Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Roast Brazilian Style?

The Sunday roast was never a big thing in my family. I mean, growing up in my house, it was just me and my mother, and if you want to get into sexist New Zealand stereotypes, the Sunday roast was traditionally a family dish to prepare the working man for his week of hard labour, and to provide fast fillings for sandwiches for the next five days. It just never made sense for the two of us to have such a tradition, and besides, I was a fussy little cunt when it came to eating cold meats anyway! We definitely had roasts from time to time, but there was never any rule that it would be on Sunday, it could pop up at any day of the week - I liked that spontaneity! Today I was invited to my classmate Ana's house for a "Brazilian dinner". I was pretty excited, I really didn't know what to expect, other than I was pretty sure that rice and beans would be part of the equation (I wasn't wrong!). Ana's from Sao Paolo, her father is Brazilian and mother Italian - as soon as I found this out, I told her she had to show me how to make something typically Brazilian, as I'm all about the food exchange!

While we were waiting for the dinner to cook, Ana told us of her problems trying to source the ingredients for this dinner, and strangely enough it was acquiring the beef rump that was most problematic. I mean Germans LOVE meat, almost as much as they love dairy, pickled vegetables, and getting naked in public - so I was surprised to hear that she actually had to order it specially from the local supermarket. Before ordering was even possible, actually figuring out the German word for this particular cut was challenging - with one online translator transcribing "roast beef" as "titty-ficken" (yes that really means titty-fuck). Can you imagine a girl approaching a butcher and politely telling him that she wants a titty-fuck?! What would you do if you were that butcher? Probably lock up the shop, call your your wife and tell her not to wait for you tonight, because something has just COME UP...The other ingredient that I was able to help source was black beans. For some reason, nearly every other kind of bean or lentil is super common in Berlin, just not black beans. I happened to have found a Turkish supermarket that actually sells them, as not many do. Good for everyone, black beans are awesome.

The thing that really surprised me was is that even though New Zealand and Brazil are worlds apart geographically our traditional Sunday dinners are not! it was essentially roast beef flavoured with bay leaves, surrounded with potatoes, carrots, shallots & yellow peppers, then served with rice and black beans. I mean sure, you have to swap a few things out; we don't typically have yellow peppers or rice and beans with a roast, and any good English colonial would be shocked by the absence of our beloved gravy, or perhaps the non-crispy style roast vegetables, BUT, it is still very similar. There was a weird sense of nostalgia eating this dish, and since their were seven of us dining, it definitely had the atmosphere of a traditional Sunday family dinner (apart from the fact we were drinking Caipirinhas...I can't remember that ever happening at home). I really enjoyed the whole experience, black beans & basmati rice are definitely always welcome in my mouth (I also love the blue/black broth the beans make when you boil them), and those soft roast vegetables really soaked up the beef flavours and gentle herby accents of the bay leaves, I found myself pecking at them more than my stomach could accomodate. I should also add that Ana made some pretty tasty looking stuffed aubergines for the vegetarian guests as well - I didn't get a picture of them when they came out of the oven, but they were wearing a layer of grilled cheese by that stage.

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