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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brazilian Food and Brazilian Music, some for clarinet - some not... on Brazil's Independence Day

Brazilian Military Band in São Paulo. Just happened to walk by this. 
In the 9th grade, I had a very hip band director that gave me a recording of the Brazilian singer Gal Costa. If you haven't heard her sing, definitely check her out. She has a huge library of recordings, and has recorded a bit in English. Anyway, my love of Brazilian music started at an early age... and those of you that know me in "real life" know that I will be marrying a Brazilian in one month. After our trip to Brazil in July (my first time there), I have been experimenting with cooking Brazilian food. 
Me in São Paulo. Notice Giant Brazilian Flag

I have attempted to create a day of events that will give you a tiny piece of Brazilian culture. Both of the recipes in this posting have been approved by my resident Brazilian. If you have any questions about the food or the music, feel free to ask! If you are interested in the pronunciation of the Portuguese words in this posting, try Google Translate. You will be able to see the literal translation there, and also hear a pretty good pronunciation. 

Watch Gal Sing!

If you love Choro or Samba, you saw "Rio" recently and you're feeling like samba-ing yourself down to Brazil, or you are just looking for something to do on your day off... this is the blog post to guide you. I personally have made both recipes here, and have added notes for the Americano to help you along the way.

Wake up and turn on that video of Gal while you make yourself some coffee. If you were in Brazil, you would drink one third of the amount you'd pour for yourself in the U.S. and it would have sugar in it. (I'm not a fan, but hey... whatever.) It's not like you don't have a choice though... you can sweeten up your coffee on your own, but everyone I saw drinking coffee added sugar. Here is a little article about Cafezinho (Coffee Brazilian Style). Put the cereal down and get out some bread, fruit, juice and cheese. The following is a recipe for my favorite bread Pão de Queijo. It's best eaten fresh out of the oven, so I recommend making it the night before and popping it into the oven while the coffee is brewing. Oh... and they're gluten free for all of you tender-tummies out there. If you aren't feeling up to baking your own bread, grab a nice bread from the bakery to eat with your fruit and cheese... but you will not regret taking the time to make the Pão de Queijo!

A photo of Café da Manha (breakfast), so you get the idea. Yes, that's cake. 

Pão de Queijo (or Cheese Rolls)
 1/2 cup butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance, and it works fine)
1/3 cup water
 1/3 cup milk or soy milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups tapioca flour
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 beaten eggs
* Tapioca flour can be found in almost any grocery store. I found it in the crappy Shop Rite next to my house in the fake-organic section. The brand is "Bob's Red Mill."


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).               
  2. Turn on this tune by Roberta Sá. Kitchen-Dance if you feel like it.  
  3. Pour butter, water, milk, and salt into a large saucepan, and place over high heat. When the mixture comes to a gentle boil, remove saucepan from heat, and stir in tapioca flour until smooth.* Set aside to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the cheese and egg into the tapioca mixture until well combined, the mixture will be sort of lumpy from the cheese. Once you get it pretty well mixed, knead it by hand for a minute or so. It's very sticky.
  5. Now the fun part.... roll up balls of the dough and stick it on a lightly greased baking sheet. The size should be small, like the size of a ping-pong ball.                
  6. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. **               
* Okay, so it's not going to get super smooth. It's totally sticky and a pain in the bunda (there's your Portuguese vocab for the day) to mix, but don't freak. Mix it as well as you can, trying to incorporate all of the flour with the liquid, after it rests you will achieve better mixing results.
** Now here's the deal, it's going to be weird on the inside compared to bread we eat in the U.S. If the outside is sort of hard (not rock hard) and golden-brown, it is done. The inside should be chewy.

Alright! Good Job! Now feast on your Pão de Queijo while listening to this!

Madeira de Vento (translates to Wood Wind) is a clarinet quintet based in São Paulo. They've got a lot of videos on YouTube, but the website they have listed isn't up anymore. Website or not, they have some really cool arrangements of Brazilian music for clarinet quintet. This particular piece, Camundongas, is arranged by one of the members of the quintet. Another good Choro recording by the same group is of the piece Assanhado. Here they are performing Assanhado at the China International Clarinet and Saxophone Festival in 2010.

Okay, so if you are anything like me you watched these videos and Googled all over the place for awhile about choro, and clarinet, and these dudes... then look up at the clock and notice it's time to start making lunch!

One thing I really like about Brazilian culture is lunch. The big meal happens in the middle of the day instead of the end like we do here. It makes a lot of sense, gastronomically speaking. 

So here's lunch...

Bobó de Camarão is a delicious stew of shrimp and yuca roots from Bahia. Bahia is known for having many of the African-derived cultures that have become popular in the U.S., like the mixed martial art capoeira and samba. There's a long list of musicians from this state as well, including Gal Costa.
photo of Bobó de Camarão
Bobó de Camarão


2 to 2 1/2 lbs of cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp (the small shrimp are best)
1 bag of Goya frozen Yuca. (found in the frozen veggies or the frozen Goya section)
1 cup of shallots or onion, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 large can of medium tomatoes (drained)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can of coconut milk
1/4 cup of palm oil (I used vegetable oil, it was okay)
3 tbs ginger, grated
2 big red peppers, sliced finely
salt and pepper

1: Put yuca in a big pot of water with salt, make sure all the yuca is covered with water. Once the water starts boiling, time it for about 20 minutes and then take it off the heat. Pull the Yuca out, but save the water. Use a fork to mash the yuca like a potato, and pull the stringy parts out while you're mashing. Use the reserved water to help make it creamy... don't go nuts on it though, a little texture is good.

2: Take the tails off of the shrimp and put them in a small sauce pan with about 3-4 cups of water and salt. Cook it to a gentle boil for about a half hour. You may not use this, I didn't... but better safe than sorry!

3. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft in a big pot that you would make soup in. Add the red pepper and 1/2 of the chopped cilantro... cook until medium soft. Add the can of drained tomatoes.

4. While it's softening up, listen to this. 

5. Add the shrimp and mashed up Yuca. Add the can of coconut milk, the remaining cilantro and the palm (or vegetable) oil. After you size up the liquid situation, decide if you need any of the broth you made with the shrimp tails. (Don't add the shrimp tails, just the liquid... duh.) The mixture should be about the same as a potato soup, maybe a little bit thicker. You're going to be serving this on a plate with rice, so don't make it too soupy. 

6. Let it simmer for awhile while you make some rice to serve with it.

Okay, so it looks like it takes forever, but I'd say it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes start to finish... not too bad. Eat it now, it's good.

After lunch, maybe consider taking in a movie... if you have Netflix, check out Only When I Dance. It's not a clarinet movie, but a documentary chronicling the progression of two young ballet dancers in Rio. The auditioning process the young dancers go through in this movie is something most auditioning clarinetists will be able to identify with. 

Once the movie is over and you feel like practicing... warm up with a choro. You can find the piece Segura Ele in an earlier blog posting from this year.

Here's a really fun performance of Segura Ele

I hope you enjoy the recipes and the music! Please feel free to contact me or comment with any questions or suggestions!!!