It may be a cliché, but Salvador da Bahia in Brazil is often described as a melting pot of cultures, with its African, European and native influences. Well, the good news for food-lovers is that this melting pot quite literally translates into the gastronomy, with an irresistible array of local dishes fusing flavours from around the world to become typically Bahian cuisine. The city’s coastal setting means that seafood is almost always on the menu, but there is so much more to enjoy about food in Salvador da Bahia, a true reflection of its fascinating history and contemporary culture.
With this in mind, and as Brazil will soon to be launched on our Discover Your South America website, here at Surtrek we wanted to think about the many reasons why the gastronomy here is so special, taking a look at some of Bahia’s best restaurants and favourite dishes.
Seafood in Salvador
There is only one place to start, as you can’t talk about Bahia’s best-loved recipes without mentioning Moqueca, a hearty fish stew that simply must be tried. This national staple can be found across the country, but Brazil’s best Moqueca comes from Bahia. The exact seafood varies, though often includes shrimp and white fish, gently cooked with plenty of garlic, onions, sweet tomatoes, coriander, a splash of coconut milk and sometimes fresh chilli – though always a little dendê oil to round it together. Every restaurant has a slightly different take on Moqueca, some slow cooking in clay pots, others firing up the pan and sautéing it all off at speed. One thing that doesn’t change however, is if you add a ladle of wild rice and a chilled glass of wine, Moqueca is a lunchtime delight that will help your afternoon along no end. Casa de Tereza, Paraiso Tropical and the beachside Caranguejo de Sergipe Restaurants are all known for their delicious versions of this famous Brazilian dish.
African Food in Salvador
African influences on the food in Salvador can also be seen in the ingredients of bobó de camarão and Vatapá, the latter being another seafood stew though this time cooked with ginger, cashew nuts and red pepper, as well as coconut milk, of course. Vatapá can be served as a thick soup with crusty bread or even as a lip-smacking sauce, poured over deep fried Acarajé, a breaded croquet of mashed beans, herbs and seasoning; perfect with an ice-cold beer by the sea. Whereas Acarajé is seen as tasty street food, Vatapá can be found in almost all restaurants, though particularly in the more low-key, down to earth places where it’s extremely popular with locals.
Mediterranean Food in Salvador
For anyone keen to combine those fresh seafood flavours with Mediterranean classics, the fine dining Mistura Restaurant is a fantastic choice. Here, scallops and freshly grilled fish meet Moroccan couscous and beetroot tagliatelle, or squid-ink linguini topped with edible flowers, to name just a few, and it all works to mouth-watering effect. What’s more, is that with a prime position overlooking the harbour, Mistura Restaurant has the perfect view and atmosphere to match its unforgettable food. Amado Restaurant on the Bay of All Saints is also a great place to taste well-known Brazilian fare that’s been given a 21st century facelift. For something a little more rustic, though still on the theme of European-Brazilian combinations, the family-run Larriquerri Restaurant is a vibrant place to eat, not as refined as Mistura but the flavours are just as big, service always friendly and everything about the place is fully authentic.
Tapioca, Sides and Desserts in Salvador
Another Bahian classic, whether on the move or looking for a light lunch, are traditional tapioca flatbreads. Simple ingredients of flour, water and salt make the bread itself – and don’t be put off by its pale colour – before being topped and filled with everything from tuna to cheese, spicy chicken or zingy salad. Some turn their tapioca wrap into a desert, adding banana and condensed milk, though everyone’s favourite sweet treat here is the cocada, a mini coconut cake served up and down the city by both restaurants and street stalls alike. As you eat and drink your way through a trip to Salvador da Bahia, during your Brazilian adventure, look out for bará and Acaçá, both of which are traditionally cooked inside banana leaves, as well as Feijão beans, fried farofa (a toasted side dish of flour, beans and bacon), and Efó – a regional accompaniment consisting of dried meat, herbs, garlic and peppers.All of these dishes, and more, showcase the many faces of Salvador, as tropical flavours join Portuguese recipes, African techniques combine with cutting-edge Brazilian cooking, and the result is an endless menu of variety, each as good as the next. Then, to wash it all down, grab yourself a cachaça cocktail or fruity caipirinha at one of the many harbourfront or beachside bars, perhaps a drink in the historic Pelourinho District, because the gastronomic experience in Salvador da Bahia just keeps on coming!
Taste the flavours of Brazil and the food of Salvador on a luxury tailor-made trip to this special destination. Very soon, you’ll be able to start planning your Brazil vacation on Discover Your South America, but if you can’t wait and want to get started today, call our passionate Brazil team on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!