picanha in Brazil or Porterhouse in North America, might not exist in the other. Further, there are regional and local naming variations on both sides of the Equator. However, Flavors of Brazil doesn't intend to let this complexity deter it in its attempt to untangle and clarify this gastronomic bagunça ("messy situation" in Portuguese). In due course, we hope to work our way through the entire animal from head to tail to compile a list of correspondences in beef cuts that is accurate and usable for readers of Flavors of Brazil.
One cut of beef that I have frequently come across in supermarkets and butcher shops here in Fortaleza, and which I have enjoyed on a number of occasions, is called cupim. My curiosity was piqued the first time I spotted it in a butcher shop, as I knew that the word cupim meant "termite" in Portuguese. The red, boneless, fat-marbled piece of beef I saw on display seemed to have nothing to do with wood-eating insects (fortunately!). Research among recipes for cupim revealed that the cut is roasted or stewed, and is also sometimes featured in the menu of Brazilian churrascos, or barbeques. I actually tasted cupim for the first time in a churrascaria, a Brazilian meat-orgy style of restaurant where waiters circle the tables with cuts of meat on large swords, offering slices to diners. I found it very rich, quite fatty, and with a tender, stringy texture. For me, cupim is more a cut for pot-roast or stew and less for the grill. Cooking it in liquid disperses the fat (which can be skimmed off) and makes cupim less greasy.