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5 destinations for gastronomic tourism in Brazil

Taste is one of the most stimulated senses when we travel. Ingredients and seasonings used in local cuisine, especially if they are regional, can provide a completely different experience for the traveler. And, although everyone needs to eat during the trip, cuisine can be one of the determining factors when choosing a vacation destination.

So much so that gastronomic tourism is the third main motivator for travel, second only to culture and nature, according to the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization). The richness of local cuisine comes before aspects such as shopping, well-being, sport, religion and medical needs.

Today, tourists can try traditional dishes both in restaurants and in hotels, which must use regionality as a differentiator in their service.

In Brazil, the topic gains even more prominence, as it is a gastronomically rich country due to the different cultures and the diversity of ingredients available throughout the territory, which opens up a range of possibilities that please different palates. Brazilian gastronomy generated a turnover of R$ 250 billion in 2018 alone, according to Abrasel (Brazilian Association of Bars and Restaurants).

Those who travel in search of new flavors can discover unusual combinations, unknown ingredients or a unique “way” of cooking in Brazil. We have separated five examples of destinations for lovers of gastronomic tourism. Check out:

1- Minas Gerais
Tourists who go to Minas Gerais can be won over “by mouth”. The traditional cheeses from Minas Gerais, with Canastra cheese being one of the best known, are Intangible Heritage of Brazil, and are differentiated by the altitude and climate of the region. Anyone who wants to taste it needs to go to the Serra da Canastra National Park, located in São Roque de Minas.

Chicken with okra, bean tutu and beef atolada are also typical dishes from Minas, a state where cuisine varies according to the region, as it brings together people from various origins. So, everything will depend on the city where the tourist is staying. And of course we cannot forget dulce de leche and coffee, since the Brazilian Land of Coffee is located in Patrocínio, one of the three main municipalities in Minas Gerais that produces the grain.

2- Bahia
The Bahian seasoning is certainly one of the main attractions of the northeastern state. Local cuisine is influenced by African recipes, based on fish and seafood. One of the most striking seasonings is palm oil, present in most typical dishes. The tip is to take advantage of small local restaurants and street food to taste the best this cuisine has to offer.

Among the main dishes, the highlight is acarajé which, although it has gained space on menus throughout Brazil, is even better when tasted on the streets of the capital Salvador. The dumpling is made from black-eyed pea dough, onion and salt, fried in palm oil, stuffed with vatapá (based on bread softened with fish or seafood), caruru (okra stew), pepper and shrimp, in hot (very spicy) or cold (less spicy) versions.

Another option to whet your taste buds is the Chocolate Road, a 40 km route along the BR-101 that goes from Ilhéus to Uruçuca. In it, tourists experience immersion in 16 points to watch the cocoa harvest and the making of the sweet. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to learn historical details about fruit production in Brazil.

3- Serras Gaúchas
Speaking of chocolate, the Serras Gaúchas are another inviting destination for those who like this type of sweet. Due to the cold climate, chocolate began to be handled in cities in the region. There, there is the largest production of artisanal chocolates in the country, in addition to being home to the brand that created the first Brazilian artisanal chocolate.

The region, which includes the cities of Gramado, Canela, Caxias do Sul, Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi, Flores da Cunha, Antônio Prado, Nova Roma do Sul, Farroupilha and Nova Prata, is also known for its wine tourism. Therefore, it is common to find establishments that offer dinners with food pairings, winery tours and wine tastings.

The cuisine of the Serras Gaúchas is influenced by countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Typical foods include chicken, polenta, fondue and cuca (a type of German cake). An example is Bento Gonçalves, which has the route of historic cantinas with pasta and tasting of artisanal products, such as salami, cheese, biscuits and liqueurs.

4- Pará
In Pará, exotic and regional ingredients are the stars of the cuisine that wins over Brazilians and foreigners. In addition to indigenous culture, the Pará menu, considered one of the most authentic in the country, has Portuguese and African influences. In fact, the capital Belém received the title of Creative City of Gastronomy, granted by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

An example is duck in tucupi, a broth extracted from wild cassava, a poisonous species of tuber (but which, cooked, poses no danger!). The dish also contains jambu, a leaf that has anesthetic properties and causes a slight tingling in the mouth.

Another typical recipe is maniçoba – known as feijoada from Pará, as it contains crushed cassava leaves and salted or smoked meats –, as well as dishes and sweets with cupuaçu and açaí. At street stalls, you can find tacacá, a broth prepared with tucupi, cooked tapioca starch, jambu and dried shrimp.

5- Amazon
Anyone who wants a “tasty” destination for gastronomic tourism cannot fail to consider Amazonas. The recipes are based on indigenous culture and use regional ingredients as a base, surprising the palate of those who consume it. The tasting can start at breakfast, with x-caboquinho, French bread stuffed with coalho cheese and tucumã, a typical Amazonian fruit, normally accompanied by coffee with milk.

Pirarucu is a popular fish in this cuisine and appears in the form of pickled fish, dumplings, stews or simply fried accompanied by Uarini flour and baião de Dois. Although it has versions in other Brazilian states, tacacá is one of the highlights of Amazonian cuisine, as are açaí and tapioca.

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