Back in 1999, a guy called Eduardo Maya came up with an excellent idea. Eduardo has a rather inspiring story I think – a native of Rio, he spent some of his adolescence living in London during which time he developed an interest in food. After graduating in Mathematics, he moved back to Brazil to work a job in finance (we haven’t got to the inspiring bit yet, that’s coming up next).
After some time, Eduardo realised that he didn’t want to work in finance anymore and somehow landed himself a job hosting a culinary themed radio show (I had no idea such things even existed!). And then came his idea: A competition between all the botecos (bars) in the town of Belo Horizonte, state capital of Minas Gerais, where he was working at the time. The competition was dubbed Comida di Buteco.
The format for the competition is disarmingly simple. Each bar creates a single tira-gosto (a light snack that would typically be nibbled alongside a beer or three), especially for the competition. Sometimes there is a theme, or there are restrictions on what ingredients can be used, other times anything goes. Each year, each bar must come up with something new.
This is the point that we get involved! For several weeks (the exact dates and length of the competition varies between cities), members of the public can visit the participating botecos and taste the snacks. Diners rate the bars on 4 categories:
- The tira-gosto
- The hygiene of the bar
- The temperature of the drinks (remember this is Brazil, so the beer must be freezing…)
There is also a jury of culinary experts who vote (weighted 50-50 with the public) and at the end some lucky bars are named the winners (though one suspects that everyone is a winner here in terms of increased business for the bars and increased quality and value for the customers).
This year the competition runs for a full month in Rio – 13th April to the 13th May and 31 bars are participating. When I realised I would miss most of the competition I was disappointed (not that I deserve much sympathy, given all my gluttony back in London), but now that I’m back I have been making up for lost time!
In my next posts I will tell you how things went, but for now let me leave you with a little taster…