1st of Many Challenges in Brazil – Food

Food.

We’re staying in a hotel with a kitchenette, and while this is really convenient for snacks and cold drinks, it’s not entirely ideal for two months of living.

004TravelCooking

 

We have a microwave and a tiny dorm sized fridge, and we even have a cook top, but no pots or pans so they’re not much use to me. That leaves me with cold food, and microwave cooking which would be easier if there were some quality microwavable meals here, but there aren’t. The pre-packaged food is (in my opinion) nasty, expensive and not healthy at all. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a crock pot, but it seems that Brazil hasn’t quite picked up on the slow-cooker idea. I can’t find one anywhere.

005TravelCooking

 

So I made a list and made my first (and then second) of what will be many, many trips to the local grocery store, which happens to be a big supermarket about a half mile away.

Through-093

 

This particular supermarket chain is a big one here, so the store itself is quite large. The aisles are not ridiculously narrow like our little market in Rio das Ostras was, and the selection is quite good. I found nearly everything on my list except a can opener and chemical free lunch meat. I would love to find more organic and specialty items, like almond butter and such. I think I just need to get to know the area better though. There probably is some kind of natural food store here, but I haven’t had a chance to find it yet.

And this store is a bit like a mini-walmart. They sell clothes, appliances, sporting goods and all kinds of home items. I’ve searched the aisles twice for a crock pot, hoping to wish one into being. No luck.

Travel Cooking

 

What you see above is about R$97 worth of groceries, or £32, or US$50.

The cold weather and indoor living of England was not kind to our waistlines, so we’re making a really focused effort to step away from anything fried or processed, and leaning heavily towards the Paleo. Fresh, real, unprocessed food with as few chemicals added as possible. I’ve been here for four days, and have done pretty well so far.

Brian gets a nice, healthy lunch provided at work and neither of us want to eat much late at night so I’ll make myself a good meal at lunch time here. So far I’ve cooked the chicken thighs and a sweet potato in the microwave, and had quite a bit of fruit and carrots with some walnuts thrown in if I’m still hungry. When Brian gets home we’ll just have a snack. Last night it was pickled beets, pear slices and a few gherkins. I think my next shopping trip will include more greens for salads.

There are a handful of restaurants nearby which we take advantage of on the weekends, and the hotel includes breakfast in our stay so I’ve got a fairly good selection of fruits and eggs each morning. It’s the rest of the week I’d like to have a bit more control of.

I’m glad that I’m already familiar with most of the brands and different foods in the market, and that I can read the labels to figure out what’s in most everything. It’s confusing to try to buy familiar items when it all looks so different. Even familiar brands which may be available here (like Peter Pan peanut butter for example) are still a bit different. The packaging isn’t the same, and it’s not unusual for the ingredients to be different too, so when I think I’m getting something familiar it really doesn’t taste the same.

So, we’ll see how this goes over the next few weeks. Fresh food, minimal cooking, healthy snacks and a tiny, barely functioning kitchen to prepare it in. At least we have a kitchen. Things could be worse.

Have any tips for me? Suggestions? Easy recipes? A crock pot?

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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8 Responses to 1st of Many Challenges in Brazil – Food

  1. Jennifer Souza April 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Do you know how to use a pressure cooker? I’m pretty sure that is why crock pots are not popular here- pressure cookers are so much faster and- IMO- better!
    Jennifer Souza recently posted..my Brazilian driver’s licenseMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      April 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      No, Jennifer, I don’t know how to use a pressure cooker. Honestly, they kind of scare me, lol. I’m starting to think I might have to learn though.
      I think for at least the next week or two we’re going to stick with what we’re doing. It’s working, and isn’t too much of a hardship. Once we have a better idea of how long it will take to find an apartment, and whether or not we’ll actually have one before we go back to England in two months, then we’ll know how much “house stuff” we can buy and store here until we return (which will most likely be around July/August).

      • Jennifer Souza April 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

        Ahhh….it is more temporary right now than I thought.

        Pressure cookers used to scare me- just the noise alone was freaky- but now that I’ve learned how to use it I LOVE it.
        Jennifer Souza recently posted..my Brazilian driver’s licenseMy Profile

  2. Jim April 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Shopping for dinner items at the comida da quilo restaurant can sometimes work. Just get the stuff to round out the staples you have at home (or just get the whole darn meal…) It is usually cheaper to buy lunch or dinner at these places than it would be to cook it. Take it home and eat your own veggies (usually cold and soggy) and beverages.

    Also – ask around for a person who prepares comida caseiro and delivers it in quentinhas. Some of these meals can be great – and usually very cheap. But you have to find a good person and avoid the bland/salty/greasy/soggy/cold beans, rice, pasta, farafa, “salad” and a chunk of fried meat.

    Our George Foreman grill gets a pretty good workout. It can be used creatively and the smaller one is not too expensive. I, too, have never seen a slow cooker here.

    Good luck.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      April 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Ooh, I like the quilo restaurant idea. Now I just have to find one. Haven’t seen one so far.
      I thought about the Foreman grill too, they have tons of them in the Extra. Good ideas, thanks, Jim!

    • Jennifer Souza April 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      Oh, yes, this comida caseira is a great idea! My neighbor does this- homemade, tasty food!
      Jennifer Souza recently posted..my Brazilian driver’s licenseMy Profile

  3. Jim April 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Pressure cookers are great when you have little time and want to make a fresh batch of beans or get that big chunk of meat done fast. The advantage of the slow cooker is that you can throw things in before you go to work and when you get home they are ready and waiting for you. And the slow cooking can get at flavors pressure cookers only dream about. If you buy a pressure cooker, get a good one (avoid used) and follow the instructions! You may find the apartment size version is just fine. No need for a big family size pot.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      April 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      I’m a very lazy cook, so the slow cooker is much more to my liking!

      Just like everything else, I’ll probably eventually start using a pressure cooker too. I just have to get my comfort level adjusted properly and be ready for it. One thing at a time! :)
      akil3655 recently posted..Getting to Know JundiaíMy Profile