Original recipe to organize a churrasco in Rio
The churrasco is THE great specialty of Brazil. No matter what people say, soccer even seemed to me to lose out to the proposal of a good churrasco. But what is it ? It’s simply a barbecue ! Brazilians are crazy about meat: chicken and beef dominate, followed by pork. When I say they are crazy about it, the barbecue could almost become a criterion of choice before moving somewhere… No kidding, the Rio cousins’ residence was equipped with a swimming pool in the center of the block, and a common barbecue !
There is always a good reason to organize a churrasco. During my 4 weeks stay in Brazil, I had the right to all the versions: in front of the house with my family, in the restaurant in the famous “churrascaria”), and in the middle of the street with family and friends . It is this last version that I want to share with you. It was an evening as unusual as unpredictable for me, the European who arrives in the daily life of the carciocas 🙂
It all starts with a simple invitation to the Aunt’s house, while I’m staying with my friend’s cousins, in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s a party, there will be family and friends of the family“. Without specifying that it is Luis’s birthday party, and nothing less than his 50th birthday ! But this, I discover it only on the spot…
First of all, it is necessary to know that a Brazilian churrasco requires a good preparation, and thus some shopping. Here is the local recipe in 10 steps of a good churrasco, with carioca sauce. Guaranteed 100% authentic story for one month of October in Brazil.
Step 1: shop accordingly !
Brazilians eat a lot, even a lot ! You will realize this when you go to the restaurant: they almost all offer self-service and rodizio (the waiter goes through the tables with food), and you have to refill at least twice to be in the norm. So, think large for a barbecue with friends. The first step is to go to the local supermarket to buy meat: sausages, steaks, cobblestones, whatever you think is good. Be aware that Brazilians love a good piece of beef called “picanha” ! This is a special part of the beef: a cut on the top of the hind leg, close to the tail.
Be warned, there are not many vegetarians on site.
Step 2: take care of the drinks
Change the shelves for the drinks. You’ll need two types: energy drinks and especially beer. Sodas are a hit in Brazil with the local Guaraná Antarctica being the most popular, any other sweet soft drink will do.
For the beers, the three main ones are the Antartica (not very tasty, very light), the Brahma (stronger and therefore less liked), and then the Skoll (between the two). As for the meat, plan in quantity 😉
Little advice, don’t forget the plastic glasses because it’s not customary to drink from your own can or bottle ! A can of beer is not individual but to share. Why ? Simply because it is hot, sometimes very very hot, so the beers heat up quickly and it is better to keep them cool and drink (many) small quantities.
Step 3: Plan for side dishes ?
It is not necessarily necessary because the hosts will have already prepared everything. Going for a ride in the car, in the subway or in the bus with a potato salad, you might as well avoid it. So, with a churrasco, Brazilians in Rio eat several types of accompaniments: manioc cooked in water in a casserole (excellent), rice, a vinaigrette (including a tomato-onion-cilantro-sauce salad), a potato salad with pieces of apple, in short, only good things !
Step 4: prepare the ice trays
Between two stretches of road (Rio is huge), stop to buy some cheap ice cream, because yes, it can be very hot ! The bathtub, big garbage cans or big plastic bins will be full of ice and beers as soon as you arrive.
The churrasco lasts a long time, it is above all a big meeting with family and friends. There is no table set, it is very free and light years away from the traditional French family meal.
Step 5: Start the music !
In theory, you don’t have to worry about it because the music is everywhere. Samba, bossa nova, carioca funk or pop songs, Brazilians are much more open-minded than in Brazil. Music is much more varied than in France (maybe because the top 50 is not monopolized by two majors ?).
If there is music, you will also have to start dancing a little ! Prepare your sneakers, or rather your flip-flops, to move !
Step 6: block the street because !
In the house, it’s too hot (and it’s too small anyway), there’s no garden, and the street is much easier.
The family decided to park the cars in the middle of the road, on each side of the barbecue ! Advantage N°1 : children are safe playing in the middle of the street. Advantage N°2 : no one passes by anymore. The few motorcycles showing up at the end of the street turned around in seconds, before even fully entering the street 😛
Step 7: start the barbecue
Once the street is secured, the beers are chilled and the meat has arrived, it’s time to throw the embers ! Placed on the other side of the street, sheltered under large trees in case of rain, the barbecue is started.
The men take turns in reddening the embers until the fire is hot enough to accommodate the meat and the few vegetables to be grilled. A good opportunity to meet and talk soccer. Because this sport is a culture in its own right in Brazil and in particular in Rio de Janeiro, which is home to several major clubs: Fluminense, Flamengo, Botofago, etc. A churrasco is the occasion for great debates between fans and songs sung at the top of their voices ! It is also the place to exchange some anecdotes, like the cousin who remembers playing soccer in the street with Thiago Silva, today international soccer player !
Step 8: pulling a tarp in case of rain
The discussions are suddenly stopped so that a few dozen of the participants mobilize to pull a large tarp on the street. It would be a pity if all the efforts to make barbecue embers were wiped out by a wild rain…
Fortunately, the rain doesn’t last, and the party goes on !
Step 9: celebrate the perfect churrasco
Don’t forget to chat up the fans of the local soccer teams, it’s part of the game. If you are the only foreigner, and even if you don’t speak Portuguese, be reassured, the Brazilians are very friendly and will try to establish a dialogue in any case !
Google Translate can also be a great help. Beer too 😉
Step 10: get in safely
Get a ride from someone who hasn’t been drinking (good luck finding him or her). Fortunately, the cousins were reasonable and respectful while driving. If you are in a bind, don’t forget that VTCs are rather well developed in Rio de Janeiro and in other big cities in Brazil.
Avoid walking home ! Rio de Janeiro has a bad reputation, it would be a shame to take unnecessary risks (read my article Rio is dangerous).