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:
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):
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!