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Summer and the Brazilian Barbecue

Any occasion can be celebrated with a churrasco.

I was thinking about several subjects to talk about. Holidays, vacations, natural disasters, but those are subjects that we are already tired to hear about. My mission is to write about nice and good things. In this case what is more fun than the most anticipated season of the year, summer!

Summer is the best season. People look more attractive, are happier and more relaxed. We can’t forget that this is the season where barbecuing is predominant. Nothing is better than to sit outside, drink a beer and have a good barbecue with our friends.

In Brazil, that is not different. We really like to get together and enjoy the good weather with good food and nice people. I will tell you a little bit about the Brazilian barbecue.

Churrasco (pronounced shoo-RAS-koo) was the traditional staple food of the gaúchos (people from south) for centuries before it spread to the other states all around Brazil and the world. It is called churrascarias (barbecue restaurant) because waiters move from table to table bringing different types of meats on skewers from which they slice portions onto your plate.

The meat was originally cooked over coals, usually in a pit dug in the ground, skewered in metal spits. It marinates overnight in a mixture of garlic, salt and lime juice. Once the meat is cooked, knock it off with the side of a large knife and baste the meat with salt water using a bunch of parsley or bay leaves as a brush.

People from southern Brazil have churrasco pits built in their backyards with bricks or incorporated into a wall with decorative tiles around the edges (in the U.S., you can use a gas grill).

Any occasion can be celebrated with a churrasco. We start with caipirinhas, a Brazilian drink made with cachaca (Brazilian rum), sugar, lime and cinnamon. For an appetizer, we serve pieces of sausage skewered on a toothpick. We dip the sausage in a special kind of bread crumbs called farofa, which is bread crumbs mixed with olives and bacon.

With the churrasco, we serve an elaborate meal with different salads, such as: lettuce, tomato with onions, cauliflower, broccoli or chayote (a Brazilian squash). We spice the salads with salt, vinegar or lime and oil.

Served with the churrasco is usually potato salad. The potato salad is prepared with carrots, chayote, corn and peas, and we mix with a homemade mayonnaise, made with eggs and oil. Sometimes we have regular white or vegetable rice.

The meats used most often are either Brazilian sausages, different cuts of beef, pork tenderloin and chicken. In the U.S., you can use a good spicy pork sausage if you can't find Brazilian sausages, t-bone steaks and sirloin strips, chicken thighs and drumsticks, and the pork tenderloin or pork chops. In Brazil, there'll be chicken hearts, turkey breast, different cuts of meat wrapped in bacon or filled with cheese.

Well, I bet after reading all of it you will feel hungry. If you want to try some Brazilian barbecue, there is a very good restaurant in Hartford with the real Brazilian Barbecue.

Editor's note: Caroline is from Brazil and will share her experiences adjusting to life in Portland as an au pair.

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