Recipe: Dadinhos de Tapioca com Queijo


A few members of the International Club of Rio (InC) discussing their latest events and fundraising activities.


It occurred to me the other day that I’ve changed quite a lot since I came to Brazil. It’s hard to know how much of that change has been due to actually being in Brazil and how much it’s been just the natural process of getting older or various other possible factors. But regardless of the reason(s), the extent of the change really hit home a couple of weeks ago when I found myself giving a talk to around 50 members of the prestigious International Club of Rio (InC) – currently in its 50th year.

Late last year one of my food tour guests, Susan, mentioned that she was a member of this group which aims to create a community of English speakers in Rio. The group (formed of many different nationalities including Brazilians) gets together for social events, helps newcomers settle in and raises funds for philanthropic activities and services. “We’d love it if you came along to one of our meetings and gave us a talk about how you came to Brazil and some background on Brazilian food,” she said. “Our guest speakers usually speak for about an hour”.

Now if this proposition had been put to the old Tom who lived in London you can be sure he would have run a mile! I was never a big fan of public speaking – even a 10 minute presentation to a handful of work colleagues used to give me palpitations back in those days. But with hardly a moment’s hesitation I found myself agreeing to Susan’s suggestion and a couple of months later I was standing in front of a large group of women of all ages and telling them my story. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed the entire experience. I don’t suppose it’s really for me to say, but it felt like the group enjoyed the presentation too (at least they laughed in all the right places and gave me lots of positive feedback afterwards). How times change.


I first tried these tasty, cheesy ‘dice’ in Café do Alto in Santa Teresa.


A couple of days before the talk, it occurred to me that it might be fun to make something for the audience to eat while I spoke. I guess the idea was that even if they hated my presentation at least some tasty food might put them in a forgiving mood. The response on the day was so positive and I had so many requests for the recipe that I ended up promising to put it up on the blog. So here it is:

Read more


Proof that British food isn’t terrible



A little while back, Jamie Oliver stirred up a whole lot of trouble (while hungover) by describing brigadeiro and quindim (Brazilian sweets) as “a load of old shit” on Brazilian TV. A little while later, Andrew Creelman over at “What About São Paulo?” asked the question Why do some Brazilians think British food is shit? Andrew’s question was partly prompted by Jamie’s ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment and partly because plenty of Brazilians (and other nationalities) have a poor view of British food.

It’s interesting how personally we take criticism of our food, regardless of where we’re from – when I read comments like “Sorry, but British food is disgusting” I can’t help but feel a pang of indignation, just the same as Brazilians felt miffed that Jamie dissed their sweets.


Quindim – not everyone’s cup of tea.


In case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a fan of Brazilian food, but in the case of brigadeiro and quindim (a mix of egg yolks, sugar and coconut) I have some sympathy for Jamie. I know there are some foreigners who like those sweets, but to most untrained palettes they taste bland and sickly-sweet. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to like Marmite if they hadn’t grown up with the stuff. So if anyone feels like saying that Marmite is a load of old shit, be my guest (all the more for me!).

But sweeping statements like “British food is terrible” (or “Brazilian food is terrible” for that matter) are generally made by mischievous people who are looking for a rise, or who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the best the country has to offer. I’ve defended Brazilian food in the past, so today I’m just going to put forward 2 examples in support of British food.

Read more


DIY Palmito Assado



Any ideas what those two strange things above are? If you like asparagus and artichoke hearts, this is something you need to try. These are palmitos, known to us English speakers as palm hearts (or ‘heart of palm’ if you prefer). These are the central growing stems from a variety of different palm trees and are very popular in Brazil.

Probably the most common way to see palmito served is in salads. The long white cylinders are preserved in a light brine, then cut into smaller circular sections and served with olive oil. As I mentioned above, the end result is reminiscent of mildly flavoured artichoke hearts. But there is a far more exciting way to prepare and serve palmito.

Read more


Expats doing it for themselves



In contrast to scaremongering right-wing politicians, I believe that immigrant communities make big cities better. Imagine London without its rich pockets of immigrants from the Caribbean, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey, and so on. It might still be a good city, but would it be a great one? I doubt it.

As an immigrant myself, I have first hand experience of some of the challenges and emotions faced by people living in a new country. Of course some of the classic economic difficulties that immigrants face have been easier for me because I have the advantage of a good education, but I’ve felt homesick, lost, confused and isolated at times and I’ve even had people tell me to go back to where I came from. Once I was even on the receiving end of that classic accusation: You’re stealing our jobs and our women! (“women” plural? Don’t tell Mrs Eat Rio!). Happily most of my interactions with the locals have been far more positive!

But however much we enjoy our new life, I’m sure all immigrants/expats miss things that they can’t get in their new home. To be honest with you, I never bothered that much with Marmite back in London, but once I moved to Rio I found myself longing for the stuff. And what do we do when we can’t have something from home? We fill our suitcases or we make those things ourselves!

Sadly I haven’t succeeded in formulating my own Marmite (Mrs Eat Rio would probably leave me if I did!), but recently I decided to have a go at making another British favourite – crumpets!

Read more


What to do with Jabuticaba

If you happen to stroll through a street market in Rio around now you will almost certainly see lots of these:


Jabuticaba (zha-bootchy-CAH-ba).


As fruits go, this one is pretty remarkable. First of all there is the tree. You may have seen these images before, but I think a fruit tree this unusual is worth a second look:


A heavily laden jabuticabeira. As you can see, the fruit grows directly out of the trunk and branches.


Read more

Canjica – exactly what I was looking for!

Anyone know what this is?

canjica hominy

It looks a bit like a pile of broken teeth doesn’t it? In Brazil they call this Canjica, in other countries it is known as hominy.


To use the official name, this is Nixtamalised maize. Apparently, Nixtamalisation is the process of soaking a grain in alkali solution and then removing its husk. Although that sounds worryingly like messing with food in a bad way, Nixtamalisation was developed by the Aztecs and Mayans more than 3,000 years ago and actually makes maize more nutritious!

If, like me, you had never heard of this stuff, you may be wondering what you do with it. Well, all sorts of things actually!

Read more

Do try this at home

One of the major changes in my life since moving to Rio back in 2010 has been a slow-down in my social life. I know everyone assumes that life in Rio is one long party in which we share our time equally between the beach and various bars and clubs, occasionally stopping to refill our caipirinhas or play some beach volleyball, but reality is somewhat different.

Moving to a new city presents quite a few challenges and when you don’t speak the language, those challenges are amplified. But I’m not complaining – it was probably about time that my social life calmed down a bit! And when you aren’t spending so much time socialising in bars (or being hungover the next day), you have more time for other things, like writing, photography, learning a new language. You know, all those things you’ve been meaning to do for years but were always too busy for.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most during my enforced social hiatus, has been learning about Brazilian food (did I mention that I’ve written an Amazonian food tour app for the iPhone? 😉 ). In general, I wouldn’t describe Brazilian food as sophisticated. That’s not to take anything away from it (I think it’s delicious) I just mean that there is an uncomplicated goodness that belies its country roots.

And what could exemplify that uncomplicated goodness better than pão de quejio?


Read more

My Favourite Brazilian Christmas Treat

OK, don’t all laugh at me, but I heard a rumour going round that Christmas is fast approaching. I haven’t worked it out exactly, but my guess is that there aren’t many shopping days left until the big day itself. This information does not compute. I have spent every day this past week thanking whoever it was that invented air conditioning (and also thanking my father-in-law for donating an air conditioner a few weeks back).

Seriously, I put up a hammock yesterday. Hammocks and Christmas are not, in my book, words that go together.

Ah, my lovely hammock from lovely Colombia. This trusty fellow looked after me on an interminable boat ride down the Amazon and it's great to see him again. However, does this scene strike you as Christmasy? I guess the hammock does have a bit of a Santa colour scheme going on...

Read more

Shrimp Festival Disappointment

The Portuguese word for shrimp is camarão (in England we use the word ‘prawn’ for big shrimps – in America it is the other way round apparently). Well regardless of the name, I love them! So you can imagine my delight the first time I went to my local kilo restaurant on a Friday and saw a sign saying “Festival de Camarão”. I love food, I love camarão – the idea of a festival dedicated to these delicious morsels of the sea set my mouth a-watering! 


Not the sign I saw. Not the scene that ensued.

Read more

How to make a great Caipirinha

Before I get going on the steps for making a great Caipirinha, I want to reiterate the warning I gave in an earlier post – this is a powerful drink. When I arrived in Brazil I thought of the Caipirinha as being the same strength as a standard large measure of spirit (rum, vodka, whisky) with a mixer. It isn’t – I estimate that the standard version served in a bar or restaurant in Rio contains at least 5 or 6 standard measures of Cachaça…


The basic tools required to make a Caipirinha

Read more