Many foodies heading to Rio de Janeiro will quite rightly be curious to try the national dish, feijoada. This meat and bean feast is traditionally served on Saturdays as the focal point of social gatherings. But anyone with a hankering to try the dish on a different day can tuck in whenever they choose at Casa da Feijoada in Ipanema.
To the uninitiated, feijoada is a rich stew that features beans cooked with all manner of meat cuts (in their most traditional form, including a few animal parts that may be less than appetizing to your average Westerner). But fans swear the meat gives both texture and flavor to the dish.
With its roots in Portuguese pork and bean stews, feijoada's Brazilian twist comes from the use of black beans, which are a staple part of the Brazilian diet. Feijoada was long seen as a good way to use less noble meat cuts to enhance a somewhat dull dish.
Brazil's national dish is a carnivorous feast. — Photo courtesy of Roberta Garrido
The end result is far from dull, and adventurous carnivores can enjoy a flavorsome stew served up with white rice, farofa (toasted and seasoned coarse manioc flour), fried collard greens and - should you be concerned for the state of your arteries - a couple of slices of orange. These are believed to reduce the effect of all the cholesterol-raising ingredients.
Whether or not this would hold much sway with medical professionals is unsure, but those with a more cautious approach to new culinary experiences may want to opt for the light version, which comes without ears, back fat and the like.
Otherwise, diners will find sun-dried meat, sausage slices and hunks of pork, all of which are slow cooked with the beans to create something that Brazilians are rightly proud of.
At Casa da Feijoada, the dish is served seven days a week, and it attracts a clientele that ranges from wealthy residents of this upper-class area to visiting business people and tourists curious to sample the legendary dish. Served piping hot in clay pots that diners can help themselves from as they wish, feijoada is best enjoyed as a long, leisurely and sociable lunch or dinner.
There's no better way to wash down the national dish than with the Brazilian national drink, so be sure to order a tangy caipirinha cocktail to go with your meal. Another word to the wise - don't be tempted to graze before heading to Casa da Feijoada. Head here with a hearty appetite in order to make the most of the foodie feast that awaits. And don't rush it.