Food & drink

Eat by weight

I´m not a huge fan of South American food and have tried hard to look beyond the rice and beans, deep fired snacks and gloopy stews. The food we´ve had in our hotels has been fine, but often because it´s just simply cooked.

But one of the bargains in Brazil has been to eat in the "quilo" places where food is simply weighed and charged at 60p – 1.10p per 100gms you eat. It´s a mixture of simple salads and some specialities of the house; perhaps a mini churrascaria or some stews. It's very difficult to spend more than a couple of pounds. You take a card at the entrance and have the plate weighed after the self-serve.

Some have a desserts display; one even offered isles flottants (poached egg whites), possibly the lightest pudding available and the one least designed for sale by weight.

Porcao in RioThe other eating delight is the fixed price churrascaria. For 40-50 Reais you eat all you want from a massive and pristine salad bar before being faced with waves of waiters weilding skewers of grilled meat.

There's a proper way to approach this; don't be waylaid by the starchy offerings of the first group of waiters.  Limit the empanadas and the chips and the other goodies.  Don't get sidetracked by the man with the caiparinia trolley, eager to fill you up with fruity variations of the cachaca cocktail. And, most importantly, lay off the salad bar; it's meant to be tempting.

The meat waiters will come round with skewers of  beef, lamb and pork.  With the exception of the chicken heart skewer these are massive joints of meat from which the waiter slices off cuts which you collect with a pair of tongs. 

Waiters are controlled by the little traffic light disks that you display on your table to control their interest.  (The ones above are from Porcão in Rio.)

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