Brazilians are people who enjoy eating and like doing it a lot, even with only three meals. Here you will discover more about the Brazilian dinner habits, such as tips on how to behave, culture curiosities and the most searched destinations to eat.
Lunch time is a sacred time for Brazilians and they may think you are kidding if you say that you usually just have a cold sandwich for lunch. A few hours after a light breakfast early in the morning – usually french bread and some coffee – people stream out of buildings ready to tuck into a large hot meal together with their coworkers.
Lunch for Business
Having lunch with your counterpart is a great way to start building a relationship with your client, and many businessmen use this tactic wisely by scheduling meetings at 10:30 and 11:00AM and having lunch afterwards. Get advice from your business contact about restaurants in the area and invite them for a lunch. Most Brazilians will suggest lunch at a churrascaria, which is paradise for meat lovers.
For those who are not familiar with the concept: churrascaria is a typical Brazilian steakhouse. On churrascarias with rodízio you will have waiters coming to your table with different types of meat on skewers which are carved at your table. There is usually salad and a hot dishes buffet, so there is something for everybody in this type of restaurant. On your table you will find a disk: turn it green for a parade of meats and red to stop.
Use lunchtime to chat about informal topics and just talk about business if your counterpart brings the subject up.
Etiquette at the Table
Brazilians are used to eating good food and dining is an essential part of doing business in Brazil. As a dining situation is almost inevitable, you should know how to behave while sitting at the table, since the last thing you want to do is to cause any embarrassment to the people around you. We could write a book about table etiquette, but here we will just cover a few simple rules you should keep in mind when you are invited to a meal.
Firstly, the ideal is to wait until everybody has been served before starting eating. It is however accepted to start eating if the service is very slow. Brazilians use cutlery except for food like bread or boned chicken – in these particular cases the food can be held with a napkin.
Smokers should be advised that most Brazilians don't smoke while eating even at smoking tables – and the best solution is to wait until the meal is finished. You must also pay attention to eating noises, they are impolite and very disrespectful!
Having finished the meal, you have two main rules to remember. Rule number one is place the fork and knife on the plate beside each other parallel to the table side. And last but not least: please don't use the toothpick even if you find it on the table. If you need to do the “dirty job” you should find the restroom.
We Do Not Have a Tea Time
Eating times in the afternoon are not a Brazilian habit. Some people drink coffee during this period, but since most Brazilians are working or doing some activity at this time of the day, they do not have time to stop and eat something of quality. A cereal bar, a chocolate bar, some candies or crisps are normally found in a Brazilians bag or backpack. These items can be found in small stores usually located around office buildings. These places usually sell every kind of ready-to-eat food and are common destinations for employees who want to eat candy after lunch or to eat something small before going home. Brazilians are big fans of snack times, which usually happen in the afternoon.
Dinner is the second main Brazilian meal and, more than lunch, is a family meal. Just like lunch, the Brazilian dinner is heavy and full of food, although it can be obfuscated by the goodies eaten in the afternoon. Even with Brazilian meals being divided in three (breakfast, lunch and dinner), Brazilian people don't mind eating other things at non-definite times, like sandwiches and savouries such as croquettes and Brazilian cheese bread.
Dinner time is usually home time during the week for family. These occasions are the time of the day when the family gets together to talk about what happened during the day. It is also common that dinner food is what remained from the lunch. During the week, dinner can be also used as business time, even if in Brazil lunch is the preference for this kind of meeting. Fancy restaurants are an option, such as Pizzerias or Italian or Japanese restaurants, which are very usual destinations for this kind of meeting.