Polyana, the author of "Travel to Brazil: The Cookbook"

Are you hungry for travel? Do you miss trying authentic local food around the world? Meet Polyana de Oliveira (Poly), the author of "Travel to Brazil: The Cookbook" and take a journey to Brazil through her book!

About Poly: Brazilian food was front and center of our family

I was born in Brazil, but raised in the United States. I moved back to Brazil after college. I’ve always loved food. I come from a family where food was always really important to us, and especially, being outside the country, Brazilian food was front and center of our family gatherings. I didn’t develop a curiosity for cooking much until I moved to Brazil though, and didn’t have my parents around to bring me prepped foods, so I’d try to recreate some of my mother’s dishes. I ended up falling in love with cooking, and it’s become almost therapeutic and less of a daily task. In college, I studied Global Studies too, so I have always been curious about different cultures, and different peoples’ foods, and why they eat what they eat.

Dishes from the State of Minas Gerais - Photo Credit: Nathalia Segato

My mission is to introduce local traditions in Brazil and more

I now own a travel agency that works with incoming travel to Brazil, and so part of my work is to showcase the country’s cultures through experiencing the variety of dishes you’ll find, regional food production and locals’ culinary traditions. In the end, I’ve found this is an enjoyable and literally (ful)filling way to immerse ourselves in our travels, and our clients leave with a sense of what makes each Brazilian region so unique, but also what ties the country together. This makes me feel like I’ve fulfilled my mission in introducing travelers to local traditions in Brazil, removing a bit of the stereotypes, and bringing cultural exchanges and gains to local communities as well.

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Brazil has its own champions in sustainability and social justice

The book highlights local travel providers around the country. It is a means to get their image and travel products out into the world, whilst also sharing their stories. At my agency, we make it a point to work with providers who are committed to the preservation of their local cultures and environments, and this is a theme found throughout the book, so it’s a message that shows the world Brazil has its own champions in sustainability and social justice, working through travel.

Also, 10% of the profits of the book are going towards community-based tourism projects in Brazil, such as Projeto Bagagem (a national NGO), and local organizations found in the book (Adocci, MMIB, and Instituto Negralinda), in order to support their livelihoods throughout the pandemic, and hopefully beyond.

Negralinda from the Instituto Negralinda

This cookbook allows everyone to travel to Brazil without leaving home and support local communities

When the pandemic hit, and we saw everyone was looking for ways to “travel” without leaving home, and at-home cooking was soaring, I thought it would be a fun idea to create something to keep our prospective travelers interested in Brazil, but also do so from home.

In the end, I figured it could be more - a way to showcase our local providers and the country’s diversity, a “thank you gift” for clients who would eventually book with us, and a means to support local communities struggling with the lack of travel!

Local market in Salvador, Brazil - Photo Credit: Nathalia Segato

Brazilian food is a mix of indigenous, African, and European cuisines

I learned so much about regional Brazilian ingredients, and how important the history of each region was to shaping their cuisine. I guess this is something we think we already “know,” but I was able to dive a little deeper into this, and it makes me appreciate the food I’m preparing so much more.

It is commonly said, for example, that Brazilian food is a mix of indigenous, African, and European cuisines, but I learned which indigenous communities were behind certain dishes, and which parts of Africa certain ingredients and dishes were inspired by. I learned about different traditions of fishing and agriculture that are very local and so ingrained in certain regions’ cultures. I also learned so much about food in general - I studied many cookbooks and how to write recipes, what the actual chemistry behind cooking is, and how some of our ancestors learned methods simply by testing things out and passing them down by tradition.

Brazilian ingredients - Photo Credit: Nathalia Segato

Feijão tropeiro: My favorite recipe made by an incredibly strong and inspirational woman

If it had to come down to it, I’d say my favorite recipe in the book is the feijão tropeiro. This is already one of my favorite foods, and the story behind this particular recipe is the story of an incredibly strong and inspirational woman, who grew her business and restaurant selling this particular dish in a local market. The dish is a bean dish made with cassava flour, different cuts of pork, and collard greens. It brings together those elements I talked about with the indigenous (cassava flour), Portuguese (pork), and African (collard greens) inspiration. And beans are a Brazilian staple no matter where you live in the country!

Feijão Tropeiro - Photo Credit: Mallory Ferland

We’re more than just whatever you find in your Brazilian restaurant at home, or the stereotypes people have of Brazil

You’ll see in the book that we’re a country filled with stories of all kinds, and I think that’s the ultimate story. We’re more than just whatever you find in your Brazilian restaurant at home, or the stereotypes people have of Brazil. We’re a huge country filled with diverse stories, experiences, foods, and people. I try to show that to my clients who spend their trips in Brazil crossing the country from north to south, and this is something that’s also very evident in the book.

Brazil is a country filled with stories of all kinds - Photo Credit: Nathalia Segato

If Brazil was a person...

She would be strong, resistant to change, and incredibly creative, enjoy spending time in nature, and would be outgoing, and love to wear bright colors!

Poly's book "Travel to Brazil: The Cookbook"

Travel to Brazil: The Cookbook,” contains not only recipes, but the personal stories behind them, an exploration of the different cultures also found throughout Brazil, how its history brought these foods to become tradition, and a preview of some of Brazil’s most interesting travel destinations (and travel providers).

Review from the customer

"This book is so much more than a recipe book - the stories about the recipes, the contributors and the local customs are rich and transport you directly to the heart of the Brazilian culture. However it is also a recipe book with fabulous new dishes to try and new favourites to establish. We are enjoying working our way through it, making our own food adventure."

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To learn more about Poly's work and Viare Travel, visit her at:

As the lockdown around the world continues, with no end in sight, you might be sitting at home wishing you could travel to some exciting location. But, with just a coffee grinder, a mug, and some fresh filtered water you can be transported to Brazil, Colombia, or Vietnam. Enter: Coffee Tasting. Like wine tasting, this experience encourages you to dive deeper into the body and depth of the coffee, and learn how to taste its origins. This “travel” is available to almost everyone and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Coffee tasting is a wonderful way to take a pause and savor a moment to yourself, and here you can learn how to prepare your coffee, the different flavor profiles you can taste, and how to taste where your coffee originated.

Coffee tasting, or cupping as many industry professionals call it, only requires a few things to participate. Firstly, a coffee of your choice, preferably whole coffee beans, rather than ground coffee or instant coffee. Next, a freshly cleaned coffee grinder. You don’t want to have any remnants of the last coffee you ground remaining that could affect your tasting profile. You’ll also need fresh filtered water, a brewer, and a spoon. Lastly, you will need a ceramic mug. A ceramic mug is crucial because it doesn’t soak up any flavors, nor does it pass on any flavors into the coffee.

So how do you begin? After grinding and preparing your coffee, there are several steps involved in the coffee tasting. The starting steps involve your sense of smell. After pouring your cup, let it sit for around 4 minutes to let the flavors “bloom.” Once the 4 minutes are up, sniff your coffee by bringing your nose to the mug and inhaling, and note what you smell. You want to bring your nose to the coffee, rather than bringing the coffee to your nose so as to not disturb this top layer of smells. After this initial smell, take a spoon and dip it into the coffee, which releases another round of aromas. Take a sniff again and acknowledge the different notes you smell. Following these rounds of smelling comes your tasting. Get a spoonful of coffee and sip it, allowing it to coat your entire palate.

There are 3 questions you should ask yourself while you are tasting your coffee, according to Blue Bottle Coffee Lab: 1. How does this taste?

2. Why do I like it?

3. Or, why do I not like it?

Answering these questions each time you do a coffee tasting will help you develop your “sensory spectrum” and your palate. The more coffee tastings you do, the more you will be able to pick out the individual flavors. These flavor profiles fall into 5 categories:

1. Sweetness

Can you taste any sweetness or sugary-like quality in the coffee? Does it remind you of a specific type of sweet, like honey or syrup or vanilla? Or maybe it’s a type of sugar, like brown or white? Try and parse out what the sweetness is reminiscent of. You can even get out these different sweet products and taste them side-by-side with your coffee.

2. Body

The body of the coffee is how “weighty” it feels in your mouth. Does the coffee feel thick or thin in consistency?

3. Acidity

When you taste your coffee, does it taste bright? That is the level of acidity. It can be positive or negative depending on the person, so savor the taste and see if you like it. Compare that acidity to a lemon, a lime, or something else that is bright and sharp.

4. Flavor

This is where you can really dive deep and compare the taste to different foods or drinks you have in your flavor memory. Is it florally like a rose? Is it fruity like a berry or citrus? Maybe it has a similar profile to a wine you’ve had or a liquor. There are so many different flavors that it can be difficult to sift through. That’s why The Specialty Coffee Association of America created a coffee wheel that breaks down the basic flavor you’re tasting and helps you narrow down the precise taste in your coffee.

5. Finish

This is the final impression the coffee gives you right as you swallow. Concentrate and see what type of flavor remains in your mouth. Is it sweet? Dry? Lingering? Process what is left.

As you taste coffee more and more, you will begin to discover the unique flavor profiles that come from the origin of the beans. There are many different components that influence the taste of your coffee, including whether it’s an Arabica or a Robusta species of coffee bean, the climate where it is grown, and how it is prepared after harvesting. All coffee is processed, but depending on the region, coffee is processed differently after the initial harvest. Some coffees allow the cherry that encases the bean to dry and shrivel before removing the bean. This leaves behind a sweet, complex flavor. Others wash the cherry off immediately because it is quicker, leaving a bright, acidic taste.

For example, a coffee from Central America is more acidic and has an apple profile because of the way it is processed, whereas Columbian coffees are less acidic, with more of a caramel sweetness. Brazilian coffees have a chocolate taste. Ethiopian coffees are the most difficult to identify because they use two different processes to prepare their coffee. In Ethiopia, If the cherry is dried around the bean before the bean is removed, then the coffee has a flavor reminiscent of a berry. If the cherry is immediately removed from the bean by washing it, the coffee is more jasmine-y and lighter. There are many more individual regions that produce coffee that you can try, but these regions are some of the biggest producers in the world, so it’s likely you will have a coffee from one of the places mentioned.

Hosting a coffee tasting or participating in one yourself can be a wonderful way to experience the unique tastes and flavor profiles of different regions in the world. Each region has its own processes that produce a specific and distinctive bean. One critical component to consider while doing a coffee tasting is whether your coffee is certified fair trade. Having the certification ensures that your coffee is coming from a farm that performs environmental sustainability and fair labor practices. There are so many resources out there that can help you continue to enhance your palate. The more you sample and analyze coffees, the easier it will become to identify individual tastes and flavors. Have fun cupping and traveling the world through your coffee!


Photo credit: Diana Bermudez

What comes to mind when you hear the term Indigenous Peoples?

Is it thoughts of long-vanished, ancient cultures? Perhaps the kind of civilizations that you can only read about in history books or study the remnants of at museums?

Or does the phrase bring to the surface feelings of admiration and empathy? Maybe it even activates treasured memories of experiences with living, breathing, persevering human beings with a rich heritage and wealth of wisdom.

If you’ve been tuning into our social media over the previous few months, we hope your answer to that question is closer to the latter.

On the heels of a tsunami of knowledge spread on Indigenous People’s Day (and magnified by Native American Heritage Month in November), we’ve sought to raise awareness about the issues faced by the descendants of those who survived massacres and the scourge of colonization. By amplifying their knowledge and experiences, we’ve been allies in shedding light on crucial social issues such as: the epidemic of missing/murdered Indigenous women, land theft, and cultural genocide through whitewashing and appropriation.

Now, in this new year of opportunity, it’s a great time to reconnect with the Native causes closest to our hearts and create a plan of action for allyship. Here’s a recap of 3 things everyone should know about Indigenous Peoples.

1. “We’re Still Here"

How would you feel if people spoke as though you no longer existed?

Especially while you were living, working, and fighting for all the world to see.

Aboriginal Australians, Native Americans, Indigenous African tribes and other Indigenous Peoples..they’re not mythical relics of a bygone era. They all continue to live and persevere despite all that’s been done to them over the centuries.

Photo credit: The Meraki Story

For example, here are some staggering stats from The Meraki Story:

  • Indigenous women face murder rates that are 10 times the national average

  • In 2018, there were 5,712 known incidents of missing Indigenous women but only 116 registered with the DOJ

  • Homicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Indigenous women

  • Suicide rates for Native American women in 2019 were up 139% (USA Today)

  • Native Americans are three times more likely to have diabetes and having a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the US average ( US Department of Health)

And yet, the knowledge of their traditions and awareness of their struggles for basic human rights has continued to progress. In spite of generational trauma, the destruction of their homes, theft of their land, pollution of their water, and the continued killings - they persist. Their distinct cuisines, customs, music, dance, art and stories have a worldwide reach.

2. Thanksgiving Is A Colonizer Holiday

There’s a familiar saying: “History is written by the victors.”

But can we agree that there’s no victory in a series of massacres? No honor in the theft of lives, land, and natural resources? No gratitude in the cleansing and burying of entire histories and traditions? Because that’s what Thanksgiving was and is a continuation of in the eyes of First Nations.

Thanksgiving wasn’t the genesis of unity between settlers and the Wampanoag people. Nor was it the focus of some mutually beneficial cooperation between the invaders and natives. In fact, some Native American tribes consider it an official Day of Mourning. A reminder of either a celebrated genocide or evidence of the willful indifference to the truth of those times.

Indigenous voices say it best. Project Native Hope shared this quote from the United American Indians of New England:

"Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience."

Lastly, giving thanks (regularly, spontaneously and w/o obligation) is a central tenet of many older civilizations. It is a decidedly more sustainable and rewarding tradition than a whitewashed and commercialized Thanksgiving holiday.

3. Land Loss & Land Defenders

How much land has been stolen from your family? From your people, country, or even you individually? For First Peoples the world over, being dispossessed is a common (even expected) narrative. Generations of their children are born into this fight and are raised to continue reaching for what’s rightfully theirs as stipulated by numerous treaties.

This struggle to reclaim what was taken and hold on to what remains affects all of us. Why? Because the deeply ingrained lifestyle of harmonious, balanced living with the environment makes them among the best stewards of the natural world. From the Amazon Rainforest to Native reservations across the United States, communities organize to keep both countries and corporations from extracting resources from the land in a way that harms our habitats for the worse.

Mind-altering fact: One-third of the world’s remaining intact forests are found in Indigenous regions, according to Amazon Frontlines. So, as true defenders, they have a vested interest in preserving the land itself along with their legal rights to it. Those efforts protect us all during a time when our planet is facing a climate crisis. The original inhabitants are defending land and helping the world avert environmental disaster.

What Now? From Awareness To Action

Change is happening.

Battles are being fought on countless social and environmental fronts.

How can we be silent now that we know the scope of what’s at stake and how many lives are tied to these causes? In closing, here are a few guidelines on how to get started:

  • Be more aware of the history of your home, the land it’s on, the people who were there before.

  • Find out (directly from Indigenous sources) what’s specifically being advocated for in your area and how you can help.

  • Listen to those who live everyday with the fallout from centuries of heinous, unrectified wrongs that are continuing on a daily basis.

  • Let’s use our power of privilege. In our homes, at work, and through socio-political organizations in order to affect real change. Speak up and be an active ally.

Join in solidarity with Native causes. Through education, empathy, understanding, and actions we can transform their struggle into our fight.