Barzinho, boteco, botequim: beloved institutions that Brazilians couldn’t live without
There’s something magical about Brazilian cuisine, and that’s why food and drink was one of the headline themes of BBMag’s June 2018 issue, when we reported on a range of national staples from the simplicity of afternoon coffee to the sweet smell of fresh bread and hearty feijoada. This time round, however, we’ve selected a wider range of popular foods to tempt our readers.
Whether in a bar with friends, at home with family, at a corporate event or even a children’s party, there are multiple snacks to choose from. Coxinhas (shredded chicken encased in fried potato balls), cheese balls, cheese breads, potato breads and so many other tasty options for hosts wanting to put on a diverse and mouth-watering spread. Brazilian finger food is the perfect fuel for friendly chit chat and the perfect accompaniment to a refreshing cold beer.
Botecos are nothing new to people familiar with Brazil, but it’s interesting to note that the growth of these establishments during the 1980s went hand in hand with the ‘boom’ of counterculture music. Unlike with most British pubs, where the principal purpose and activity is primarily drinking alcohol, botecos are places that tend to serve a multitude of purposes; they might be a convenient meeting point after work, or simply a place to relax and let off steam.
Thankfully, at some point in time, someone had the inspired idea of serving savoury snacks alongside drinks, and so these bars established a new trend on Brazilian soil which quickly gained popularity. The best thing, as with British pubs, they are almost omnipresent and can be found in virtually every corner of every city.
In addition to the coxinhas and cheese balls, patrons often opt for chicken wings served with fried manioc.
The choice of bolinhos (fried balls with different fillings) can be overwhelming! They are perfect for all palates, and can be filled with meat, cod, garlic, manioc, chicken, dried meat, crab, tuna… And if that wasn’t enough, you can order small or large pastéis (fried crispy pockets with various fillings), small pies that mask a host of delectable ingredients, and even mini pizza slices too. Even so, one of the most popular appetizers to accompany a cold beer or caipirinha is still a portion of French fries (with option bacon and cheese topping), immortalized by the band Blitz, another hallmark of the 1980s.
For meat lovers, either tender strips of beef fillet in madeira sauce or succulent slices of picanha would be the way to go, both of which can be cooked to the client’s point of preference. For barbeque aficionados, there are also places that specialise in preparing skewered meat, or kebabs.
The drinks menu, in turn, is even more copious. Naturally, there is a range of cold drinks, but the cocktail menu is extensive, which includes, of course, the most noble of Brazilian drinks, the caipirinha. A knack and creativity for developing variations of these drinks is what sets Brazilians apart, because there are so many variants and ingredients to experiment with. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, though, simply order the house draft beer, which is traditionally stored in a barrel and served at stupidly chilled temperatures.
For those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, there’s a wide selection of juices and soft drinks to choose from, made from some of the most distinctly tropical fruits. When served cold, they are a match for any beer. There was also a boom period for the soft drinks industry in the 1980s, with the launch of products that are no longer available such as Grapette (similar to Fanta Grape), and Crush (similar to Fanta Orange), Tubaína, Guaraná Taí, and several others that those old enough to remember miss fondly.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is to spend time with friends. Even after years apart, there’s nothing better than reconnecting with that group of mates you used to share so many great moments with. Socialising is, after all, the perfect activity to help us switch off. The same goes for meeting up with colleagues after work, or meeting age old friends at the beach, in the morning, in the afternoon, at night, at dawn… Surely food will be part of the equation at some point, probably washed down with a refreshing drink and, without doubt, some great conversation.