Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Promise Fulfilled - Buchada

Back in October of 2009, in the very first month of this blog's existance, I wrote a post about a dish called buchada - one of the most well-known traditional dishes of Ceará, the northeastern Brazilian state where Flavors of Brazil originates. (Click here to read the post). At the time that the post was published, I rashly promised that although I'd never eaten buchada, I would do so in due course and report the results to the blog's readers.

A firm believer in the better-late-than-never philosophy of life, I can now report that I have done as I promised there - I have eaten buchada. Not only that, I've lived to tell the tale.

What might make buchada something that one might promise to eat, and then take nearly three years to fulfil the promise? Let's just say it's because the dish is simply offal (sorry, can't resist a bad pun). The dish's name buchada derives from the Portuguese word bucho, meaning meaning animal stomach, and that's exactly what buchada is: an animal's stomach stuffed with the same animal's innards - things like intestines, lungs, spleen, heart etc. - sewn up like a purse and cooked.

You might call buchada Brazil's answer to Scotland's haggis, though the difference is that the innards in buchada are coarsely chopped and there's nothing added to them to create the stuffing, whereas in haggis they're finely chopped and mixed with oatmeal before being stuffed into the stomach.

In any case, for someone who's never been a big fan of offal, buchada was a challenge, or rather, the idea of eating buchada  was a challenge. In the end, at a holiday luncheon today at the house of a friend, the main dish was homemade buchada, and having it served at the table meant that it would be impolite to refuse it. Not only that, in term of the promise made here at Flavors of Brazil three years ago, it would have been cowardly to refuse. So, with a half lamb stomach's worth of buchada staring up at me from my plate, I managed not to disgrace myself among the tableful of buchada-lovers. I cleaned my plate, to the delight of my fellow guests who'd been placing bets on whether the gringo would be able to down a plateful of buchada.

In the end, what was it like? It certainly wasn't awful tasting - in fact it really didn't have that much taste at all; it was quite bland. The stomach itself was quite tender, but some of the bits inside, which I tried not to look at too closely or identify, were chewy, almost rubbery. The seasoning was simple, just some onion, garlic and salt and pepper as far as I could tell, although there was a delicious gravy served alongside. Cultural or other problems in eating animal organs aside, there was really nothing special about the dish. It was neither delicious or revolting, just somewhat characterless and lacking in flavor. My worries about eating buchada were, in the end, much ado about nothing. At the lunch table, though, it was clear my somewhat negative opinion about the culinary merits of buchada was a minority opinion - the rest of the diners all seemed to love it, and heartily praised the cook. I'm thinking perhaps, like many offbeat traditional foods, you must have to have been raised on the stuff to truly appreciate it.

As for me, buchada is now mission accomplished. The promise to eat it for this blog's readers isn't hanging over me any longer - I can now gracefully say, next time a serving of buchada is offered to me, no thanks!


  1. I take it this means you won't be providing us a recipe of your version of buchada after much kitchen experimentation?

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  2. Dan - You take it right!

  3. Wowow. Wait Wait Wait. If that specific buchada tasted ''bland'' that is its own problem. They normally have an explosive and intense flavor, that only meat innards can provide. Please, try again. :P