Tag Archives: Feijoada


14 Aug

One of the joys of international travel is exactly that…the international experience. In Italy, of course, we seek to absorb everything we can about the Italian culture – the people, the food, the language, the customs, the traditions. But sometimes, “locals” expand that experience for us in ways unexpected.

This summer, we had the good fortune to meet Vera, a recent “Cortona local” but non-Italian native. Born in Brazil, living in Australia and now also in Cortona, she is an interesting blend of many cultures, traditions, and languages, which I have fondly dubbed Veranese.

On a lovely summer evening, Vera invited us to her home to enjoy the national dish of Brazil, feijoada. Of course, I had never heard of this, let alone tasted it before, so I was curious.

But first things first. One of the added pleasures of being invited to someone’s home is the opportunity to learn about its history, as every home in Cortona has a story. Since most of the ancient palazzos and villas have been subdivided, Vera’s entrance was, at one time, the stable of this palazzo.


Fortunately, when renovations occur, antiquities are preserved so the horse trough still exists, although modified with plumbing at some point.


Adding to the charm is the old well, still visible behind the grate on the left, both outside her front door

and inside her home.IMG_0005

Enough history and on to the dinner. Feijoada (fay-ZHWA-dah) is considered one of Brazil’s national treasures and one that Vera wanted to share with us. It is a hearty, slow-cooked dish, meant to serve a group. Shopping for ingredients begins the day before, as several kinds of smoked meats, ribs, and beef jerky are needed. These are then slowly simmered the night before with black beans.


Needless to say the aroma was amazing when we entered the house, and even better as the feijoada was served over rice.


Although each cook may have his or her own family recipe, Brazilian Feijoada almost always has black beans and always has a mixture of salted, smoked and fresh meats. Some can be a little spicy; ours was not. Either way it’s traditional to serve this stew with white rice and maybe some sautéed vegetables.

Just before dessert was served, it started to rain, then hail heavily, and the ground turned white. Unpredictable July, and a good excuse to open more vino!


You can see just how bothered we were by the weather…





Before we left, Vera showed us her newest piece of art, a painted antique terra cotta tile.  Beautiful! IMG_0005

Vera, many thanks for inviting us into your lovely home,  introducing us to one of Brazil’s national treasures, expanding our international palate, and teaching each of us to speak a bit of Veranese!



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