In the southernmost part of Brazil lies Rio Grande do Sul.
This state borders Argentina and Uruguay and has a long and complicated history shaped by European colonisation.
The influence of German and Italian immigrants had a dramatic impact on many ways of life in this state, setting it apart from the rest of Brazil.
What developed was a culture deeply influenced by the architecture, gastronomy and culture of Italy and Germany, combined with the strong influence of the Gaúcha culture, a Brazilian Cowboy style of cattle farming.
Today I want to introduce you to two of the most iconic delicacies to taste when visiting the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
A Cup of Chimarrão
Chimarrão is a traditional hot tea made of the leaves of the Erva-mate tree, a type of Holly tree native to the region. A cup of warm Chimarrão is a healthy drink that is perfect for cold winter mornings and is enjoyed in most homes throughout Rio Grande do Sul.
To brew a cup of Chimarrão, you will need two special items. First, the cup which is a specially shaped vessel called a cuia. A cuia is made from the Porongo, a type of gourd grown in the region. To drink Chimarrão from a cuia, you need a straw, called a bomba. A bomba straw has a flat metal filter at the bottom which separates the Chimarrão infusion from tea leaves. Most bomba are metal, but you may also find luxury bomba made in silver or gold.
To make Chimarrão, you fill the cuia to the halfway mark with the leaves. Then lean the cup to the side to create a space to fill with hot water. Pour in the water and insert the bomba. Allow the leaves to brew for a few moments and then enjoy your delicious Chimarrão.
I love to drink Chimarrão while listening to some of the great regional music or sharing it among friends in a circle of conversation.
A Taste of Pinhão
The Pinhão is a type of pine nut which is the seed from the only species of Pine tree growing in southern Brazil. The seeds of this tree have become incorporated in the culinary culture of the region. Harvested in autumn, the Pinhão is delicious to eat on its own or when added to desserts and a wide range of other dishes.
Cook the Pinhão for about one hour, until the shell is soft, then remove the shell and enjoy the soft inside. Pinhão on its own is delightful, but also try it with honey or olive oil and salt. Delicious!
These two delicacies are just a small sample of the unique tastes and experiences available in Rio Grande do Sul. I hope that this will inspire you to visit this fantastic region someday and explore more of the unique culture, natural landscapes and exotic tastes on offer.