Rice and black beans, barbecued steak and coconut water may be among the common items on Brazilian dinner tables that are well known around the world, but what about farofa, tapioca, açaí, brigadeiro or pão de queijo? Here, we introduce athletes to some of the local delicacies of Rio.
Rio de Janeiro has a distinct and delicious food culture, which has evolved over time as a result of the diverse range of peoples who have settled in the city. Many of the local flavours will be served to athletes in the food hall at the Olympic Village, and the Rio experience wouldn’t be complete without sampling the following foods, all widely consumed by cariocas.
Tapioca is a traditional local snack resembling a pancake or crepe, and is made from a combination of manioc flour and shredded coconut. Tapiocas are often filled with savoury ingredients, such as cheese or chicken, but can also be served sweet with bananas or cinnamon. They are popular with athletes as a source of gluten-free carbohydrate.
Farofa is a tasty blend of toasted cassava flour that accompanies many Brazilian meals. It is ideal for mopping up juices, and goes well with eggs or bananas. However, it is best mixed with beans, rice and meats – which makes it the perfect condiment for feijoada, Rio’s signature dish.
Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, pão de queijo – essentially dough made with cheese – originally comes from Minas Gerais and is a comforting, ever-present part of Rio life. This light, inexpensive snack is served wherever you walk, and can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, dinner or any time in between.
Athletes looking for a delicious pick-me-up can try açaí, a purple fruit from the Amazon rainforest traditionally eaten by indigenous tribes to boost energy levels. The delicacy is served as a sweet sorbet dish mixed with other fruits and topped with granola, and is widely available in Rio’s juice bars and food stalls.
Athletes may want to wait until after their competitions to try this classic, truffle-like Brazilian sweet. Brigadeiro is made from powdered chocolate, condensed milk and butter and is usually served in balls – with chocolate sprinkles covering the outside layer. Bom apetite!