Friday, February 17, 2012

Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval Feijoada

Feijoada, the black beans and rise dish (or rather the meal) that has long been enshrined as Brazil's unofficial national dish, is eaten year round every where in Brazil, but normally only at mid-day or early afternoon, as it's just too heavy and filling to be eaten just before going to bed, and only on the the weekends, as even the thought of returning to work after a plate of feijoada is exhausting. (Click here to learn more about feijoada.)

Surprisingly, for such a rich and filling dish, in Rio de Janeiro feijoada is strongly associated with the Carnaval season and especially with the city's traditional samba "schools". During the build-up to Carnaval season, every samba school holds weekly rehearsals in the large hall that they call their home, normally on Saturday. The dancers, the chorus, and especially the approximately 200-strong percussion section expend hours and untold calories going over and over that particular year's samba until the rhythm, the lyrics, the samba steps and the melody are literally drummed into the brain and the body.

After the exhausting rehearsal it's party time at the samba school. Traditionally, in all the samba schools, the party starts with a massive feijoada buffet which feeds the revenous multitude, and continues late into the night with lots more samba music and plenty of free-flowing beer.

Feijoada - Othon Palace Hotel 
But it's not only in the samba schools where one finds Carnaval feijoada. On the Saturday of Carnaval, which this year is tomorrow, February 18, restaurants all over the city serve a huge mid-day fejoada buffet to the city's Carnaval-crazed residents as well as to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock to Rio every year at Carnaval time. Local botecos will serve a simple feijoada for their regulars, more upmarket restaurants will offer a more luxurious version for their clientele, and the city's five-star hotels will present massive, and expensive, feijoada buffets featuring luxury ingredients and often a floor show of samba music. The price varies with the venue of course. In this Wednesday's Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, the journal listed some typical prices for feijoada during Carnaval 2012. The bohemian bar Mineiro, in artsy Santa Teresa district charges only R$30 (USD $17) for their all-you-can-eat buffet. A traditional restaurant in Rio's historic Lapa district, has two different prices. Men are charged R$120 (USD $68) and women R$80 ($42), again for all you can eat, which explains the price differential. The luxurious Rio Othon Palace hotel on Copacabana beach charges R$270 ($150), but their feijoada includes a floor show featuring the percussion section of the Salgueiro samba school. That's still not the most expensive Carnaval feijoada in Rio, however. At the tony and exclusive Jockey Club, local tycoon Ricardo Amaral hosts his annual Carnaval feijoada party/ball. There feijoada will set you back a cool R$500 (USD$300) per person - that is, if you can get in. The party is one of the most "desired" events of the year and is always sold out well in advance.
Feijoada - Bar Mineiro

So if you can't figure out how to get in to Amaral's ball, take the R$500 that you just saved, take a taxi to the Mineiro Bar and treat yourself and fifteen friends to feijoada. You'll be treated like a king or queen and will still have R$20 in your pocket for the cab ride home.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's like the guiso, but the feijoada it's an amazing and really tasty dish, and río de
    has one of the best feijoadas from brazil!