Sunday, January 11, 2015

Breakfast Around the World: Brazil

As noted in my most recent State of the Blog post, I have a new food hobby.  My Wife, herself a gifted and enthusiastic cook, has been encouraging me to find one for several years and I think I've found something to hold my long-term interest: breakfasts.  I don't just mean waffles and pancakes, either.  For the past several months, I've been researching and, as best I can, cooking what people eat for breakfast around the world, one country at a time.  I have in mind a culminating project for the next World Cup in 2018.  That's still three years, five months and three days away, of course, and only one nation has officially qualified: host Russia.  But that's no excuse not to start the fun now.

Some of our favorites from each country so far:
  • Russia - Speaking of pancakes, the Russians enjoy many variations on the theme.  The Purple Penguin's favorite were oladushki, essentially dollar pancakes.  I preferred them, too, because they didn't require letting the dough rise so it's less time-consuming.  My Wife preferred blinis for the buckwheat flavor.  So, I think if I use the flour mixture I used for the bilini in the preparation for the oladushki, I'll have something to please everyone.
  • Germany - Most of the cuisines we have explored so far favor the continental breakfast, or at least simple, low-prep dishes which lend themselves well to that idea.  One German variation we enjoyed was granola mixed with yogurt and jam.
  • Argentina - croissants with dulce de leche and/or jam.
  • Colombia - almojabana, a cheesy bread roll.
  • Belgium - almond cocoa butter.
  • Netherlands - chocolate sprinkles.
Our most recent breakfast explorations have led us to Brazil.  On Friday night we had a continental style spread (breakfast for dinner is big at our house).  The Purple Penguin liked the smoked turkey on bread.  I was partial to the fresh mango, though it lived up to its reputation as a wicked fruit to carve.  My Wife preferred the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches I made a few weeks ago.  I wonder if my daughter would go for grilled turkey and cheese.

The weekend's big experiment was cuscuz branco, which translates from Portuguese as "white couscous."  Combining tapioca, coconut, milk and sugar, it is most definitely white.  The ingredients took some finding and I was a little panicked last night when I realized I didn't have enough tapioca pearls. But halving the recipe seemed a reasonable choice for a family of three.  After chilling over night, it was ready for breakfast this morning, along with café com leite (aka café au lait) and hot chocolate:

The reactions from the ladies:
  • My Wife: "I'm glad you didn't make it for 12 (the full recipe)."
  • Purple Penguin: "Too sweet."
It was edible.  The leftovers will make for good lunch filler in the coming week.  I won't be making it again.

I intend to learn as much about cooking as eating in this project.  As such, I've come to realize that I'll only get so far with breakfasts unless I learn to bake.  My Wife has, in fact, pushed me towards baking before.  As an experienced cook, she's comfortable with measurements like pinch, dash and splash whereas I crave precision.  Baking is for people like me.  Fortunately, I live in a house with loads of cookbooks to help me get started.

Stay tuned.

24 comments:

  1. You hit the nail on the head with the requirement for baking...especially in my German heritage. Baking breads and sweet rolls were always a requirement to learn when growing up. Both of my grandmothers were excellent bakers. I like to fix steel cut oats in a line crockpot overnight...4 cups water, 1 cup oats, cooked on low. Add a little brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon to your bowl, and Yum!

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    1. I've got Danish AND German heritage to live up to so I really have no excuse for not learning more about baking to this point. Time to get to it!

      Your recipe sounds great.

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  2. Yummy pancakes. Beats the quick bowl of cereal and milk any day.

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  3. I'd love to try all of those pancakes. Yum!

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    1. That was a fun way to begin my adventures.

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  4. Good for you trying all the new stuff. My daughter recently returned from Morocco and she was so tired of having bread for breakfast every morning.

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    1. I don't know Moroccan cuisine at all. It may be a while before I get to North Africa but, at least for the moment, Algeria and Tunisia are both on my to-do list.

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  5. This sounds like a great hobby.
    If the pancakes work please tell us, I love pancake but rarely eat them.
    Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice.
    I had my special and for me wonderful Japanese breakfast this morning, rice fish and umeboshi.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. It will probably be even longer before I get to Asia.

      As much as I adore Japanese food, I was not so keen on the choices for breakfast or dessert. Still, an open mind is essential for this exercise...

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  6. This is a great series of posts! I'm looking forward to them, I love learning about different cultures. But this is right up my alley - I want to know what average Joe (or Juan or Hans or Ali) each for breakfast. Awesome!

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    1. It is interesting. As a window to culture, I think food is the next best thing to language.

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  7. The oladushki sounds amazing and I love new foods.

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  8. Tapioca without the pearls? I wonder what happened? The pearls are the best part.

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    1. I had pearls, just not enough for the full recipe. That's why I halved everything.

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  9. I love learning about all the new varieties of food. Thanks for these posts!

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  10. This sounds fun. I'll try to keep up. I love food and cooking. I even bake too, but baking bread is one of my personal challenges. I have about a 60/40 success rate.

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    1. The Irish soda bread I baked yesterday sort of exploded on me. I took photos. I'll share someday. It tasted good, though.

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