Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day in many countries and differs a lot between countries. In this article, we will take a look at what Brazilians have for breakfast.
Concept of breakfast in Brazil
Opposed to the American idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, breakfast in Brazil tends to be lighter as Brazilians consider lunch to be a more important meal and is consequently more substantial. Another major difference is that Brazilians are not very fond of brunches and - except for those who start working very early in the morning - they usually have breakfast at home, between 6:00 and 8:30.
Breakfast is referred to as Café da Manhã in Portuguese, which literally translates as “morning coffee”. Coffee, in fact, is a very important part of Brazilian culture and history and as we will see further down, it also plays a central role in breakfast.
Typical ingredients of a Brazilian breakfast
A typical Brazilian breakfast is light and designed to be prepared and eaten rather quickly during the week. However, during the weekend, Brazilian breakfasts are often more sophisticated.
One or more of the following items may be found in a typical Brazilian breakfast.
Bread - Alongside coffee, bread is the most important ingredient of a Brazilian breakfast. Although loaves of bread are among the most consumed, the most common type of bread is what Brazilians call Pão francês, which is Portuguese for French roll. The most common way for Brazilians to eat this type of bread at breakfast is toasted with butter or margarine.
Fruits - As a tropical country, Brazil has a wide variety of fruit. The most common fruit for breakfast in Brazil is Papaya but can vary a lot depending on the region.
Cheese and other cold cuts - Separately or in a French roll sandwich, cheese and cold cuts are commonly found in Brazilian breakfasts. While ham is the most common of the cold meat cuts, there are several types of cheese that are served for breakfast, such as mozzarella, queijo prato and even a fresh cheese produced in the state of Minas Gerais.
Sweet cereals, as well as muesli and granola - usually served with milk or yogurt.
Pão de queijo - A typical Brazilian food which is a small baked cheese-flavored roll.
Cakes - unfrosted and simple cakes are the most common, such as orange, banana and corn cakes.
Coffee - Considered the most important part of the Brazilian breakfast, coffee is consumed in a lot of different ways: black, pingado (black coffee with a little milk) or média (half black coffee, half milk). Coffee plays a central role in the Brazilian breakfast, as it is a stimulant and provides enough energy for a work day.
Milk - More common among children, who tend to dislike black coffee. Chocolate powder is often added to the milk.
Yogurt - Brazilians who do not like milk or coffee may opt for yogurt. Yogurt may be consumed with cereals, muesli or granola. Usually, Brazilians tend to like sweetened yogurt, most-commonly strawberry-flavoured.
Fruit juices - Fruit juices are also pretty common at Brazilian breakfast tables. Whether artificial or freshly squeezed, fruit juices are highly appreciated by Brazilians. The most common is orange juice.
As Brazilian regions are very different, the typical breakfast differs a lot from region to region.
In the Northern region of Brazil, there is a dominance of Amazonian fruits - like açaí, pupunha and bacuri which are common ingredients used in cakes and fruit juices.
In all of Brazil, but especially in the Northeastern region, Mandioca, which is Portuguese for manioc, is a key ingredient in the regional cuisine and also breakfast. Manioc starch is used to make a type of crepe known as Tapioca, which can then be filled with both sweet and savory fillings. Also common in the Northeastern region is the use of corn and cornmeal as ingredient for cakes.
In the Southern region, sweets are more present. There is a special type of breakfast, called Café Colonial, which is Portuguese for Colonial Breakfast, that is served in restaurants all over the region, especially in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, that includes lots of sweet breads, jams and different types of breads.