Barbecue By Another Name: Brazilian Churrasco
"Barbecue Nation," a new exhibit at the Atlanta History Center, takes a deep dive into the history and culture of the South's most-loved food. But barbecue, like the South and the rest of the United States, is increasingly global. So "On Second Thought" is setting out on a series of roadtrips to see how different cultures and countries represented right here in Georgia do barbecue.
We started off with a visit to Chama Gaúcha, a Brazilian restaurant in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Nelcir Muller, the general manager, took us inside the kitchen to show us how people in Brazil — South America's largest country — make their barbecue. In Portugeuse it's called "churrasco."
Muller is from the mountainous, coastal state of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, but he now calls Georgia home. In fact, he just became a U.S. citizen. But making churrasco, Muller told us, transports him back to the farm where his parents and grandparents taught him the culinary and cultural traditions of their country.
So how does churrasco compare to the slow-roasted pork and tangy slaw we savor in the South?
For one, rock salt is the only seasoning involved. Rather than pork, beef is the star of the show. At Chama Gaúcha you can garnish the "espeto corrido" (all-you-can-eat) steak with chimichurri and a vinaigrette made from onions and bell peppers, but you won't find any Sweet Baby Ray's. And the longest anything spends on the grill is about two hours for prime rib. Everything else cooks within minutes over a blazing fire on a bed of hot coals.
One thing Brazilian and American barbecue definitely have in common?
The irresistible temptation to keep eating and eating and eating.