All this talk about music is really making me hungry.
Scroll up through my last few posts and you’ll see photos of “Juliana Soup” and “Cozido à Portuguesa.” That’s what I ate in Lisbon working on “NO STRAIGHT LINES.” But now let’s get down to business. Directly overhead is a photo of a Brazilian “Feijoada Completa,” often called the national dish of Brazil. Now we’re talking real, “massive-coronary” food. Maybe the tastiness of Brazilian cuisine explains why Brazil reputedly gained independence from Portugal without a single bullet ever being fired. (Recognize I’m trying to rein myself in here. The Bahian food (e.g., vatapa, moqueca, and xin-xin de galinha) I had at the Covento do Carmo during Carnaval in Salvador in 1984 was some of the best food I’ve had in my life; and the Galinha de Cabidela (Chicken In Its Own Blood) at Nelson Faria‘s family farm outside Brasilia that same trip equally gratifying in its own way.)
I started cooking feijoada completas in the mid 1980s and surely have made that meal more than 100 times, probably even twice that. I have many stories to tell about past feijoadas and some really great hangs, too many to go into here…and many stories about where I’ve had eaten great feiojadas, including at the Tropical Hotels in both Manaus and Foz da Iguazu during the 1980s. (Years later I was at Iguassu Falls staying on the Argentina side and traveled over to the Tropical Hotel in Brazil just to have another go at their feijoada!)
In my last post I briefly mentioned Toninho Horta. I met him at a party at Sergio Mendes’ house the same night I met Ivan Lins and Djavan in about 1982 I imagine. I never saw Djavan again. I ran into Ivan briefly at the NARM Convention in 1989 when he was being promoted by Warners and I was being promoted there by Private/BMG. And once around the same time at a feijoada at John Pisano‘s house. Ivan still barely spoke English at that time. I remember he described how people disappeared during military rule in Brazil as “suddenly they never returned.” That about sums it up.
Many years ago Toninho was staying with me in LA, which seemed like a great reason to have a feijoada. Actually, Toninho later confessed to me he wasn’t all that fond of feijoada, preferring healthier food. This came as a surprise to me, especially because when I stayed with him in Belo Horizonte in 1984 he took me to a local restaurant to make sure before I leave Minas Gerais I eat this:
I always loved this lyric I wrote for Toninho’s “Aquelas Coisas Todas,” here recorded by the artist Kenia (with my old friend and bandmate Paul Socolow on bass):
But I digress. At this particular feijoada, Frank Zottoli (who, like Paul Socolow, eventually became fluent in Portuguese) showed up with a friend of his, Leon, who was a Brazilian chef. Leon made an absolutely killer hot sauce that night that everyone commented on. I was totally wrapped up preparing the basic meal (there were more than 30 guests) so I didn’t see how he made it but he left the recipe. I’ve had it pasted in my Brazilian cookbook for decades now. The key ingredient is in bold italics.
Leon’s Hot Sauce
Marinate the following ingredients:
Cilantro, chopped as fine as possible
Garlic minced into paste
Red onions minced as fine as possible
Malagueta peppers minced as fine as possible
Put above 3 ingredients in bowl and add:
2t rubbing alcohol or 3-4 t cachaca, whichever available
Green or red pepper, minced fine
Mix with cilantro (save 1/3 until the end)
Add 4-5T olive oil to alcohol mix
Salt, cumin, crushed black pepper or white pepper
Lemon or lime
Mix and add remaining cilantro at end
Before anyone does this at home, here is something I quickly found on the internet: “When ingested, isopropyl alcohol can cause: “drowsiness, unconsciousness, and death. Gastrointestinal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also result. The single lethal dose for a human adult = about 250 mls (8 ounces).”
Thank god we were totally safe!