Wherever we go, we try – when we’re in the mood – to eat authentic. By which I mean we try to eat native foods. This happens in Spokane, too – even if we do nothing more than make a quick trip to Dick’s Burgers.
In Brazil, we were interested in trying a dish called feijoada, which our guidebooks described as a kind of stew, filled with various types of vegetable and meats. And, yeah, it was. Filled, I mean. To the brim.
The place at which we ate was listed in our guidebook as one of the don’t-miss spots. We were the only ones there, but that came as no surprise: We were trying to get dinner at just after 7 p.m. – early by Rio de Janeiro standards. Quite early, in fact, as the guidebook said that Brazilians don’t tend to eat until 9 or 10 p.m. But, then, the book we consulted also said that Brazilians don’t eat heavy meals that late, which we discovered was pure horsehockey.
I saw people – Brazilians, not American tourists in shorts and Hawaiian shirts – stuffing themselves in Brazilian specialties, buffets, as late as 11.
Anyway, at this particular dinner I made the mistake of ordering a salad AND a bowl of the feijoada. And I do mean mistake, because what I was served could have fed my entire basic-training company. The salad, which I had ordered as an appetizer, included more greens that you’re likely to find on any half-dozen Ritzville farms, complete with cheese and ham slices.
The feijoada itself came in a virtual bucket that seemed bottomless, filled as it was with a few stewed carrots and about 17 different kinds of meat swimming in a thick gravy. I tasted beef and pork and what might have been lamb, along with sausages whose source I couldn’t begin to identify – except to say that they contained enough salt to gag Lot’s wife.
Not surprisingly, I couldn’t finish the bowl. Not even half. But if I thought the waiter would be disappointed, I was wrong. He just smiled knowingly.
I speak seven words of Portuguese, and he had only a few more words of English. But we communicated well enough.
I wasn’t wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but he knew what I was.