Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Curitiba
Having never set foot in South America previously, obviously I was eagerly anticipating things of the culinary-realm. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you learn more from a country from their food than from anything else they can offer. An added bonus of the trip to South America was that for some reason, Trivium had grown a massive following whilst never actually playing a single show in the territory. From all our band friends like David Draiman to John Petrucci, Lamb Of God to In Flames - they all pretty much said the same thing - "you are going to have the best time out there; with some of the most insane fans you've ever seen."
The flight to Brazil was actually a piece of cake. Trivium is used to the uber-painful 3-5 connections-flight in coach-in-the-back-of-the-plane-middle-seat kinda way, so the 2 flights over was a treat in comparison to the latter. We met our promoter Marcos in Atlanta before the flight to Brasilia, where I quickly and excitedly (probably annoyingly) filled him in of the fact that we need to be eating as much as possible of the traditionals when we hit the ground. His response was "South America is a meat culture… with lots and lots of meat." We all smiled and boarded the plane.
I suited up in the classic Heafy-flight-sleeping-kit-outfit (hood, scarf on mouth, eye mask, ear plugs, doctor-approved-sleeping-pill) and was out till arrival. The weather was staggeringly beautiful - a cool 70's or so, sun shining, breeze blowing; all our band and crew busy picking their jaws off the floors when they started seeing all the Brazilian women in the flesh. It was gonna be a good tour… I felt it in my bones (the guys felt it in theirs).
We grabbed our shuttles over to our hotel, grabbed some aiight free hotel breakfast and everyone went their separate ways until our first Brazilian meal (lunch) was to come beckoning. Some napped, some showered, some exercised - but when lunch time hit, Joey, Ashley, Paolo, Ken, Mark, Mat, Marcos, and I all headed to Feitiço Mineiro. Our soon to become best-pal-in-South-America shared with us that this restaurant serves food in the style of Sepultura's home-town. Metal.
There was indoor and outdoor seating with loads of business people and locals alike - no gringos here (I was adamant on strictly non-tourist spots). We opted to sit outside and were told everything is buffet-style, "eat as much as you like!" Shit yes. A massive skillet-table held several cast-iron skillets and pans and pots of sizzling meats and vegetables. The aroma of sizzling garlic and onions and pork and beans greeted our curious noses with a familiar scent, however just behind that initial scent were notes and hints of spices and recipes we knew we didn't know previously. The amount of cuts of cow and pork and offal displayed made my knees buckle; the cauldrons of soupy-beany-goodness I knew, would be a litte too good for my own good.
Deep fried bananas (not plantains) and pineapple slices and potatoes and yucca, rice with toasted seeds of garlic (I think), rice with beans, beans with meat and garlic, black beans, mashed potatoes (or was that yucca?), okra grilled lightly, okra grilled heavily. They had ground ground manioc flour known as farofa (something I literally just saw on Bourdain's No Reservation's Amazon episode (so, like a groupie - I was ready to put that stuff in my mouth)), linguiça sausage, soupy beans with tripe, pork-skin cracklins, Brazilian cheese-stuffed mini-bread rolls. They even had long, chopped collard greens that looked unlike any collard I'd ever seen. Oxtail stew, salads and fruits and vegetables unfamiliar. They even had the Brazilian paella: rice, beans, sausage, offal, meat, sausage, vegetables… basically I think everything from the skillet table tossed into the biggest goddamn paella-pan man has ever come to know.
Seated with most of the band and crew and Marcos, Marcos fills us in on what many of the dishes are; we offer up questions about all things South American and Brazilian, and chow down on some intensely wonderful, rustic Brazilian food. I wash down my meats and beans with a Bohemia beer, which I can only describe as tasting like a true Japanese beer (not that Canadian-brewed imitation Asahi and Kirin and Sapporo that you probably accidentally drink at a sushi restaurant thinking your drinking Japanese). I know that the world-wide perception of Brazilian cuisine is purely limited to the skewer-meat-style spots (as was my perception) - but with this restaurant, I was reminded of the comforting flavors of southern American food (southern USA, not South America) in things like collards and okra and beans and rice and potatoes… but with that Latin American spin in spices, ingredients, and utilization of all parts of the animal (which is a constant in true southern American food as well). A nod to the Portuguese culture was mixed ever-pleasantly with African cuisine as well. Stick-to-your-ribs, unpretentious, simple, grandma-style comfort food. Incredible.
Having zero room left in my stomach (most likely from my 3-4 plates of food in comparison to most everyone else at the tables' one), we call it quits and head to the hotel for a recharge and digestion before dinner.