You haven’t truly experienced holiday weight gain until you’ve celebrated Christmas in Brazil. The typical Brazilian table set for Christmas Eve holds enough food for the entire month. Several kinds of baked meat, giant pots of rice, and dozens of dessert options – let your imagination run wild. Since every family has their own traditions, we’ve narrowed the list down to 10 typical holiday food staples that give that Brazilian taste of Christmas.
1. The “Chester”
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in Brazil without the “super-poultry” to rival any American Thanksgiving turkey: the “Chester”. Specially bred by Brazilian food processing company Perdigão, the “Chester” is 70 percent breast and thigh by weight, compared to the 45 percent of average poultry. While no one has ever actually seen a live “Chester”, nearly every Brazilian has seen a freshly baked version of the super-bird on the table for Christmas dinner. Typically prepared in the oven with olives, potatoes, onions, peppers, and nutmeg, just the smell of Chester is enough to put anyone into a food coma.
2. Arroz Natalino (Christmas Rice)
It’s not a Brazilian meal without rice. But the Christmas rice always has that extra holiday touch, whether it’s added lentils, dried raisins, or nuts.
3. Bolinho de Bacalhau (Fried Codfish Balls)
Bacalhau usually makes it to the table for the Brazilian Christmas, in some way, shape, or form. The salted codfish can be baked, cooked into the Christmas rice, or in this case, stuffed into hush puppies and deep-fried.
4. Tender Bolinha (Baked Ham)
Because a giant super-turkey isn’t always enough to satisfy the Brazilian carnivore, many Christmas spreads include the Tender bolinha. For a Brazilian touch, cloves add a sharp spice and decorate this typical Christmas dish.
5. Salpição de Frango (Chicken Salad)
A cool side dish to accompany all the baked Christmas goodness, the salpição de frango is a glorified Brazilian chicken salad. The mayonnaise base salad mixes shredded chicken with grated carrots, apples, and raisins for the holiday touch. Brazilians also top the salad with “batata palha”, or fried shoestring potatoes. In fact, you’ll find Brazilians throwing “batata palha” on pretty much anything.
Brazilians take French toast to the next level by deep-frying the slices and sprinkling cinnamon sugar on top. Voilà, rabanada!
7. Bolo de Rolo
Christmas wouldn’t be Brazilian without the traditional bolo de rolo, or “roll cake”. Indeed, every Brazilian has their favorite filling to line the many layers of fluffy cake, from goiabada (guava jam) to chocolate or dulce de leche.
8. Fios de Ovos (Threaded Egg Yolks)
This sweet egg dessert often comes with a bright red mascarpone cherry on top. Or several. Made with vanilla, egg yolk, and sugar, the dessert also comes in Portuguese, Japanese, and Thai variations.
Hailing from Milan, Italy, the sweet bread loaf is also a Christmas tradition in Brazilian households. Its airy brioche-like inside may contain nuts, raisins, dried fruit, or chocolate.
And what would an afternoon slice of panettone be without a glass of champagne? The choice Brazilian drink over the Christmas holidays is a cold glass of champagne to offset the hot summer weather.
So there you have it, our list of ten satisfying Brazilian Christmas foods to count down these last ten days before the big holiday. Prepare your stomachs!