Escondidinho – the little hidden

I know, I know – not everyone uses carnival as an excuse for a full-on, 5-day fun-binge. Some people actually dislike carnival and do their best to leave town during what is admittedly a bit of an inconvenient time if you want to do anything which doesn’t involve dressing up as a nun/ballerina/pirate and dancing in the street. Happily I fall into the full-on, 5-day fun-binge category and so for me this is a time I look forward to all year.

If you ask people who’ve been to carnival if they have any tips, you’ll probably get all kinds of advice, from best pee strategy (go whenever you get the opportunity, even if you don’t really need to go), to best bloco enjoyment strategy (set your alarm and get up early – a lot of the best stuff starts at 8am).

Today I’m going to give you another tip: Don’t forget to eat! I know that may sound a bit like saying “Don’t forget to breathe”, but it’s surprising how easy it is to get carried away with all the dancing and singing and moving from one bloco to the next. Before you know it it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you’re absolutely exhausted and ready for bed.

If you like some beers and caipirinhas with your samba, you are going to need something good and heavy to keep you going – a green salad ain’t going to cut it! May I present Escondidinho:

 

Escondindinho

Escondidinho (sounds like eskon-jee-JEEN-yo). This will keep you samba-ing to the end of day.

 

If something is hidden, it is described in Portuguese as escondido (sounds like eskon-JEE-do). Well you remember how much Brazilians like to add their diminuitives? The dish you see above roughly translates as ‘Little hidden’ and when you start eating it you soon see why.

There are various different escondidinhos – one of my favourites is the classic carne seca (a delicious salted beef that is then semi-shredded). Mrs Eat Rio prefers this version: Escondidinho de camarão (with shrimps/prawns):

 

escondidinho de camarão

Now you can see why it is called little hidden. The crispy, cheesy top layer is hiding delicious treats!

 

When you break through the lovely cheesy crust on top, you find a delicious melange of mashed mandioca, creamy catupiry, and the filling of your choice (e.g. prawns, carne seca, chicken, etc).

This is classic Brazilian comfort bar food – it won’t win any prizes for subtlety, but if you’ve had a few drinks and plan on having a few more, this pot with its little hidden treats will keep you going til you get home! If you’re going to carnival this year, follow my advice and make time for a little hidden!

Bom Apetite e Bom Carnaval!

 

10 replies
  1. Gil
    Gil says:

    Oh, yeah, Brazil and those used and abused diminutives, but, hey, Tom, there are two ways of using them. One is when you’re referring to the size of something and the other is when it’s used as an emotionally charged adjective – just the way Brazilians love it. Therefore, “escondidinho” is not a reference to the size of the treat but instead a more emotional or personal or even cute way of referring to it. It’s suppose to emphasize the familiarity and/or comfort and/or love for something or somebody. Maybe there’s even a third way of using it. For example, when we’re referring to something that’s less than fully acceptable or less than the ideal or somewhat below your standards, like, for example, “Ele é bonitinho”, which means he’s somewhat good looking, but not really that good looking, he’s OK. It all depends on the context. Yeah, Portuguese, especially Brazilian Portuguese, can be a real pain sometimes. 🙂

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Heh heh! Portuguese can be tricky at times, but I really like the diminutives! I also like the augmentatives (if that’s the correct term) – one of the first I learned here was frescão the name of those big blue buses with the super-powerful air conditioning. A useful word to know at this time of year! 🙂

      Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Ha ha! You’re not a fan of the indindinho thing Gritty?! I guess this does belong under the broad umbrella of casserole, but then I don’t think just saying casserole gives a full idea of all the creamy, cheesy goodness this thing has going on!

      Reply
  2. Ana Fonseca
    Ana Fonseca says:

    Carne seca I cannot find it around here. I use cod+shrimps with a bit of coconut milk OR as alternative filling pork+ham+bacon. My Dutch guests looove it. Well, they will love oven dishes and all casseroles. The combi fish/shrimps + coconut milk/cillantro is a big hit and reminds the Dutch of Asian flavors (they have a developed palate for Southern Asia flavors or what seems “Indonesich” to them).

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Yum! I really like the sound of the fish/Shrimps, coconut milk and coentro/cilantro/coriander version! I’m often surprised by how many Brazilian dishes are perfectly suited to colder countries.

      Reply

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