Churrascaria: The History of Brazilian Food

Churrascaria is a Portuguese word that means “restaurant serving food churrasco style,” usually a steakhouse. Churrasco is a Spanish/Portuguese word that means barbecue, but it came to say a bit more than that, as it evolved from cowboy cuisine to the Brazilian food we know and love today.

Cowboys are the same all over… they may wear something a little different, but they live off the land and wear wide hats and leather boots, and they tend cattle. Americans call them cowboys. Australians called them jackaroos. In South America, they are known as llaneros, huasos, or vaqueiros, and in Southern Brazil, gauchos. As they have no way of preserving meat, after butchering a cow, they have to immediately cook large portions of the meat over a wood fire over many hours rotisserie style. The slow-cooking process leaves the meat basted in its juices, resulting in some of the most flavorful steak possible.

As times evolved, the cuisine started to vary a bit, and the churrasco style entered the cities. Instead of open fire fit in the wilds, purpose-built “churrasqueira” or barbecue fire pit, with supports for spits and skewers, were added. More types of meat such as chicken, pork, sausage were added to the mix. Both charcoal and wood may be used.

The modern churrascaria is usually rodizio style. No one really knew how the rodizio style of serving came about, but the legend was a server took the meat skewer to the wrong table but allowed the guest there to cut a piece to sample anyway. Now, servers will come to your table with their samples of food (as long as you leave your sign up, signaling “yes, please”) and serve a portion to you. When you need a break or had enough, change your sign to “no, thank you.”

As various new ethnicities emigrated to Brazil, they brought their home-style cooking with them. The Europeans, the Africans, the Japanese… as a result, modern Brazilian food is an international mix, but the churrascaria remained the same. A “buffet bar” is added for salads, vegetables, fish and other seafood, bread and cheeses and so on.

At Rio De Brazil, you will experience all that, as well as choose from our fine selection of wine. Let’s not forget our famous Caipirinha Cart. Contact us today to make a reservation!