Brazilian cuisine is so unique and varied that it holds a world of flavors, influences and new dishes that have yet to reach your hometown. Located in the smart and trendy neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires is one of the best Brazilian restaurants outside of Brazil! Boteco do Brasil is as close as you can get to traditional Brazilian food without setting foot on Brazilian soil.
Originally from Guarujá (near to São Paulo) in Brazil, Leila Nunes de Melo took some time out from her busy schedule to sit down and talk to us about Brazilian cuisine and the unique restaurant of Boteco do Brasil in Buenos Aires.
Providing a home from home for Brazilians living in Buenos Aires and around Argentina, this small, cozy boteco (Brazilian resto-bar) oozes with the samba beat and its flavors are deliciously found in all of their dishes. With a large majority of Brazilian staff working at Boteco do Brasil, and with all the dishes cooked with love and soul by Victor (originally from Rio de Janeiro), you will experience the home-cooked flavors passed down through generations at this hidden and rustic jewel in Buenos Aires.
♦ What is the current situation of Brazilian food today?
Brazilian food is growing in popularity due to the rise of churrascarias that have been springing up around the world. However, what can be said about Brazilian food in general today is that it has and always will be true to its native origins. This gives you and anyone who tries Brazilian food a unique and interesting insight into Brazilian culture and history.
♦ What would you define as the essential elements that make Brazilian food so unique?
The essential elements that define and make Brazilian food so unique is its taste, spices and essentially for its fish and dende oil (palm oil) which gives Brazilian food a particular taste. Dende oil is made from the oil extracted from African oil palms and is used specifically for cooking fish in northern Brazil. There is also the history and culture of the dishes that make Brazilian food so unique such as, feijoada which has its roots in the era of slavery in Brazil.
♦ Why do you think that Brazilian food has become so popular and fashionable around the world?
Brazilian food is related with the samba beat and happiness of life! Therefore those who eat it feel the same way and are taken on a journey through the different regions of Brazil, experiencing cuisine like no other in the world. With its fresh fish, special flavors, exotic fruits, delicious meats and the fusion of other cuisines; Brazilian food is slowly becoming more popular and after the World Cup, it will no doubt be even more popular.
♦ How has Brazilian food evolved in Brazil?
In recent years, Brazilian food has evolved a lot with the basis of Brazilian cuisine such as, feijoada being quite popular. The quality of the products which wasn’t necessarily ready for the international market has been refined so that today, the quality of the food and products meet and surpass the expected international level of cuisine. Using this popular base of Brazilian cuisine, whether that is eating feijoada or enjoying the many cuts of meat at a traditional churrascaria, Brazilian cuisine is beginning to be recognized around the world.
♦ Aside from feijoada, what other Brazilian dishes would you say are fundamental to Brazilian cuisine?
There are a number of dishes which are essential to Brazilian cuisine besides feijoada. Typically you will find dishes such as, Moqueca de Peixe (fish stew), Bobo de Camaron (Shrimp in Cassava cream) and Prato Ferito Carioca (rice, black beans, beef & farofa) which are all delicious. Also there is Peixe Frito (fried fish) which takes the best of Brazil’s wide variety of fresh fish and delivers a spectacular flavor. No Brazilian dish would be complete without its companion of rice, which features alongside almost all typical Brazilian dishes!
♦ What is it that makes the perfect Caipirinha and why?
To make the perfect caipirinha is actually quite simple as all you need to do is to follow the steps of the recipe perfectly! However the secret that I could let you in on is that you should beat the caipirinha well until it is nice and smooth. Beating it until it is smooth is how you make the perfect caipirinha and get the best flavor from the ingredients!
♦ Where did the idea for Boteco do Brasil come from?
The idea for Boteco do Brasil started when having moved to Buenos Aires, I started having feelings of ‘saudade’ (nostalgia/longing) for Brazilian food, traditions and culture. That’s how it all really started as I began doing some research about Brazilians living in Argentina. I quickly realized that I and all of them needed a real place to eat authentic Brazilian food and feel at home in what is now, Boteco do Brasil.
♦ What is your opinion about Brazilian food in Argentina?
My opinion is that Brazilian cuisine has a lot of ingredients that you unfortunately can’t get here in Argentina. This means that it is sometimes very difficult to make a true representation of the food back home in Brazil due to the lack of foreign products currently in the country. However, we do our best and as you will see and taste when you come to Boteco do Brasil, our dishes are pretty close if not the same to the food you would get back in Brazil.
♦ What is your favorite Brazilian dish and why?
My favorite Brazilian dish without a doubt is Bobo de Camaron made with dende oil, coconut milk and mashed cassava (manioc). To answer the why part of your question, it is because the different flavors that are produced by all of these ingredients together is simply perfect, delicious and makes for the perfect combination!
♦ If somebody had never tried Brazilian food before, arrived at Boteco do Brasil, what would be the dish that you would serve so that they would have an idea about Brazilian food?
If someone had never tried Brazilian food before, I would recommend an appetizer of Coxinha (Brazilian chicken croquettes) followed by a very typical Brazilian dish of feijoada. To accompany all of this I would have to give them a refreshing and smooth caipirinha. I personally believe that Brazilian food is a great way to get to know a bit more about our traditions, culture and history whilst experiencing a great mix of flavors and textures!
Boteco do Brasil
Honduras 5774, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 11.00 to 24.00 & Sundays from 11.00 to 20.00.
Reservations: +54 11 3979-2970 (Accepts cash only!)