My first visit to Brazil was nearly 15 years ago! We stayed along the beach in a small town right outside of Rio de Janeiro. The view was truly amazing.
Right below our hotel room was a soccer field that seemed to be busy all day long. Gold and green jerseys flooded the field that was packed with children and adults. In walking distance of the hotel was a bustling market that was chock full of fruits and vegetables, some of which I never seen before.
The seafood section was the most exciting section of the market. There were species of fish that were so colorful that they reminded me of the tiny versions found in fish bowls. Squid, octopus and other foreign shellfish sat propped up with lots of ice next to more recognizable varieties like grouper.
What is moqueca?
Inspired buy the trip to the market, we had a stew for supper called moqueca. It is a dish made with seasonal seafood, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, and in the northern state of Bahia, coconut milk. The soup was delicious and had a district flavor from the dende oil, which is thick, dark, reddish-orange oil that is extracted from the pulp of the palm tree grown in Africa and in Brazil.
Along with the stew we had the national beverage called caipirinha pronounced Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya. It is made with lime, sugar and cachaça. Cachaça is a Brazilian distilled spirit made from the fermented juice of sugarcane. It has a flavor reminiscent of rum ― rum is also made from sugarcane ― but it is more robust because it’s made from raw sugarcane (and not a byproduct, such as molasses, like rum is).
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