Cultures Explained | 文化解密

巴西的 Salgados


Nothing says “home” to a Brazilian like salgados, the savory fried snacks that no family get-together or kid’s birthday party would be complete without. In this interview, DKU sophomore Giulia de Cristofaro tells us all about this quintessential Brazilian comfort food.



Austin: Can you explain your family background? 



Giulia: My father is Italian and my mother is Brazilian, so we grew up in this combined cultural household. My mother tongues are both Italian and Portuguese. My dad always valued learning languages and living in different places so he made sure my brothers and I got a global education and became acquainted with cultures outside of Brazil. Ever since I was young we’ve been moving, to Italy, to France, but we always came back to Brazil. 




Austin: So is there something that you strongly associate with Brazil?


Giulia: There’s this type of food called salgado. They’re little foods usually eaten at parties, especially children’s birthday parties. We also eat them between lunch and dinner, or some people won’t even have dinner and just have the afternoon lanchinho and eat salgados. Pão de Queijo is a well-known type of salgado, they’re these cheese balls made small or big. 

我们有一种好吃的零食叫salgado, 它是一种我们在聚会上吃的小零食,尤其是在孩子们的生日聚会上。我们一般会在午餐和晚餐之间吃Salgado,有些人甚至不吃晚餐,只吃下午的lanchinho和salgado。Pão de queijou也是一种有名的salgado,它们是一种金黄的芝士球点心,有大也有小。


Pão de Queijo


Austin: So it’s like a bunch of little foods, right? 


Giulia: Yeah, there are a variety of salgados. There’s this fried one with chicken in it, coxinha, it’s shaped like a teardrop. There are also some variations with cheese inside too. Another kind are pastéis, which are half-moon shaped. The dough is thicker and is filled with corn kernels and cheese.  

The flavor is different for each type of Salgado but they are all salty foods or snacks. So the pão de queijo (small cheese balls) taste like cheese while kibe is filled with beef and so tastes as such. Coxinha is chicken-filled, sometimes with cheese and other times without.

是的,我们有各种各样的salgado, 有一种裹着鸡肉的油炸salgado叫coxinha,它长得就像一滴眼泪一样。各种Salgado里面塞的奶酪也不太一样。还有一种是月牙形状的, 它的面团更厚,里面还塞满了玉米粒和奶酪。

不同salgados的味道也不太一样,但他们一般都是咸鲜口的小零食。像pão de queijo芝士球就是纯芝士的味道,而coxinha和kibe则是鸡肉味和牛肉味的,因为他们的内馅儿填的就是鸡肉和牛肉。




Austin: Got it, so just to help us imagine, there’s like little fried chicken fritters, and you mentioned some cheese balls… 


Giulia: Yeah, those are the most traditional ones. What I’ve come to understand is that certain salgados are associated with different states. My state, Minas Gerais, is famous for its cheese and dairy products. So we really enjoy our Pão de Queijo, it’s something unique to us. Last week I was having breakfast with some friends who are also from Minas Gerais and at the same instant, all of us said “oh some pão de queijo sounds so good right now!” All the other Brazilians were like, “wow of course you guys want to eat pão de queijo, you’re from Minas.” 

嗯,那些是最传统的。我后来也逐渐发现不同州的salgado也太一样。我所在的米纳斯吉拉斯州的乳制品很有名,所以我们特别爱吃的 pão de queijo,因为我们这儿产的pão de queijo芝士球的味道是独一无二的。上周我和一些同乡的朋友们一起吃早餐,所有人都说:“诶,现在真该来点pão de queijo!” 而别的州的人见我们都会说,“害,你们当然想吃 pão de queijo,毕竟你们来自米纳斯呀。” 



Austin: I see, so what you’re saying is that there are many different types, but how they’re eaten or which ones you prefer might depend on the region you’re from. Does that mean people from Minas Gerais will be more particular about pão de queijo? 

原来是这样啊,所以你想说的是salgado有很多不同种类,但你怎么吃、吃哪种可能取决于你来自哪个地方。那这是不是意味着米纳斯吉拉斯州的人们会对 pão de Queijo有更高的要求呢? 

Giulia: Yeah, I think there are more companies that make pão de queijo that are based here. We eat it a lot more. 

没错,我们那儿有更多做 pão de queijo芝士球的公司,所以我们经常吃这个。



Austin: You mentioned an association with childhood too, at birthday parties and school cafeterias. Could you share some of your earliest memories of salgados? 


Giulia: Typical Brazilian schools are different from the ones in the U.S. When you’re a kid, you begin classes at around 7:30am and finish classes at around 12:30. Around 9:30 to 10, you would have recess, and everybody has a morning snack. Your parents would usually either pack you food or give you money. I remember my mother giving me money and I would have to wait for my brothers in front of their classes. But I also had to rush because I didn’t want to get stuck in massive lines that would form with the upperclassmen. You choose what salgado you want and eat it in the cafeteria. 

巴西的学校与美国的学校不同,我们早上 7:30 左右开始上课,中午12:30 左右放学。大概在9:30到10点之间,会有一段休息时间,这时候每个人都会吃点零食。一般你的父母要么给你打包吃的带到学校,要么给你钱让你自己去买。我记得当时我妈妈会给我钱,但我得在教室门外等我哥哥、弟弟下了课一起去。我们必须得抓紧时间,不然就会体验到“大排长龙”的痛苦。我们会买自己想吃的salgado,然后坐在餐厅里吃。 



Austin: So, like you said, salgados are unhealthy comfort foods, do parents worry about their kids’ health when eating these a lot? 


Giulia: I think it’s cultural in that sense. Of course you won’t let your kid eat fried food every day. And not every single salgado is fried. In Brazil one of the “traditional” breakfast components is black coffee with buttered toast. So if you don’t have butter or bread, pão de queijo would be a good substitute. It’s baked, not fried, so it’s not too unhealthy. Salgado is more of a snack, so you’re not making an entire meal out of it, it’s not like having pizza where your whole meal is unhealthy. 

这还是得看情况。我觉得我们文化里对垃圾食品的认识可能还不太一样。但是家长肯定不会让孩子每天都吃油炸食品啦,而且并不是所有salgado都是油炸的。巴西的传统早餐是黑咖啡配黄油吐司,所以如果你不吃黄油或面包,把pão de queijo芝士球当早餐会是个不错的选择。它是烤的,不是油炸的,所以也不算那么不健康。Salgado 更像是一种小吃,而不是一顿饭,这跟量很足的披萨不一样,如果吃披萨的话,可能你整顿饭都不太健康。


不同品种的salgados – 


Austin: Got it, so I wanted to go back to the scene where you described being a little kid and wanting to be at the front of the line to select your favorite salgado. Which kind was your favorite when you were a kid?  


Giulia: I almost always just got the normal pão de queijo, but some days I would venture out and get the fancy kind. A lot of kids stuck to the mini pizzas. Some people would get enrolados, a kind of baked bread filled with cheese and ham. Coxinha was also pretty popular. It usually depended on the parents and how much money they had. 

我吃的几乎都是普通的pão de queijo,但有时我会挑战一些花里胡哨的。很多孩子都喜欢吃一种迷你披萨,有些人喜欢 enrolados(一种装满奶酪和火腿的烤面包),coxinha也很受欢迎。我们买什么通常取决于兜里有多少钱。


Enrolados –


Austin: Are there any people you particularly associate with salgados? 


Giulia: Oh, my aunt for sure. Her mom and my grandma are very close, so every week she wants the whole family to get together and eat. Especially with the pandemic, it’s harder to see people, so she’s always planning lanchinhos, she’d often say “oh come to my house today!” My baby cousin was born a month ago, so my aunt of course was like “oh, we gotta have a lanchinho there!” It’s a great time because there’s good food and good company.  





Austin: Can you explain what lanchinho means? 

你能解释一下 lanchinho 是什么意思吗? 

Giulia: So lanche is just the name, we put -inho in things as a diminutive, so lanchinho means “little lunch,” it’s a cute way to call it. You could use -inho on names too, it’s an endearing term. 

lanche指的是“午餐”这个词,-inho 是一个词尾,所以lanchinho的意思是“小午餐”。其实,很多名词加上-inho就会变成一种很可爱的叫法。在名字里加上-inho,就变成了一个可爱的昵称。




Austin: Since your aunt is always the one organizing these events, is she always making these salgados? Or buying them? 


Giulia: My aunt makes them. Part of the fun is bringing the whole family together to make the food, especially the sweet snacks. 





Austin: Got it, so the preparation process becomes a social activity as well. It’s like rolling dumplings in Chinese culture.  

哦所以做吃的这件事也是有人情味的, 就像中国文化里的包饺子。 

One thing I find interesting about food culture is that some people are very particular about certain things. Is there a common preference or a certain way of eating salgados or specifically pão de queijo? 


Giulia: No, you can eat it however you like. If you want to eat it with a knife, go for it! Usually we just eat it with our hands since it’s a finger food.  




Austin: Do you have any memorable moments where salgados were being eaten? 


Giulia: I think I mostly associate salgados with gatherings. In Brazil, they’re often a must-have at birthday parties, even if you’re older. For events, you can buy salgados in “party kits.” They usually come in tray-like boxes and we will order about 200 or 300 of them.   


Alongside the trays of salgados, there will also be a huge spread of sweets on the cake table. However, unlike salgados, you can’t just eat them whenever you want at a party. You can only have the sweets after everyone sings happy birthday because during the party, friends and family will take pictures with the birthday person in front of the cake table. It can get messy very quickly when everyone “attacks” the table to get their favorite sweets. One of my birthday parties was like that as we had three separate sweets tables so it was easy to steal some. But there were these animator people trying to distract the kids from eating the sweets before they’re supposed to. In Brazil, you hire these adults, these “animator people,” usually from a professional company, that will entertain and supervise the children at parties. They often bring a trampoline, maybe organize some games like tug-of-war or hide-and-seek, and clean up after the party. They’ll dress up too, like superheros or Disney characters.   




Children’s birthday party

Animator people dressed as Spiderman

Giulia: After singing happy birthday we will sing “com quem sera?” which means “who are you gonna marry?” Do you have anything like that in America?  





Austin: No, can you explain that more?   


Giulia: That’s the best part of a birthday! Well it’s the worst for the person who’s celebrating their birthday. Especially for me, since my brothers and I (we’re triplets) all share the same birthday. Our parties were huge.  


Imagine you’re young, you have a crush and you don’t want anyone to know. You stand in front of your friends and family as they sing happy birthday followed by ‘com quem sera’, which goes like “who is it gonna be, who is it gonna be, that so and so is going to marry?” Then, your close friends—who probably know who your crush is—will scream out their name.   


As you run and hide from embarrassment, your crush, who was just called out in front of more than a hundred people, will just stand there awkwardly. And everyone would finish off the song with “it will depend, it will depend, if they will want to~!”   


When that’s all done we can finally eat the sweets. I remember very clearly that my cousins and I would strategically place ourselves around the sweets table during happy birthday songs so that we could get the sweets we wanted as soon as the song ended. We would wait for the animator person to say “ok, you can attack!” and the sweets would be gone in a matter of minutes.  





Austin: Wow, you have a lot of childhood stories of salgados! Were there any moments involving salgados that made you realize you’re getting older and growing up? 


Giulia: Yeah, I guess the first thing you notice as you get older is that the salgados are small, haha. Like I can’t just eat two of them and be full. Also the fact that I can make them on my own now, especially since I’m currently in Brazil. When I was studying in Switzerland I could barely find any of the ingredients to make good salgados.  



Another big difference is as you get older you don’t have huge birthday parties anymore, with the whole spectacle, sweets and animator people. Salgados become less and less important and usually are bought instead of made at home.  




Austin: Right, but you also mentioned that they’re common in all informal gatherings right?


Giulia: Oh yeah, yeah, there are stores all over the place for salgados. We have them in any situation.  




Austin: Cool, you’ve painted a vivid image in our minds here on what it was like growing up eating these and why you would look forward to them so much when you had been away from Brazil for so long. What types of cheese are commonly used in salgados?  


Giulia: Cheese from my state is called queijo minas, we use that the most. And we don’t go light on them! Which is weird right, because it contradicts the stereotype that in Brazil, everyone is skinny or super fit when we also enjoy all these greasy and unhealthy foods.   



米纳斯奶酪  Queijo minas


Austin: If people are really obsessed with trying to stay skinny and fit, is there a huge struggle in making healthy food choices?  


Giulia: Skinny and fit culture is very prominent here. They’ve made healthy alternatives for almost everything. Stores have different sections and foods are cooked differently just for that. There’s a massive variety of buffets specifically for people who are trying to keep fit.   




Austin: So if I were a Brazilian trying to stay thin, would I eat salgados? Even if I were at a party?  


Giulia: If you’re at a party, then sure! Here we say “there’s no use going to the movies if you’re not going to have popcorn.” It’s similar to another song we sing at birthdays, which goes “I forgot to bring the good gift, I just came to eat!” It’s a thing in Brazil to take home salgados and sweets after a party. Everyone will have a plate full of them in their hands.  




Austin: It sounds like part of the fun is not just having all these delicious foods and celebration, but also, getting to take home a bunch of things.   


Giulia: Oh definitely! It’s not considered impolite at all. Usually at parties kids will bring home a goodie bag, we call them lembrancinha. It means “little memory.” It’ll be cute things like a pencil case or a fish in a bag.  



派对回忆礼袋 – Goodie bag at children’s parties


Austin: Hearing all the little snacks you mentioned together, it creates this impression of abundance and variety.  


Giulia: Yeah in Brazil we like to do everything the way we do our salgados, in a fun, extravagant way.


英文编辑 English Editors | Erica Ham  Faith Ho  Austin Woerner

中文翻译和编辑 Translators and Chinese Editors | 

孙骥远  何思樾  王若菡  张家祺  何思畅   

排版 Layout | 何思樾



Giulia de Cristofaro is a rising junior, studying Political Economy at Duke Kunshan University. She is both Brazilian and Italian and, in her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and playing volleyball. 

Giulia de Cristofaro (孔杰琳) 是昆山杜克大学政治经济学专业的大二学生。她的文化背景非常多元,她具有巴西和意大利双国籍,也曾在多个国家留学访问。她闲暇时喜欢和朋友一起放松,一起打排球。

Austin Woerner teaches English and creative writing at DKU. He is the coordinator for the Intersections project.

Austin Woerner (温侯廷)是DKU英语和创意写作课程的教授,也是《交集》项目的创始人。