Brazilian beach eats

On my first trip to Brazil about seven years ago, I asked Daniel if we needed to bring food with us to the beach. Where I grew up, all trips to the beach began at my town's one gourmet shop, which everyone appropriately called "The Gourmet". It was there that we'd fill up a cooler with Snapples, sandwiches (peppermill turkey on club rolls with lettuce, tomato, provolone and balsamic vinegar was the most popular back then), fruit and other snacks.

Daniel assured me that bringing a cooler of food to the beach in Rio was both unnecessary and extremely tacky -- or cafona as they say in Portuguese. After just one visit, I understood why.

The beach in Rio is like a moveable food court! From the moment you plop yourself down, you can have pretty much anything and everything you'd ever crave without even moving an inch. I never had a chance to take photos of all the different beach vendors on this trip (blame it on the rain!) but I did remember to keep a running list.

Corn on the cob: It might be hard to believe, but you really will see corn on the cob carts being rolled around the beach. For 2 reais, you can get a steaming hot cob that's been rolled in butter and sprinkled with salt.
Watermelon: The perfect beach snack in my opinion. Especially when it's sliced right in front of you.
Sacolé: Frozen fresh fruit that's sold in a bunch of different flavors. Daniel and I both love maracuja (passionfruit) and manga (mango).
Agua de Coco: Many of the people who rent out chairs and umbrellas also offer ice-cold agua de coco, my drink of choice on the beach.
Kibbeh: Yes, you can even get deep-fried meatballs (a Lebanese specialty) on the beach!
Shrimp skewers: I've never actually seen anyone buy these (perhaps because shrimp+ sun = upset stomach?), but considering how many people walk around selling them, they must be in demand.
Oysters: I also haven't seen anybody slurping back oysters on the beach, but there are quite a few people who sell them.
Biscoitos Globo: Biscoitos Globo are a classic Brazilian snack similar to cheesedoodles, but without the cheese. Shaped like small donuts, they're airy puffs that come in two flavors: sweet or salty. I love how they shatter with each bite.
Pineapple: While freshly cut pineapple is delicious on a hot, sunny day, the man who sells it on the beach in Rio likes to sneak up on people and scream AAAABAAACAXXXIIIII (piiiiineappppppple) in their ears. His dramatic sales pitch is funny the first time, but as our friend Gisela confirmed, it gets old fast.
Peanuts: Little paper cones full of peanuts make an unexpected but good beach snack.
Ice cream: The selection is pretty similar to what you'll find at snack bars in the States.
Sandwiches: All sort of different types including chicken salad, tuna salad and cheese.

And my all-time favorite thing that you can buy on the beach? Queijo na brasa -- cheese on a stick that's grilled to order in a little portable oven. I really wish I'd remembered to take a picture of this, but I guess you'll all just have to go to Rio and see for yourselves.

If you've been to the beach in Rio, or if you live in Brazil, is there anything that I'm forgetting?

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Susan from Food Blogga said...

Wow! Their beaches have better food than many of our restaurants. I laughed at "caffona," as my Italian-American family uses a similar expression. Great photos!

Susan from Food "Blogga"

Patricia Scarpin said...


We sure have lots of different options on the beaches here!

The cheese on a stick is usually made of queijo coalho and I was told by a friend that haloumi is similar in texture, it goes "squeaky" on the teeth.

I have to say I love drinking caipirinha on the beach. But one has to be careful not to have sun burns because of the lime juice. Same with "abacaxiiiiiiiiii". ;)

Anonymous said...

I also laughed when I saw "caffona"... something I hear often in Italy.

Lia said...

Susan and Luisa, cafona (which I just learned is with one f, not two as I originally wrote) is a great word. Fafoca (gossip) is my other favorite!

Patricia, squeaky is such a great way to describe it! I've been trying to think of the best word to describe queijo minas and I think squeaky works well too. I guess I love when my cheese squeaks as I eat it! :) I love caipirinhas too.

Anonymous said...

The word for gossip is actually Fofoca, not fafoca. And I agree that it's a great word.

The cheese on the beach is queijo coalho, which is very different from queijo minas. Coalho is the squeaky one; minas, not so much.

I like aipim on the beach!

Lia said...

Anonymous, thanks for the correction. And I actually think that queijo minas, the fresh kind that comes in a tub of water, is pretty squeaky too!

Sarah said...

Just returned from a trip to South America not too long ago and I'm missing the convenient beach food!

A couple more things I remembered: Acai with granola and maracuja syrup, very refreshing in the hot sun. Also, empadas in the little portable ovens. I love how they also sold sunscreen (and sarongs), so you literally have to pack nothing before heading to the beach! (no towel, sunscreen, food, drinks, etc.) Imagine lugging a cooler and bag around being a thing of the past...


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