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The Churrascaria

- Hye Sung

Warning: This may cause discomfort and may offend vegetarian readers. I’d skip out on this one if you can’t stand meat.

The three things I love most about Brazil are:

  1. The beautiful city of Sao Paolo. The culture of this city is fascinating, with the extravagant fashion and the intense New Rave music scene (which gave birth to Cansei de Ser Sexy, a rock band signed to Seattle-based label Subpop)
  2. The Brazilian tropical wetland, and the largest wetland in the world, known as the Pantanal. I spent 40 days in the Pantanal region when I was 5 years old for a sabbatical my family took.
  3. And of course, the Churrascarias.

Now the Churrascaria is roughly translated from Portuguese into English as “barbecue”. And when it gets down to it, that’s what it is. But the delivery of the Churrascaria leaves you breathless, partially because afterwards it’s hard to breathe being stuffed with all that barbecue. The waiters of the Churrascaria come out every few minutes with a new meat, whether it be lamb, duck, fish, sausage, etc., on a skewer. They simply go down the table and ask if you want it, and slice it off a skewer with a large knife. This usually goes on for an hour or so.

(For meat lovers, you begin to wonder if mortality has played a trick on you and you’ve entered glorious gates of the Kingdom of Heaven.)

I’ve been to a Churrascaria several times. 3 times in Brazil and once while I was working on a service project in Paraguay. My first time was in Brazil right before our family went out to the Pantanal. My parents knew the food we were about to eat in the Pantanal during our Sabbatical might be a bit hard for us picky children to eat, so they gave us our Last Supper. I remember being so excited, watching the waiters come in with all this meat. Every time a waiter came a long I nodded with a smile. Then they brought these tiny dark balls on the skewers. I took it and assumed it was just burnt pork. I took a bite. And it was salty, and definitely delicious. I felt my brother staring and I looked over at his red face. He was trying to hold in his laughter, but I knew something was up.

I was informed within a few minutes that is was chicken brain. I never made that mistake ever again. And when you’re on your trip to Brazil and take your family to a Churrascaria, you won’t make the same mistake either. Instead, you will be enjoying an hour of satisfaction for under $30.




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