What is Farofa?

Farofa is the most well know accompaniment in Brazil. Farofa is a toasted manioc (yuca) flour mixture. It is eaten in South America and West Africa, especially in Brazil and Nigeria, which is the largest producer of manioc (yuca) or cassava flour. In Nigeria, farofa is also known as gari.

Manioc (yuca) or cassava flour is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world1. The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1mm thick, rough and brown on the outside. Commercial varieties can be 5 to 10 cm in diameter  at the top, and around 15 cm to 30 cm long. A woody cordon runs along the root’s axis. The flesh can be chalk-white or yellowish. Cassava roots are very rich in starch, and contain significant amounts of calcium (50 mg/100g), phosphorus (40 mg/100g) and vitamin C (25 mg/100g). However, they are poor in protein and other nutrients. In contrast, cassava leaves are a good source of protein if supplemented with the amino acid methionine2.

In Brazil farofa its an essential part of two vary popular dishes: the feijoada, the Brazilian national dish, a black beans stew dish with beef and pork and several spices; and the churrasco, the Brazilian BBQ. In both dishes the farofa is serve as an accompaniment and is always the crowed favor, you can’t have either of these two dishes without the farofa.

Since it’s large produced in Northeast Brazil where there is a higher concentration of poor people, the farofa sometimes is the only food on the table. It’s sad to say but sometimes these people are fortunate to have farofa to eat then nothing at all. Problems will come later as farofa is not a good source of nutrients on its own.

In Brazil, farofa is also a derogative slang term for a cheap day trip to the beach, especially one in which people eat a picnic on the sand and don’t pick up their trash. Someone who does a farofa is called a farofeiro. Low-income beachgoers, who can’t afford to stay overnight, will sometimes take an excursion bus for the day and also pack a lunch – a plastic bag full of farofa to go with a container of chicken being a cheap option, hence the term.

Here is the recipe for farofa3:

2-3 tablespoons of oil or butter
1  chopped onion
250 g. of chopped bacon
1 package of toasted manioc flour (500 g)
chopped parsley and spring onion
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and bacon in hot oil.
Add the flour bit by bit, all the seasonings and stir-fry well.
Put the “farofa” on a plate and serve it.

Here in San Diego, you can find the manioc or yuca flour in several Brazilian or Latin markets4. You can buy the plain manioc or yuca flour or you can buy the ready to eat farofa, pratical and convenient especially for those that want to make sure they taste the farofa flavor first before they can adventure on their own to make their especial type of farofa. Once you become familiar com the manioc or yuca flour, many other experiences and recipes will come to your mind, from eggs in the breakfast to even deserts, there is always a good fit for this flour in the Brazilian menu.

1 ^ Phillips, T. P. (1983). An overview of cassava consumption and production. In Cassava Toxicity and Thyroid; Proceedings of a Workshop, Ottawa, 1982 (International Development Research Centre Monograph 207e). pp. 83–88 [F. Delange and R. Ahluwalia. editors]. Ottawa. Canada: International Development Research Centre.

2 Cassva description from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

3 Farofa Recipe from Sonia-Portuguese.com

4 List of a few markets in San Diego:

Tropical Star
6163 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92111
Neighborhood: Clairemont
(858) 874-7827

Andre’s Restaurant & Latin Market
1235 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Neighborhood: Linda Vista
(619) 275-4114

Acai Boutique & Brazilian Market
1570 Garnet Ave
(between Haines St & Ingraham St)
San Diego, CA 92109
Neighborhood: Pacific Beach
(858) 270-1822

Brazil by the Bay
3770 Hancock St
Ste G
(between Channel Way & Kurtz St)
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 692-1410

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