Thursday, August 18, 2011

What is Farofa?

Farofa confused me the first time we met. There I sat at a table filled with beautiful foods and a bowl of course-looking flour. I asked Mr. Rant what it was and of course he exclaimed Farofa, just as he would say duh.

That's when he remembered I was still in the beginner's course of all things Brazilian. Hell, it was my first ever meal in the country.

Mr. Rant, being Mr. Rant, broke down the eating of Farofa in a very politically correct way that went something like this: Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to their farofa. Some keep their rice, beans, and farofa separated. Others mix it all up in a pile. Some like the farofa with just the beans and others only use it to dip their meat into. You have to figure out how you like your farofa.

That was impossible to do in one lunchtime so I just copied him. Beans on rice and farofa right next to it. I mixed with each bite and fell in love with the salty grainy goodness.

So what is farofa? Well, there are countless versions of this Brazilian delicacy. Sometimes it's made with bananas, sometimes sausage, and even eggs. Basically the key is a lot of butter, garlic, and farinha de mandioca (cassava flour). All the rest is extra.

It's the farinha de mandioca that makes all the magic though. The sand-like texture messes with your mouth as the seasoning plays with your taste buds. Not to mention, it's gluten free.

But I'm getting off target. The point is that it makes farofa. Farofa comes with just about every classic carioca meal. It's the step-sister of black beans, which in Brazil means they are cousins. It's just how it's done here people.

Now I have my own personal farofa style. I enjoy putting my beans on top of my rice for maximum bean juice absorption, a dabble of hot sauce, and farofa on the top. Then comes the mixing. Now that is one big pile of stomach bloating goodness.

On that note, I'm going to have to let you go now. I have some leftovers in the fridge who are now calling my name.

Do you like Farofa? If so, how do you take yours?


  1. Biscoito e pão de queijo não levam farinha de mandioca, mas polvilho.

  2. Mais polvilho e fécula de mandioca. Not related?

  3. farofa with bacon and onions!!

  4. We love it too.
    My assistant from my former job at the bank was from Salvador and she only ate a famous "farofa" from Mercado Modelo, downtown Salvador. Her mother fedex it to her often.
    Thank God we can buy it in any grocery store in the Boston area, even the large Stop & Shop chain carries it, due to the fact that there are 300 thousand Brazilians living in the Boston metro. Brazilian products are part of the main stream staples found around here.
    We like it on the side and mix it slowly with the beans.
    We also make it with chicken gizzards, liver and hearts.
    You can make it with eggs, parsley and lots of onions.
    Gil's all time favorite is well seasoned with cabbage and onions.
    Usually whey you mix it with other things like eggs, cabbage or sausage Brazilians call it "Virado", "virado de feijao", "virado de repolho", "virado de ovo", "virado a paulista".
    Virado a Paulista is made with beans, garlic, black pepper, parsley, bacon or sausage "linguica" and fried eggs, and instead of mandioca "flour" we use corse corn flour, served with a side of white rice and collard greens.
    Each family seems to develop their own farofa habits.


  5. Farofa totally sounds like something my family would just devour. I have never had it but would love to try it some day!

  6. Humn, I wonder if the basic Farofa you mentioned (Butter, Garlic and Cassava Flour) would work well as a popcorn topping. Farofcorn.
    I once tried putting Farofa over Pepperoni Pizza. It was ok.
    As for my favorite Farofa I never really payed attention to the contents of the ones I have eaten so far. I was thinking though that perhaps with this dish less is more so it would not surprise me if the basic recipe with the addition of just onions would be quite nice.

  7. Farofa de dende, with lots of molho a campanha/vinagrete mixed with rice or salad and hot peppers! Oh, and some vatapa on the side would be even better. I just make it at home with butter (or dende), onion, garlic, parsley and seasoning. My first introduction years back I thought it to be sand-like, but I grew to love it quite quickly.

  8. Rachel, congratulations. You the very first foreigner I've ever heard of that actually likes farofa - even more amazing, it was love at first sight! All the gringos I've met so far simply hated it. My husband doesn't hate, but doesn't see the point in it either.

    I love farofa in most ways. Simple (just onion and eggs), with added bacon or, especially on christmas, with raisins (and/or bananas you've mentioned) in the mix. The sweetness of the fruit works very well with all that salty starch. Yummy! Too bad I can't eat farofa (or rice/beans, for that matter) as I'm already on a strict diet in order to look acceptable in Rio next summer. :) Enjoy your farofa!

  9. I love the tasty goodness of simple onions and eggs, too. Yum, yum.

  10. Aw, I'll be the lone reader to admit that I'm not a huge farofa fan. It's more because I already have the carbs from the rice, so I don't want any more! But I did love your step-sister-to-cousin description. :)

  11. Buttery banana, if you please. :)

  12. I love Farofa! It's not only typical of Brazilian cuisine, but mainly of Northeast! Here we custume eat for breakfast with eggs. vegetables, ham, Mantega da terra, sausage, very good! I love! Great for taking hangover!

  13. I love it when my wife makes it. She frys it with bacon, eggs, garlic and butter. Our little 5 year old calls it "sand". He only wants his "sand" when mommy makes it - never at a restaurant, vovo's or tia's house.

  14. I'm no farofa snob, at one of the Brazilian markets here in LA I can get farofa pronta. It was the first type of farofa I had (while living with Brazilians in Barcelona of all places) and it satisfies me just fine :)

  15. I like it a lot, too! When I saw your post, I couldn't resist sharing this video - my then-two-year-old extolling the virtues of farofa and Brazil as she messily gobbles up a plate of plain farinha!


  16. When we first arrived, my daughter, who was two-and-a-half at the time, would only eat farofa if we went out. Not the fun kind with stuff in it. Just the dry kind.

  17. With all do respect, as I feel the most important thing is that people enjoy what they eat - not the technical/culinary idea behind it.

    But... the only time I'll add farofa to my plate is when the food isn't tasty enough or when it's just a plain simple Brazilian way of cooking: over cooked/baked, tasteless and wrongly combined. In that case farofa quickly becomes the most dominant flavor. So I'll add it for that purpose only.

    There is a reason why Europeans or Asians will never use farofa, although they use about all other ingredients & spices available in the world.

    I love living in Brazil, but their kitchen is about the worst in the world. Ohw well... It can't be all paradise...

  18. To each their own Giovanni but I have to disagree with you. I love well made Brazilian food. If you need some recommendations as where to eat in Rio, I can give you a few.

  19. Giovanni is back!
    People all over the world use different ingredients & spices. Sometimes they use the same ingredients & spices but make the dish in a completely different way!

    I would like to know how many asians use acai or cupuacu in their dishes??? Does that mean that it is both crap as well since "they use about all other ingredients & spices available in the world."

    Favofa is great!! I love it with bacon, eggs, garlic and onions.

  20. Farofa is the best! I will trade in my rice, if I get into a carb debate. I am veggie, i love it! I make it with fruits, dried fruits, mushrooms, eggs, and lots of veggies. I put many the gringo ingredients into my farofa. I like to put it on top of veggies, beans and rice. hey man anything veggie with garlic has got my name on it. AND it's really easy and fast to make. future mommy food! Plus, I think that farofa is healthier then rice. So I think it's a good trade in.

  21. Hi Rachel, thanks! But I know where to go: Olympe, Fasano al mare, Aprazivel,... All my business partners & Carioca friends took me already around in Rio & SP to local restaurants (SP being better) but how many times did a Brazilian waiter ask you how you want your meat? They miss the culture of dining long, the importance in using quality products or the feeling for wine for example. A Brazilian loves his food like he knows it since he was small. He doesn't want to experiment (hence the rice & beans on every plate). He just wants to fill his stomach. Point.

    @Anonymous: I love Acai after training. But both Acai & cupuacu are fruits. I was talking spices and the use of fresh ingredients. I found it everywhere I was in Asia, and of course when I grew up in Europe. It's almost impossible to find a good piece of meat over here. Meat in supermarkets is hardly something you can quality as 'good' :)

    Now this being said: good thing not all of us have a huge problem with the 'kitchen' over here. I guess it's more a European thing. So no negative intention here, just my personal feelings.

  22. farofa with fucking bacon