A Feast for September 7

Last night, my wife and I had dinner with friends. The woman made feijoada, a Brazilian black bean, pork, and sausage stew her husband had requested. Years ago, he had spent some time in Brazil and discovered his affinity for the stuff. Knowing our passion for foods from other lands and our adventurous culinary natures, she invited us to be guinea pigs to try the recipe she used. The feijoada was wonderful, as expected. We’ve had it before. My wife reminded me that the first time we ate feijoada was in Portugal. I thought it was a Brazilian original, but this morning’s research informed me otherwise. Portuguese feijoada à Transmontana is the traditional and original feijoada , according to Father Google and his minions. We later ate feijoada  in a tiny Brazilian restaurant in Richardson, Texas. This morning’s internet exploration revealed a Brazilian restaurant at/near the location I remembered, however the name is different; this one is called Blue Charcoal but I think it had a different name when we ate there years ago and were treated to a wonderful explanation of Brazilian foods.

Before my exploration this morning into the genesis of the dish, I learned a bit more of Brazilian cuisine and culture. Yesterday, as I whiled away a rainy, cold afternoon, I read about other Brazilian dishes. I learned about acarajé (Brazilian black-eyed pea fritters stuffed with shrimp). I read about and longed for vatapá de peixe e camarao (a favorite Brazilian fish and shrimp stew). My mouth watered as I read recipes for shrimp moqueca, a traditional dish in Afro-Brazilian culture in the Brazilian state of Bahia. I looked at mouth-watering pictures of pão de queijo, little cheese-stuffed pastry snacks that I believe would make an excellent breakfast. And I discovered that farofa, which consists of fried manioc flour, is sprinkled over many dishes, especially those involving rice, to enhance flavor and texture. If I’m not mistaken, the accompaniment to last night’s feijoada  included farofa.

But if you’ve read this far, and if you noticed the title of this post, you may be wondering about the significance of September 7. That is the day Brazilians celebrate their independence from Portugal (Dia da Independência). I know this because I was looking for a proper celebratory excuse. Just as we use Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to have a Mexican food party, I’d like to use  Sete de Setembro as an excuse to have a Brazilian food party. I would have used dia da Tiradentes, the day commemorating the execution of Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, a Brazilian revolutionary and founder of the Inconfidência Mineira movement; but, that event is celebrated in April, too close to Cinco de Mayo. Almost one hundred years after he was hanged in 1789, Brazil did, indeed, win independence from Portugal in 1882. Incidentally, Tiradentes was the nickname given to the honored hero, who was a dentist; tiradentes means “tooth puller” in Portuguese.

And before I go, just a tad more information about Brazil. Until the end of August, Dilma Vana Rousseff served as president of Brazil. But, as you probably read, she was impeached and removed from office. Her vice president, Michel Temer, was named president after her removal. He had been serving as acting president since May, when Rousseff was suspended from office for her impeachment trial. Before September 7, I’ll want my guests (if I actually throw the party) to learn as much as they can about Brazil, its history, and its current state of affairs so the food-fest will be about more than satisfying our hunger for Brazilian food.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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