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ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting

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Brazilian food is nice and cheap, as compared to Europe and North America. São Paulo offers all kinds of international cuisine. One should be careful with some highly spiced typical Brazilian dishes.

São Paulo city has above twelve thousand restaurants, with more than fifty types of cuisine from all over the world. Seething cauldron of styles and cultures with more than 70 nationalities, it is possible to find in São Paulo special places with strong foreign influence – such as “Mooca” and “Bexiga” (which are Italian migrants neighborhoods) and “Bairro da Liberdade” (which harbors the world's largest Japanese community outside of Japan). In Liberdade, one cannot miss to try the best sushi and sashimi in Brazil.

Special ethnic foods and restaurants that are frequently found in Brazil include Arab cuisine (Lebanese and Syrian), local variations of Chinese cuisine, Italian cuisine, and Japanese cuisine (sushi bars are a constant in major metropolises).

There is not an exact single "national Brazilian cuisine", but there is an assortment of various regional traditions and typical dishes. This diversity is linked to the origins of the people inhabiting each region. For instance, the culinary in Bahia is heavily influenced by a mix of African, Indigenous and Portuguese cuisines. Chili (including chili sauces) and palm oil are very common. But in the Northern states, due to the abundance of forest and freshwater rivers, fish and cassava are staple foods. In the deep south like Rio Grande do Sul, the influence shifts more towards gaúcho traditions shared with its neighbors Argentina and Uruguay, with many meat based products, due to this region livestock based economy – the churrasco, a kind of barbecue, is a local tradition.

Brazilian cuisine has European, African and Amerindian influences. The European immigrants (primarily from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland and Switzerland) were accustomed to a wheat-based diet, and introduced wine, leaf vegetables, and dairy products into Brazilian cuisine. When potatoes were not available they discovered how to use the native sweet manioc as a replacement. Enslaved Africans also had a role in developing Brazilian cuisine, especially in the coastal states. The foreign influence extended to later migratory waves – Japanese immigrants brought most of the food items that Brazilians would associate with Asian cuisine today, and introduced large-scale aviaries, well into the 20th century.

The basis of Brazilian daily cuisine is a combination of starch (most often a cereal), protein and vegetable combination. There is a differentiation between vegetables of the “verduras” group, or greens, and the “legumes” group (no relation to the botanic concept), or non-green vegetables. Salads, grilled chicken or bovine meat, rice and beans are common in everyday Brazilian meals. Due to Italian and Japanese influence, Brazilians usually eat pasta (including spaghetti, lasagne, yakisoba, and bīfun). Pizza is also extremely popular. At restaurants, it is usually made in a wood-fire oven with a thin, flexible crust, little or very little sauce, and a number of interesting toppings.

Brazilian hotels offer a generous breakfast (“café da manhã”). Its price is usually included in the daily fares. It is common to find a choice of tropical fruits, typical cakes, yogurt, ham, cheese, scrambled eggs, croissants, several types of bread, honey, jam, coffee, tea, milk.

Some typical dishes are “feijoada” (a black bean and meat stew rooted), considered the country's national dish; and regional foods such as vatapá, moqueca and acarajé. In São Paulo, a typical dish is “virado à paulista”, made with rice, “tutu de feijão” (black bean paste), sauteed kale, and pork. São Paulo is also the home of “pastel”, a food consisting of thin pastry envelopes wrapped around assorted fillings, then deep fried in vegetable oil. It is a common belief that they originated when Japanese immigrants adapted the recipe of fried spring rolls to sell as snacks at weekly street markets.


Brazil has a variety of candies such as brigadeiros (chocolate fudge balls), cocada (a coconut sweet), beijinhos (coconut truffles and clove) and romeu e julieta (cheese with a guava jam known as goiabada). Peanuts are used to make several candies called paçoca, rapadura and pé-de-moleque. Local common fruits like açaí, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, cocoa, cashew, guava, orange, passionfruit, pineapple, and hog plum are turned in juices and used to make jams, chocolates, popsicles and ice cream ("sorvete").

The national beverage is coffee. It is usually taken during breakfast, after meals at at any other occasion – frequently several times a day. Brazilian coffee is usually strong.

Cachaça is Brazil's native liquor. Cachaça is distilled from sugar cane and is the main ingredient in the national cocktail, caipirinha (cachaça, lemon juice and sugar). Common cachaça is transparent like vodka and equally strong. It is also called aguardente (‘fire water’). Aged cachaça is infinitely more palatable and practically a different drink: it’s rich, golden and reminiscent of a fine brandy.


Brazilian beer tends to be much lighter and sweeter than the European counterparts and it is always served ice cold. Brazilian wines are not world famous, but you may be willing to try those produced in Rio Grande do Sul or in São Francisco valley.

Yes, you can find coca-cola, pepsi-cola, soda and other common soft drinks in Brazil; but only here you can find “guarana”, a fizzy beverage made from the berry of the same name and which varies from state to state.

Brazil has a great selection of fruit juices. Coconut water, which is incredibly healthy and a great hangover cure, is also very popular. At beaches you can usually find fresh coconut water, that you drink from the coconut itself, using a straw; at other places, you can find the industrial version – tasty, but not so healthy.

All major fast-food international chains can be found in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. There are also many “lanchonetes”, where you have a choice of snacks. In São Paulo, the best snack is served in “padarias” (bakeries).

The regular Brazilian restaurant where there is a specific price for each meal is called "restaurante à la carte". A simple and usually inexpensive Brazilian restaurant option, which is also advisable for vegetarians, is “comida por quilo” (literally "food by kilo value"), a self-service buffet where food is paid for by weight.

Rodízio is a common style of service, in which a prix fixe is paid, and servers circulate with food. This is common in churrascarias (barbecue restaurants) and pizzerias, resulting in an all-you-can-eat meat barbecue and pizzas of varied flavours.

Although many traditional dishes are prepared with meat or fish, it is not difficult to live on vegetarian food as well, at least in the mid-sized and larger cities of Brazil. There is a rich supply of all kinds of fruits and vegetables and products made of soy.

In the 2000s, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have gained several vegetarian and vegan restaurants. However, outside big cities, vegetarianism is not very common in the country. Not every restaurant will provide a choice of vegetarian dishes.

ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting   
International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB)   
Associação Brasileira de Filosofia e História da Biologia (ABFHiB)   
São Paulo, Brazil, 16 to 21 July, 2017   

São Paulo, Brazil
16 to 21 July, 2017

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