Monday, July 27, 2009

Feijoada birthday feast

We went to a wonderful birthday party on Sunday for the adult daughter of one of Zozó’s neighbors. The guest of honor’s mother prepared a huge feijoada feast for about 40 people.

For those who have yet to attend a feijoada lunch let me fill you in.

Feijoada is generally considered the national dish of Brazil. It is a slow-cooked black bean stew made with various pork and beef products: port trimmings (ears, nose, tail), very thick cut bacon, smoked pork ribs, a couple types of sausage, sun dried beef and whatever special meat product grandma always included.

Typical accompaniments include rice (arroz), thinly sliced and sautéed collard greens (couve), lightly toasted yucca flour, usually with something like bacon pieces included (farofa), peeled and sliced oranges (laranjas), and if they are going all out a big platter of fried pork rinds (torresmo). For a perfect topper the cook will take a few cups of the bean sauce and mix in some very spicy hot pepper oil.

This is one of those meals everyone loves and you always make for a crowd. The birthday party was just this sort of occasion. The pots and bowls and platters on the table were huge. The pot with the feijoada in it was large enough to bathe a two year old child in.

The food was fabulous. It’s always fun to spy on people as they drag the ladle through the feijoada looking for the cuts of meat they like the best. Some people like the firm dried beef, others like the squishy fat and firm pork combination of some of the trimmings, and folks like me go for the easy to identify and safe chunks of sausage. Delicious. (The ladle lottery can sometimes pull up some really nasty chunks of fatty who-knows-what.)

To top it all off the mother of the birthday gal is a professional pastry chef. Some time after the lunch was cleared she brought out two trays of docinhos (yummy little sweets in tiny paper cups) a huge Pyrex brimming with a banana, vanilla and chocolate pudding and a gigantic four layer picture-perfect strawberry and cream cake.

We rolled out of there a couple hours later, after we regained the ability to stand up.


TaraDharma said...

Oh, this dish sounds exquisite! I am delighted to have found your blog - I cannot remember the exact route I used to get here, but glad to have arrived.

I am not terribly familiar with Brazil, but happy now to have a blog that I can explore the culture with. I'll be back!

Jim said...

Welcome TaraDharma - nice to have you here. Enjoy!