A new book profiles Fluminense tastes
The seat of the Portuguese empire from 1808, and federal capital between 1763 and 1960, Rio de Janeiro was the first Brazilian metropolis. In 1822, 150,000 people from diverse backgrounds circulated through its streets. Cosmopolitan by essence, the city forged its culinary identity with the mixing of diverse foreign cultures and recipes – mainly Portuguese, but also African, French and Asian – influenced by local ingredients and habits. In spite of Rio’s prominence in the history of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine does not have as clear a representation in the national imagination as in states such as Bahia, Minas Gerais and Pará, easily identified by their acarajés, cheese breads and tucupis, for example. This gap starts to be closed with the publication, by Metalivros, of “A Culinária do Rio de Janeiro: da Colônia à Atualidade”, by Flávio Ferraz – which will launch on Monday (4th), starting at 7pm, at Bar Lagoa.
A psychoanalyst from Minas Gerais, based in São Paulo, and passionate about Rio and its flavors, Ferraz dedicated ten years of his life to researching this universe. He searched primordial works such as Cozinheiro Imperial, the first cook book launched in Brazil in 1839, as well as hundreds of menus, guides, specialized channels and websites. The result is an unprecedented profile of Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine compiled in just over 300 pages. “What struck me, and motivated me to write the book, was the lack of specific material about Rio, in the face of the abundance of publications about other states, even those that are less relevant,” notes the author. After a fine preface by historian Rosa Belluzo, Ferraz analyzes the daily life in the court and in the city, highlighting customs and social movements that helped create the diffuse food culture of Rio.
“It focuses, for example, on the heritage of street food. So trendy nowadays, it has been at the base of culinary tradition since before the emergence of taverns and bodegas, the ancestors of restaurants. And it reveals the origin of the Carioca’s passion for leisure and the outdoors and for informal bars. In countless canvases, Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848) portrays the streets of Rio de Janeiro in the nineteenth century, with slaves preparing and selling cakes, manuês, sonhos, cornbread, pão de ló, angu and even feijoada. “The city has always had a profile related to being outside of one’s home, transforming daily happenings into public life,” analyzes historian Antonio Edmilson, a professor at PUC-Rio and UERJ, recalling the chronicles of João do Rio.
Illustrated by respected designer Victor Burton, the book provides the reader with 500 recipes, many of which had already been lost in time. There are dishes that exalt the neighborhood where they were created, such as Copacabana fish, Flamengo cod or Ipanema kidneys, and classics such as picadinho, Oswaldo Aranha fillet and feijoada, which, although of lusitanian origin, took on local traits. Citing delicacies like the cookies of chef Katia Barbosa, the author makes the bridge between the past and the present.
And it goes beyond the limits of the capital by covering the Serrana and dos Lagos regions, the Costa Azul, the Litoral Norte and the Costa Verde. Finally, it devotes a good section to drinks, recovering traditions like the aluá (a refreshment of native origin, made from the fermentation of rice and rapadura) and emblematic drinks like the caipirinha – that became a national symbol -, through creations of mixologists such as Alex Mesquita and André Paixão. A feast and then some, for lovers of good food. – Source (PT)