The Brazilian way of eating pasta
by Diga Maria
Two decades ago the Brazilian did not eat so much pasta. The change began to be perceived in the late 1990s and was attributed to the rise in the price of rice - a daily consumer item in Brazil - as a counterpoint to the fall in the price of pasta. Since then, the increase in consumption has been around 30% per capita. Today pasta is present in 99.5% of Brazilian households, placing Brazil in third place in the world ranking of pasta consumption, behind the USA and Italy. It is an inexpensive, substantial product and present in all markets, which makes pasta accessible to all social classes.
Restaurants specializing in Italian food are commonplace in Brazil, as is pasta at family Sunday lunches. But the habits are a bit different: the Brazilian likes softer noodles. Eating pasta al dente is not widespread here. Hard grain gave way to tender, softer grain, and eggs went into the recipe. The Brazilian version is sold in cellophane packaging, instead of the paper box, and the names are gravato and bolt, instead of farfale and fusilli.
Carbohydrate sources are very present in the Brazilian food crop, through rice and beans, cassava, potatoes and pasta, but the current market reflects some changes that have been happening in recent years. The spread of knowledge about gluten intolerance has increased demand and consequently the supply of gluten-free pasta on supermarket shelves. It is not unusual for restaurants to offer (fake) spaghetti made with zucchini and pupunha palm or eggplant's lasagne. In both cases, the dishes do not have pasta, instead, the vegetables are cut into the shape of spaghetti or the slices of the lasagne. These options also serve the adepts of low-carb diets, which have been widespread in Brazil in recent years, such as Paleo, Dukan and, more recently, Whole 30.
In addition to this tendency associated with diets, another can also be noticed by the more attentive looks: the increase of the supply of artisanal pasta in the supermarkets, in the restaurants and even in some street markets. As a result, there is a increase of the variety of formats and flavors offered, including options already known as integrals, to curious compositions such as pasta made from green banana biomass. There are some more common flavors like beets and pumpkins, but the ones that draw the most attention are those of coffee, wine, chocolate, quinoa, ginger, yam, coconut, chickpeas and even passion fruit.
Mass consumption in the Brazilian market should continue to grow in the next two years, at a faster pace than in the rest of the world; is what Euromonitor research points. And, it seems, the Brazilian is already using his creativity in this market to offer products with a national accent.