Notable Differences: BBQ or Churrasco (Part 1)

There are notable differences between America and Brazil.  In this series of posts I will attempt to highlight some differences which I have observed between America and Brazil.  The differences which I will share will have parts that are seemingly inconsequential and other parts which are very serious.  The first notable difference which I want to highlight is that of BBQ and to do this I want to highlight 4 differences.  The first is simply in the name.  Americans refer to it as BBQ while Brazilians refer to it as Churrasco.  This difference is very minor in the world of BBQ but without using the correct word you will not be able to enjoy a good BBQ.

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BBQ Pork Ribs with BBQ Sauce

The second big difference between BBQ and Churrasco has to do with the way that things are generally cooked.  In the United States BBQ is normally done on grills and in Brazil Churrasco is done using spits.  The grills have an advantage if you are cooking little round balls or hamburgers as they provide a surface for the perspective meats to rest on while they cook and the individual pieces are then turned.  The spits have an advantage especially when you are cooking whole pieces of meat, allowing for all sides of the meat to be cooked in an even manner and the spits are also able to easily move entire blocks of meat from one part of the BBQ to the other part.

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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Balls and Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

The third difference is the seasoning which is normally used on the meat.  BBQ in America is normally accompanied by a sauce of some sort which is applied to the meat before, during or after cooking.  For example a BBQ sauce or a teriyaki sauce of some sort for whole pieces of meat while hamburgers get their sauce typically ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise added later.  Churrasco in Brazil normally seasons the meat with only rock salt which is knocked off after the meat is done cooking.  This allows for the meat to actually taste like the cut of meat rather than in America where BBQ sometimes means that all of the meats have the same or similar flavor and with enough sauce you might not even know what type of meat you are eating.

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Pork and Beef on the Spits

The fourth difference is the place of BBQ or Churrasco in the life of people.  In the United States people argue over the type of heat source you will use and the make of the grill you will use for cooking the meat.  Do you prefer wood, charcoal, pellets, or gas to cook your meat and then do you prefer an open grill, smoker, or an enclosed grill.  In Brazil the type of grill is an open pit with either charcoal or wood that you use to cook the meat and the only real argument is at which level over the grill you will cook your meat.  The other thing signifying the importance Churrasco in the life of the Brazilian is that the Churrascaria which is normally built into each families home in either the kitchen, living room, just outside the back door.  The Americans on the other hand do not normally have their grills built into 90% of their homes but instead will buy their own and bring it to each house.

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Churrascaria in the family room with beef on spits

It is not for me to decide which is better BBQ or Churrasco but instead to embrace every opportunity to eat both that I can and to enjoy each and every one of the differences.  I am also striving to be able to blend the best of BBQ ad Churrasco into a fusion that is all my own.

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5 thoughts on “Notable Differences: BBQ or Churrasco (Part 1)

  1. Enjoyed. Where does the smoke go? Is it hard to clean. Do you have a real oven like we are used to? You are certainly a great cook. Your Mom did a great job of teaching you. Is meat expensive there? Do they have large grocery stores there? So many things must be different. What an adventure! Always love reading your updates.

    • Your questions are great. I will answer them in another blog. But the smoke goes up the chimney, the oven is smaller, meat is cheaper, and they have grocery stores of all sizes.

  2. Super cool blog. I knew about both styles, and I’ve had Brazilian bbq American style as well as several American style bbq meats, but I never compared and contrasted them like u did. Your blended version should be awesome. Love and prayer, Auntie Carolyn

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