The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Brazilian Food
The diverse cultural heritage of Brazil has greatly shaped its food traditions. As a result, Brazilian cuisine is a fusion of European, African, and indigenous culinary influences. The five countries with the most similar food also have multicultural populations. In addition, these nations are all located in tropical regions. In addition these five countries were once colonies of Spain and are predominately Catholic.
- Colombia is located to the north of Brazil. The country’s emphasis on hearty ingredients, vibrant spices, and tropical fruits creates a remarkable resemblance to Brazilian food. Both cuisines feature staple ingredients like wheat, rice, beans, and plantains. Additionally, both Brazil and Colombia share a love for savory street foods, such as empanadas, arepas, and grilled meats.
- Costa Rica is in North America, but its food is similar to Brazil’s as well. It is characterized by its simplicity and emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients. Both countries often eat rice and beans, known as “gallo pinto” in Costa Rica and “feijoada” in Brazil. Additionally, bananas feature prominently in both Brazilian and Costa Rican dishes, adding a refreshing touch to the palate.
- Bolivia is on Brazil’s western border. Both countries consume a lot of wheat, rice, corn, and bananas, although potatoes are most commonly eaten in Bolivia. In addition, both countries love to eat hearty soups and stews. Furthermore, both countries love to barbecue. Brazil’s churrasco tradition is akin to Bolivia’s “asado”.
- Ecuador is another South American country on Brazil’s western border. Both cuisines utilize ingredients such as plantains, wheat, and rice. Additionally, both countries have a fondness for ceviche, typically accompanied by citrus juices and served with crispy plantain chips. The use of herbs, spices, and chili peppers is also prevalent in both Ecuadorian and Brazilian dishes.
- Cuba and Brazil both have many people with mixed European and African ancestry. Their cuisines share some intriguing parallels as well. Both make ample use of rice, beans, and plantains. Moros y cristianos and feijoada are very similar dishes that feature black beans. Moreover, the use of spices, such as cumin and oregano, adds depth of flavor to dishes in both Cuban and Brazilian food.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Brazilian Food
Few countries have food that is far different from Brazil, since its cuisine is quite diverse. Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Brazil are located in Africa. These countries are not as developed as Brazil and do not eat nearly as much meat. Interestingly enough, four of the five countries have tropical climates similar to Brazil.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the Sahel region of Africa. It has an extremely hot and dry climate, in contrast to Brazil. Its two most common staple foods are millet and sorghum, two grains that are rarely consumed in Brazil. Some traditional dishes in Niger include tuwo, a porridge made from millet or sorghum, and dambunama, a dish made from millet, vegetables, and meat.
- Solomon Islands is the only nation not in Africa on this list. It is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s diet is much more reliant on sweet potato, yam, taro, and coconut than Brazil. Furthermore, pelagic fish are its largest source of meat, while the Solomon Islands eat relatively little beef or chicken.
- South Sudan is a country in the middle of Africa. Cassava is its primary staple food, however the country eats a lot of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. In addition, South Sudanese cuisine features a variety of sauces and condiments made with peanuts, sesame seed, unlike Brazilian cuisine.
- Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil are both tropical countries and have a lot of rainforest. However, their diets are significantly different. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country, while the most commonly eaten meat is fish. Furthermore, in contrast to Brazil, their diet has little meat in it. However, plantains are commonly eaten in both countries.
- Sierra Leone is a predominately Muslim country in West Africa that was once a British colony. The vast majority of their diet is made up of rice and cassava products, although Brazil typically eats these staples as well. Like Congo, most of the meat eaten in this country is fish, since the country’s population is located close to the Atlantic Coast.
Brazil’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Beef
Fruit: Banana, Orange
Vegetable: Tomato, Bean
Starch: Wheat, Rice
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.