Many people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Of course, such folks often hail from countries such as the United States, where a big meal was often eaten, especially in pre-Industrial Revolution times, by agriculture-heavy regions whose people performed the daily arduous chores of running farms and building and maintaining houses. That tradition continues, particularly in the Midwestern US, where bacon, eggs, pancakes, oatmeal and other heavy fare are still served, whether or not you are a farmer.
But other countries altogether have different ideas about what makes a good breakfast, and whether or not it’s the most important meal. Many European countries tend to keep it light in the morning and consider lunch their main meal.
Brazilians are quite similar in their attitudes concerning breakfast, though they have their own variations, which can include meat, cheese and fresh or squeezed tropical fruit. Each region has its own specific variations, but there is one thing you will almost always see on the table: coffee. Considering Brazil is one of the largest growers and exporters of good coffee, it should be no surprise to see it on their tables in the morning.
In fact, their name for ‘breakfast’ features the stimulating drink: Cafe de Manha, or literally, ‘Morning Coffee.’
What’s In a Brazilian Breakfast?
Let’s dig a bit deeper into what consists of common Brazilian breakfast(s) and allow yourself to be inspired by new ways of looking at your morning meal.
First off, there’s pao de queijo (pow de kay-jo), which is essentially Brazilian cheese bread. It’s made with manioc flour and filled with queijo minas, which is named for the cheese commonly carried by miners in the Minas Gerais region.
Since Brazil is a tropical country, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its natives aren’t just coffee lovers. They are also partial to fresh fruit and fruit juices. Common fruits include:
- Acai (ah-sigh-ee)
- Passion fruit
Quite often, sliced papaya and orange juice are paired together, and other fruits, such as banana and avocado are mixed together in smoothies.
Another common food you might see is Requeijao, or Brazilian cream cheese. To most people in the US, specifically, cream cheese is really thick and comes in tubs or rectangular blocks. Brazilian cream cheese on the other hand, is more akin to either condensed milk or ricotta, and is often mixed with guava paste to make something called romeu-e-julieta or ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which is commonly spread on bread known as Pao frances, or ‘French roll.’
Additionally, these French-style rolls are used to make simple sandwiches made with butter, meat and cheese. To many people in the US, these might sound like sandwiches served at big parties such as weddings or graduations, but in Brazil, they are quite commonly seen at the breakfast table, served with either juice or coffee. Which leads us to just exactly how Brazilians commonly have the favoured beverage.
How Brazilians Drink Their Coffee
Despite the popularity of coffee chains like Starbucks dominating the Western cultural landscape, Brazilian breakfast coffee is not made with loads of chocolate, whipped cream or other heavy flavourings.
Instead, you’ll find the following coffee habits at the Brazilian breakfast table:
- Black coffee
- Cafe media (Half coffee, half milk)
- Cafe pingado (Coffee with a little sugar)
- Cafe glace (Iced coffee, depending on where you’re from)
Most people go for the Cafe media, or if they like strong coffee, just ‘black’ is fine. Others mix in a bit of sugar with coffee and milk to make something of a latte, but they don’t boil or froth the milk, so it’s closer to a French cafe au lait.
If you’re seeking to eat a bit healthier and lighter in the morning, you can do no better than trying out one or two of these great cuisine options from Brazil, and watch your health change for the better.