Feijoada – From the slaves to the Romans

feijoada2It is World Cup again and in every place people are talking about football and Brazil. There is no better time to talk about Brazilian culture and its Cuisine!

One of the most traditional food in Brazil is Feijoada. A smoked meat and black beans stew slow cooked and served with plain rice and a variety of sides. Feijoada is a delicious and strong in flavour food. Its combination with the traditional sides makes it even more beautiful.

There are many theories of how this dish was created. The majority of Brazilians sustain that Feijoada is 100% Brazilian food created by slaves in senzalas – portuguese name for slavers’ quarter. The tale states that slaves were sometimes given parts of pork meat unwanted by the lord of the manor such as tail, noose, and ears and would cook them with black beans in a kind of stew.

The truth is that from the 16th to 18th century, even the Lord of the Manor wouldn’t have pork meat often and the parts of the pig were considered a delicacy at the time, as Paula Pinto e Silva explain in her book Farinha, Feijão e Carne-Seca – Um Tripé Culinário no Brasil Colônia (Flour, Bean and Dry-Meat – a culinary tripod in the Colonial Brazil).

Other more likely vertent is that origins come from as far as the Roman Empire. Leandro Narloch, a well-known Brazilian journalist explain in his book Guia Politicamente Incorreto de História do Brasi(The Incorrect Guide of Brazilian History) that historically neither slaves or Brazilian natives use to cook meat and beans together but the Romans that usually cooked meat and white beans together. This is also the origin of the French cassoulet, a white beans, pork sausage and duck stew.

Portugal, the Brazilian colonizer, also have a traditional stew made out of a variety of meat and white beans. What was then probably done in Brazil was the substitution of the white beans by the black beans brought on the same ships that came from Africa bringing slaves.

The first time Feijoada figured in a menu was in 1833, in the posh Hôtel Théatre in Recife, North-Eastern Brazil with the name of Brazilian style Feijoada. Probably the traditional sides were included at the time – white rice, cassava coarse flour, spring green and slices of orange.

Even though Feijoada is a unique dish with a wonderful mix of influences, it is far from being the first case of a foreign food that became a sensation in another country. Just like Tikka Massala became an iconic food in Britain.

Brazilian Style Feijoada


·         200 g of dried beef

·         200 g of smoked pork ribs

·         200 g of pork feet

·         100 g of pork tail

·         100 g of pork ears

·         150 g of pork loin

·         1Kg of black beans soaked in water for 6 hrs

·         6 bay leaves

·         200 g of smoked sausage (hunter’s sausage)

·         200 g de pork sausage

·         50 g de bacon

·         5 garlic cloves

·         1 cup of oil

·         2 onions, chopped

In a large deep pan bring the dried beef, pork feet and ears to boil for 20 minutes in high heat. Drain the water and add the black bean. Add water enough to cover approximately 3 inches above the ingredients. Add the bay leaves and cook for half hour. Now add the pork tail and smoked ribs, cook for another half hour and add the pork loin, the sausages and bacon. Pay attention to get rid of any oil on the water surface. In a fryer pan, add the oil and brown the garlic. Add the onions and cook until soften. Add the fried onion and garlic to the stew. After one hour check if the meats and beans are cooked throughly. Serve with plain rice, cassava coarse flour, spring green finely chopped and tossed on garlic oil and slices of orange as a side.


Why not try it during this World Cup and enjoy a taste of Brazil?