Feijoada is not an everyday meal. It takes a long time to cook, is super heavy, and is served at most restaurants only twice a week (a holdover on the old catholic weekly dietary restrictions, here in Brasil). It isn't fast food. It puts you in a coma after eating. It requires all of your bodily functions to be in tip-top shape, since it takes a good deal of work to digest.
It's one of my absolute favorite meals of the week.
Feijoada is Brasil's national dish. Derived from bean stew with all sorts of leftover pork and beef products, it is one of the most soulful foods around. Some of its ingredients include: black turtle beans, salted pork and beef bits, trimmings, ears, tail, feet, fat, bacon, ribs, smoked sausage, and jerked beef.
It is cooked over a slow fire in a thick clay or iron pot until a purplish brown filmy broth lays itself across the cauldron, and broken once the lucky ladle is dipped to taste.
It is served alongside kale or couve (collard greens).
Lightly fried manioc flour (farofa).
Fried manioc roots.
Deep fried bananas provide a sweet balance.
Pimenta (spicy sauce) provides the heat.
This epic meal in particular came from a day trip out to Estudio Gloria. Tucked up and away in the red earth dirt roads just 40 minutes outside of São Paulo, Estudio Gloria is an expansive two-acred paradise compound that is primarily a shop for refurbished furniture, but also an outdoor cafe serving feijoada.
Upon entering you are instructed to drive up the steep cobbled brick driveway where the property reveals the brightly painted cottages, lush green gardens, a swimming pool, and colorful outdoor cafe.
The cafe was just past the pool, where a colorfully-patterned, set table awaited us.
Watching over us was a statue of Iemanja ,the African- Brazilian goddess of the sea, adorned with sea shells.
I filled my plate, topped the feijoada with the housemade hot sauce, and heaved it into my starved body which was feeling faminto (hungry) after the drive out. Score!
I washed it down with a cool quenching glass of orange juice.
Historical myth states that this dish is a variation of stew from Europe, and reinterpreted by plantation slaves from the North Eastern Bahia region using scraps from their owner's tables cooked this luxurious meal. This story is highly contested, but all historians agree that the taste is killer and you need a nap soon after!
In the tiled alcove kitchen were our feijoada specialists, Adriana and Silvia, from Minas Gerais.
(She insisted I wait for her to take out her retainer before we took the shot).
With Iemanja's approval we visited the kitchen after the meal. In the three black cauldrons were three types of feijoada: fatty, lean, and vegetarian.
Over time, this meal has worked itself across all social classes, and it has even reached the most elegant restaurants of Brasil. Feijoada is classless. Everyone loves this. Even vegetarians.
Should I even return to the city? I mean there's a pool here, cooks from Minas, and hammocks.
After the hammock power nap, we got to what led us to the glorious Estudio Gloria to begin with: Furniture. Designer Karina Arruda and her husband Andre opened their doors a year and a half ago and have gained a lot of national and international attention.
As we walked inside we were blown away at the amazing collaboration of old and newly reupholstered 50's, 60's and 70's treasures around every corner.
The dead-stock fabrics are all carefully chosen and patched together to make truly unique and personalized furniture.
After the tour (and a mental wishlist), we sat down for coffee and Brigadeiro (a thick chocolate and condensed milk pudding) and Brasilian Flan.
Estudio Gloria is a heavenly hamlet where all tastes are met.
*Bryan lived in Tokyo for several years before moving to São Paulo with his wife. His primary mode of transportation is his bike.