“I found the word ‘Mineira’ to be pretty foreign, but I can sum it up as diverse cuisine.
It’s the kind of food I explored when I traveled, off the beaten path, to Minas Gerais, Brazil.
People consider Mineira cuisine to be ‘one of the most typical and diversified in Brazil’.”
Dominant crops include beans, coffee, corn and fruit. Beef and dairy cattle are raised in great abundance.
My introduction was swift but remains a lasting memory at a roadside café just a few minutes from Belo Horizonte Airport where I inhaled my first Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese puffs).
Pao de Queijo can become an obsession. It reminds me of walking around Paris with a morning baguette; it’s your permanent nibble for the day.
That with a sturdy cup of Brazilian coffee and I was on my way to embrace a new culture!
Located in the southeast of Brazil, Minas Gerais is surrounded by mountains, rivers, farms and mines.
The Portuguese gave Minas its name after they discovered its prosperity in the early 17th Century. It means, “General Mines of the Woods”.
More than its unique food to whet your appetite; Minas Gerais thrives on the terroir that also showcases gold, gems and diamonds.
After a few days of exploring the streets of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Mariana and Diamantina, I bought myself a small but precious, Imperial Topez! The picture below is a typical scene of men selling these precious stones in the streets and where I negotiated mine.
Baroque Architecture, historical churches and monuments everywhere are a spectacle.
Lunch in Minas Gerais is an event! It’s the meal of the day and the one you to take your time and savor.
Traditional cooking happens using coal or wood-fired ovens, and cast iron pots and pans.
A typical lunch in Mineira would be an offering of stews made of beans or okra, chicken, or pork, beef, tomatoes and spices. And lots of kale! Additionally, I remember a pit stop at a small café grocer that sat on the hilltop of a cattle and pig farm. Furthermore, llamas were floating about. It was there that I realized the Brazilian sausage! Moreover, a breakfast offering wrapped in a warm, bread blanket, the size of the Pao de Queijo, with bits of onion throughout. So juicy and flavorful. Yes, it all drips down your chin!
I packed three to go and appreciated each one like I’d never find it again. In Brazil, people transform sausage into traditional dishes like Tutu Mineira, a black bean, sausage, and onion dish.” Doesn’t make for a great photo-op, but it’s delicious! A dish called Feijão-tropeiro, which mixes beans with manioc flour, cracklings, sausage, eggs, garlic, onions, and spices, levels up from that. They use manioc and corn flour instead of wheat because of their humid and tropical environment, and it has been a staple ingredient for centuries.”
Today, they make sweet manioc strips or Brazil’s answer to French fries. A variety of these flours are available, including the fine, sweet or sour types, called polvilhos made from tapioca starch.
Unlike a typical American buffet, the people of Minas Gerais make every dish with love and uphold their gastronomic tradition. After all, the Portuguese initiated the entire culinary tradition. The Africans were compelled to prepare it, and the Indians possessed the skill to enhance the flavor of humble ingredients. I might have omitted someone, but this cuisine broadens your palate!”