roots of regional cuisine

roots of regional cuisine
A self-sufficiency and sustainability class.

The top products of the Vale do Café Terroir, are coffee, cachaça, fish (mainly Tilápia) and meet. But there are many roots of cuisine diversity that you find in the stoves of the full life of pleasures in the countryside.

Let us unveil in a few strokes, the unique essence of what you will find. Electricity arrives in the rural areas of Vale do Cafés only in the 1980s. While John Travolta filled the cinemas with Saturday Night Fever by Bee Gees; Elis Regina, Caetano and Gil made us sing on radio and television; intercontinental airplanes, refrigerators and computers benefited from electricity; here, isolated life did not dispense with ancestral techniques of survival and entertainment.

Even today in the Vale do Café, there are isolated sites without electricity. The asphalt on the main roads arrives almost in the 2000s. Earth roads for the most part, are still guaranteeing delicious isolation. Supermarkets are supply concepts considered new in the region (from the 90s), in which the exchange of food, drinks, seeds and seedlings; the culture of the garden,  cachaça, coffee; wood stoves lit from morning to night with their iron pots; small animals from backyards; brief, self-sufficiency are part of everyday life.

Less than 60 years ago, the only things that were bought in the rural region of the Vale do Café were salt and kerosene. Meat, cooked or fried, of any variety, was preserved immersed in melted lard. Urucum a red seed, still widely used, was king. Many cooks, aged 50 and more, say: “there was no tomato sauce: there was Urucum sauce”.

Today it is known that the medicinal properties of its red seeds, help to balance the cholesterol of greasy dishes and fight anemia.

Think of yams, roots, potatoes, flours, porridges, nuts from sapucaias, annatto, honey, leaves, fishing and hunting learned from the Indians (since 1967 hunting of wild animals is prohibited in Brazil). Add sugar cane, coffee, corn, eggs, meat from animals in backyards and pastures, milk from goats and cows. Mix the contribution of originary Forest People, European and African recipes, and you have the ancestral blueprint of a strong menu. A source of abundant energy, that you can still find in the Valley.

This cultural and gastronomic preservation, we find alive today in wood or gas stoves, is a wonderful side of this late development.

Enjoy our list!

Coffee: in the Coffee Valley, first of all, think about coffee. The first question when you get somewhere is: would you have a coffee? A strained coffee?

Strained with cane juice, with star anise, as an ingredient in other dishes, coffee is a star here. A tradition.  Served alone or accompanied by corn bread, or pure cheese.


Cachaça: Sugarcane is the raw material of the sophisticated cachaça that is produced in the region. Numerous stills in the Vale do Café, most with international awards, take the tradition of over 450 years in Brazil, to the contemporary scene.

Melado: A thick sugarcane syrup, which is obtained before hardening to brown sugar or refining. It was the main form of sweetening in the region, and is still found on many shelves. Melado  contains a lot of iron and copper, and is considered an important supplement. Look for coffee with melado, corn bread with melado …

Caldo de Cana: Sweet green juice extracted by mills, that press the cane stem. It can be purchased at several locations.

Animal Protein: Fish, piglets, cows, poultry, kids, eggs, gain various outfits.

From the animal, out of respect for its life, everything is taken.  Head, skin, kids, paws – nothing is thrown away.

From the Paraíba do Sul River basin, a universe of freshwater fish: tilapia (introduced by the Portuguese), fried or cooked, fried lambari, muçum (aquatic black snake fish), cascudo, surubim, dourado, traíra de espinho“Rã do brejo” swamp frogs, small, muscled, boiled or fried.

From backyards and pastures, a parade of dishes from the Brazilian countryside: “Leitão à Pururuca” roasted pig with crispy skin; “Vaca Atolada” beef ribs and spices, “Cozido” lettuce, vegetables, eggs, pork, beef, cooked sausages together with manioc; “Feijoada” black or red beans cooked with pieces of pork and beef accompanied by cabbage, farofa and rice, “Sarapatel” angú with stewed pork giblets; “Bucho de Boi” (tripe = stomach) fried or in water and salt with garlic, in paprika; “Buchada de Bode” stomach stuffed  and cooked, “Duck, rabbit or d’angola chicken roasted” or cooked; “Duck Croquette”“Rabada” oxtail, cooked with watercress or green leaves; “Mocotó” beef bone, cooked with white beans, paio and pepperoni; “Osso de boi com Tachada de angu” cooked bone accompanied by angu cream; “Dobradinha” cooked or fried intestine; “Galinhada” rice, peppers, whole pieces of chicken and spices, “Chicken Feet” in soups, or cooked and braised; “Pork or chicken sausages”, meat embedded in the pork gut, “Torresmo”, pork cut into cubes, and fried; “Choriço” a type of pork blood sausage, embedded in the gut; “Bife de Sangue de Boi” blood cut into blocks, cut, cooked and fried to make steak; “Tutu” boiled egg, crackling, black beans mixed with manioc flour; “Farofa de Tanajura” exotic farofa of the fried butt of the ant tanajura (the flavor is similar to bacon);

Breakfast in the country: coffee with melado or cooked with sugarcane juice, pink yam, manioc (mandioca), sweet potatoes, boiled corn, sweet angú and rice pudding, bottle butter, boiled egg, scrambled or cooked.

Vegetables: nuts from sapucaias, grated coconut from local palms, vegetables, roots, grains, fruits and leaves. Manioc broth; cornmeal porridge with water and foliage; taioba, sautéed bamboo shoots, kale, almond, mustard, caruru do mato without thorn, corn.
Green papaya sautéed as a vegetable.

Flours: manioc, arrowroot Flour porridge with water and milk. Angu.

Milk and dairy products: white cheese and curd.

Sweets: pumpkin with grated coconut (coconut flakes), green papaya, orange, dulce de leche.

We are grateful to three wonderful cooks born in Vale do Café who contributed to this report collected in the field: Maria Célia de Souza Costa, Mônica Fazio, Rosemeire Maia. And to three grown up children, born in the Valley, of wonderful cooking mothers: Luiz da Costa, Neucimar Cerqueira and Waldelino Cazuza.

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