To understand the cuisine of Brazil, one must understand a little of its history. Manioc, derived from cassava root, is the flour of the region, and is eaten in one form or another at nearly every meal. Pineapple and coconut milk, shredded coconut and palm hearts worked their way into everyday dishes, flavouring meat, shrimp, fish, vegetables and bread. If you are going to Chicago in the summer, one of the things you can do is check out the Taste of Chicago event in Grant Park. The event is annnual gathering of over sixty Chicago restaurateurs serving both residents and visitors nothing but the best Chicago specialities, ethnic and exotic cuisines, and the regular family-friendly dishes. It began as most ethnic food movements do with small restaurants in the neighbourhoods where immigrants settled, diners and lunchroom and tea rooms opened by those who wanted to offer a taste of home to their fellow émigrés. Choose a spot from one of the over 500 parks in the district and enjoy an a quiet picnic in the late afternoon. Brazilian food, unlike the cuisines of many of the surrounding countries, favours the sweet rather than the hot, and more than any other South American cuisine, it carries the saver of tropical island breezes rather than the hot wind of the desert. You might even get the chance to see your favourite Hollywood celebrities partying the night away in the dance floor. In Chicago there are lots of sporting events, and some very serious shopping to be had.
It is typical of the Brazilian attitude toward food an expression of a warm and open people to whom feeding and sharing food is the basis of hospitality. Pineapple and coconut milk, shredded coconut and palm hearts worked their way into everyday dishes, flavouring meat, shrimp, fish, vegetables and bread. Brazilian food, unlike the cuisines of many of the surrounding countries, favours the sweet rather than the hot, and more than any other South American cuisine, it carries the saver of tropical island breezes rather than the hot wind of the desert. If you follow the works of the great Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most recommended things to do would be to join the Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture bus tour in Oak Park just fifteen minutes from Chicago. The Portuguese influence shows in the rich, sweet egg breads that are served at nearly every meal, and in the seafood dishes that blend fruits de mere with coconut and other native fruits and vegetables. It is the African influence that is most felt, though as is to be expected of the people who worked in the kitchens. Mark your calendars, June 27th until July 6th this year, for the biggest food festival in the Midwest! Another great way to get to know Chicago land is to have a taste of their food. It is a guided walking tour, and is a very enjoyable to do as a pair when the weather is favourable. The most common ingredients in Brazilian cuisine are cassava, coconut, dense, black beans and rice.
We gazed into a few crystal balls unveiled by some expert observers, as an indicative sampler. Continuing their runs this year will be coconut everything, Asian noodles, gourmet mac 'n' cheese, flavored spirits, "authentic" Mexican cuisine, charcuterie, mocktails, oatmeal with unusual toppings, more farmers markets, grilled veggies, preserved anything, craft beers and cocktails, more flavors of granola, more uses of ancient grains, and creative ways to use fresh turmeric root in cooking, given the excitement over its purported health-inducing powers. Trends that could take off next year include enhanced transparency in food labeling, repurposing food waste (simmering Parmesan cheese rinds in pasta sauce always works), sustainable seafood (focused on "green" fisheries and improved aquaculture systems), savory desserts (spaghetti-flavored ice pops), artisan cheeses, coffee served in chocolate-coated ice cream cones, more restaurants offering breakfast all day (what do you say, IHOP?), more choices for filling "bowls" (beyond acai and poke), pastas made from grains other than wheat (lentils, chickpeas), smoked and flavored sardines ('cause everybody loves fish breath), bone broths, cuts of goat meat, the "discovery" of African spices (berbere, dukkah), chili heat in surprising dishes (cayenne woos ice cream), and - you'll like this one - that trusted antioxidant, dark chocolate, at breakfast. Look for more plant-focused restaurant menus (even Brussels sprouts can be a main dish) and vegetarian comfort foods such as chicken-fried portobello mushroom steak, avocado fries and zucchini hash browns and pancakes. Green Giant recently introduced Veggie Tots, using shredded cauliflower in place of potato. Other food manufacturers are likely to similarly tweak the mainstream. Also, the use of Japanese condiments in particular could continue its roll (ponzu, kelp, plum vinegar), coupled with a general trend for "creative condiments" such as chili pepper jam, black garlic puree, adobo sauces and sambals, sumac and fenugreek, and salsas made from vegetables (beets, bell peppers) and fruits (strawberries, watermelon). What do you think of chocolate-chip hummus, beet yogurt and chipotle-cherry jerky? Don't answer until you've tasted.