverage and how to make it, this is a place for you.

How caipirinha was created

 

There are many stories about how caipirinha was invented so we will not give you an exact answer. Some sources say that during the Spanish flu people used to drink it to feel better. But how did they know that the combination of alcohol, lime and sugar would cure them? In the beginning, people used to put a cloth moistened in alcohol to their foreheads to reduce fever. Then they would suck lime to improve immunity. Once, there was a man who accidentally drank a drop of alcohol dripping from his forehead when he was sucking a lime. He felt a bitter taste so he ate a bit of sugar – and there you go – a perfect refreshing drink which cures you when you feel under the weather. This is how caipirinha was created. 

Another story is connected with the name of the drink. Caipira means ‘peasant’ in Portuguese. Because Brazil is the largest producer of sugarcane, the Brazilian peasants or ‘caipiras’ mainly work on the plantations of that cane. Sugar cane has various uses, it can be a component of fuel for cars, but most of all, we use it to make Cachaça. It is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. This cachaça was consumed by tired caipira after work, who also put lime into it as the taste was very strong. Because temperatures are generally high in Brazil, ice began to be added for refreshment. Well, but since Brazilians love sweet and not tart taste, they started thinking what to add to make it sweet? The answer came quickly – of course, what was in abundance in the sugar cane plantation? And so came the caipirinha and its name came from the creators of this drink – caipiras.

 

How to make a caipirinha

 

If you cannot wait and would like to try caipirinha now, you can easily prepare it at home. All you need is cachaça, lime, ice, and sugar

 

Cut ¾ of lime in wedges. Muddle the lime at the bottom of a glass to release some juice. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 40 ml of cachaça. Fill the glass with ice and stir. Saúde!

Enjoy this refreshing drink while visiting Brazil. We also like to add different fruit to our cachaça so you can find different variations of the drink like maracuja cachaça. We like the typical one, though. 

 

Do not forget that the best way to travel around Brazil is by bus. To buy the tickets online visit Brazil Bus Travel  and buy your tickets in advance.

 

Enjoy your stay. 

 

Penedo in Rio: discover tropical Finland

We know that the title may come as a surprise, but we do have the so-called “small Finland” in Brazil. Penedo, the only Finnish settlement in Brazil, is located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Let’s learn a little bit more about this unique place, shall we?

 

How to get to Penedo?

 

The city is located just next to the Itatiaia National Park, 176 km from Rio de Janeiro. The city has around 30,000 inhabitants and can be reached by bus. The ride from Rio de Janeiro takes around 3 hours. All you have to do is visit the Brazil Bus Travel website  and choose ‘Rio de Janeiro – All Bus Stations’ in the search box “Leaving From” and ‘Penedo (RJ)’ in the box “Going To”. Then choose the dates and click ‘Search for buses’. As you can see, the ticket costs around USD 14. This is a great place to visit if you plan to go to Rio de Janeiro and just spend your holidays there. A little getaway in a ‘different world’ let’s say. Different architecture, gastronomy, and Finnish saunas!

A few facts about Penedo

 

Penedo became the first true Finnish colony in Brazil. It was settled by Finnish immigrants in 1929. The founder – Toivo Uuskallio – wanted to build a community that would live as vegans close to nature. By 1935 all the settlers arrived and managed to have their individual houses. You can still feel the influence of the settlers and enjoy typical Finnish tourist attractions which we will describe below.

Hotels, restaurants, and shops in Penedo

 

You will find a lot of hotels, restaurants, and shops (house decorations, handicrafts, and souvenirs) in the center of the city. The most unique places to eat at are the real Finnish ice-cream shops and the Chocolate Factory where you can buy delicious chocolates and truffles and of course, see how the chocolate is made. In the Chocolate House, you can try apple pie, fondues, and homemade Finish recipe ice-creams as well.

What to see

 

Casa do Papai Noel de Penedo (Santa’s House of Penedo)

 

This attraction will set you in the Christmas mood for sure. See the house which is inspired by Finnish countryside-style architecture. Visit the toy store and post office where you can send the letter to Santa. If you want to meet him – visit the house during the weekend. 

Pico do Penedinho (Penedinho Peak)

 

After walking for about half an hour, you can admire the beautiful view and see Penedo from the top. Remember that it is on private property so you will need a permission ticket which you can get in the Casa do Chocolate (Chocolate House).

 

Finnish Museum Dona Eva

 

If you are interested in a true lesson about Finnish history and culture, visit the Museum of Finnish Culture in Penedo. See various exhibitions with typical Finnish clothes, wooden suitcases from the colonization period and many more. 

 

Waterfalls

 

Cachoeira das Três Bacias, Cachoeira das Três Quedas, Cachoeira de Deus are waterfalls which can be visited just to relax in nature on a sunny day.

 

We hope that we have encouraged you to visit Penedo during your stay in Brazil. Have a great trip 🙂

 

PETAR, adventures and caves to discover in São Paulo

Let’s say you are visiting São Paulo city, the so-called ‘concrete jungle’. You are having a blast and have all kinds of things to do in this vibrant city (we have written about the attractions of São Paulo here and here).

However, you think that the weekend is coming and you simply would like to see some nature and just have a break. Ok, no problem. How about seeing some caves and waterfalls? Not a bad idea, right? In Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park there are almost 350 caves, trails, beautiful waterfalls, and many other attractions. It is the largest preserved Atlantic Forest in Brazil. If you would like to learn more about this beautiful place, we encourage you to read this text.

How to get to Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park?

 

We have mentioned it before and will repeat it often, as we believe, that the best way to travel across Brazil, is by bus. This means of transportation is cheaper than planes (remember that there are no trains in Brazil) and it is comfortable. You do not need to rent a car – you can just buy your bus ticket online and sit comfortably and read a book or have a nap.

 

All you have to do is to visit the Brazil Bus Travel  website and find your bus. We recommend going from São Paulo bus station to Capão Bonito. It will take you around 4 hours to get there. Then, you just need to take a taxi to get to the Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park.

You do not need to have the Brazilian ID or Brazilian credit card to buy the tickets online. Just choose the departing and destination cities, pick a date and buy the ticket. Simple, right?

PETAR what to see   

 

Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira (PETAR) is a park in the state of São Paulo and is located between Apiaí and Iporanga cities. 

 

Remember that you must plan the trip, as tours require a local tour guide and the caves and other attractions have a limit of people per day. 

 

You will find four visiting centers in the park (Nucleo Santana, Nucleo Ouro Grosso, Nucleo Caboclos, and Nucleo Casa de Pedra). Currently, 12 PETAR caves are open to visitors. The most famous caves are Caverna de Santana and Caverna do Ouro Grosso. Every cave is different (some caves contain beautiful rivers) so try to talk to the tour agent and ask which one he would recommend for you.

Do not forget about the waterfalls which are breathtaking and are also an amazing tourist attraction. There is nothing better than to swim in the crystal clear water during the hot and sunny day.

 

If you love sports like rafting, riding a bike, climbing, canoeing, diving inside caves and many others – this is a place for you. There are many agencies which offer those attractions. 

 

We hope that we have encouraged you to visit the Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park. If you have any questions about the trip or simply want to leave your comment, please do it in the comments section below. We are happy to answer all your questions. Enjoy your stay in Brazil.

 

10 best dishes to try when traveling to Brazil

One of the best parts of traveling abroad is trying new dishes. There is nothing better than sitting in a restaurant and browsing through the menu. We find it very exciting and always order too much to be honest, don’t you? We search beforehand, what are the best dishes in the specific country and try to eat them all. It is also good to ask some locals to tell you what you should eat during your stay in their hometowns.

As we are here to help you organize your stay in Brazil (and we are those locals :)) you do not have to google the best dishes in Brazil. We will write them down for you. Enjoy your stay in Brazil and bon appetit.

Moqueca

 

This dish comes from the state of Bahia, which is located in the Brazilian Nordeste (in the North East). It is famous for its beautiful beaches and it is a favorite vacation destination for both Brazilians and many Europeans and Americans. 

The dish came to Brazil with African slaves. Moqueca can be prepared from fish, shrimps or a mixture of both. The seafood is dipped in a sauce based on palm oil ‘dendê’ (widely used in the state of Bahia), coconut milk and onions, tomatoes and peppers. We love this amazing mixture of flavors and often cook it at home as it is really easy to make. 

Feijoada

 

This delicious bean stew with beef or pork is our national dish. The name feijoada comes from the Portuguese word feijão meaning beans. The dish comes from Portugal, which being a colonial country for many centuries, has spread its culinary tradition all over the world. However, in Brazil, feijoada has become a national dish. How did it happen and what is the story behind it?

The legend says that the poor slaves needed nutritious and cheap food, which is why they mixed meat leftovers with protein-rich beans. Nowadays it sounds terrible, but slaves only got meat that was not eaten by their masters. So they only had ears and pigtails left.

 

Modern researchers, however, consider this story untrue. It is much more likely that the creation of feijoada is associated with the cultivation of beans in Brazil. Due to the low cost of production and the ease of growing this legume, bean grains have become the primary food product for European settlers. It was the wealthier inhabitants of Brazil at that time who ate a dish similar to modern feijoada because they had access to expensive meat. In contrast, poor settlers mixed beans with cassava flour.

Brazilian feijoada is prepared from black beans and salted pieces of pork or beef. In some regions of the country, smoked sausage is added to it. In regions of north-eastern Brazil, such as Bahia and Sergipe, cabbage, kale, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and even bananas are added to the dish at the end of the preparation.

 

Ready feijoada is served with white rice and oranges. A common addition to the dish is also chopped greens and manioc flour.

Vatapá

 

Vatapa is a time-consuming dish and therefore it is eaten rather on holidays. It consists of shrimps or other fresh or dried crustaceans, nuts, palm oil and vegetables which are enriched with bread, coconut milk and greens. The vatapa consistency resembles soup-cream as the long-cooked ingredients create the tasty puree. You can buy acarajé which is filled with vatapa at the street stands.

Tucupi

 

Tucupi is a sauce made from cassava root. It is characterized by intense yellow color and a long preparation process due to the poisonous cyanide present in the juice, which disappears after properly cooking the sauce.

It is often served with fish and duck dishes, but can also be used as a base for various soups.

Coxinha 

 

Coxinha is a popular delicacy served in pubs, as street food and everywhere as we love it. Coxinha consists of shredded pieces of chicken with various additions (e.g. cream cheese) which are enclosed in dough-based on broth and then deep-fried. Coxinhas are often served in the shape of small thighs (hence the name). Yummy!

Brigadeiro

 

This delicious chocolate-milk cake was created in 1940 in honor of Eduardo Gomes, a Brazilian politician, and soldier – “Foreman alias Brigadeiro” – his nickname became the name for the cake. 

 

Brigadeiros are probably the most known and liked sweets of every Brazilian. They are sweet, intensely chocolate, energizing and instantly raising blood sugar levels. Their main ingredients are chocolate, condensed milk, butter, cocoa and chocolate sprinkles for decoration. You have to try them. Yummy!

Acarajé

 

If you plan to visit Bahia, you have to try acarajé. Those bean chops (feijão-fradinho) with onion and salt are deep-fried in dendê palm oil. They are filled with vegetables or shrimps, depending on your preferences. If on a hot afternoon you see traditionally dressed bahianas on the street, frying something in a deep pan, this is how acarajé is made.

Feijão tropeiro

 

You will find this traditional dish in the state of Minas Gerais. It is a dish invented by cattle rangers (tropeiros) during the Brazilian Colonial period. It consists of beans cooked with salted or dried meat, cassava flour, various herbs, and vegetables.

Açaí

 

If you take care of your health and like discovering new recipes which are not only tasty but also very healthy, you have to try açaí.

Ripe açaí fruits have a dark purple color and look a bit like American blueberry. They grow on one of the world’s most fertile soils and that is why they are packed with nutrients. In the açaí berry pulp, you will find a huge dose of antioxidants, phytosterols, as well as mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. The fruits also contain vitamins A, C, and B (B1, B2, B3). What is more, açaí berries are a rich source of fiber and minerals such as potassium, iron, phosphorus, and calcium.

In Brazil, you can try the so-called açaí na tigela. It is a frozen açaí mousse with guarana syrup, sprinkled with granola or muesli. It is usually served with bananas or other fruits.

Creme de cupuaçu

Cupuaçu is a fruit that tastes both sour and bitter-sweet. Therefore, in the north, it is used in both savory and sweet recipes. It can be used in cakes or just as ice-cream (when you put it in the freezer, it looks and tastes like ice-cream).

This is what traveling is about – an amazing experience of getting to know new food and flavors. We hope that you will find this list of the best Brazilian dishes useful. Enjoy 🙂