The Brazilian Breakfast Tradition That Pairs Coffee And French Bread

In the United States, you might have a muffin or a biscuit with your morning mug of coffee just like many Brits go for a classic English scone with their breakfast tea. Down in Brazil, one traditional breakfast pairing for a quick-fix that'll get the day started is a bit different, but it still involves caffeine and a starchy bread. For an easy morning meal, many Brazilians grab pão francês, a French bread that's served with their preferred cup of coffee.

It's not the most elaborate meal compared to other traditional Brazilian dishes — like feijoada (a hearty stew) and picanha (skewered steaks) — but breakfast is usually a light affair in this country anyway. It's common to pick a freshly-baked French bread at a neighborhood bakery on the morning commute or to enjoy at home. The preferred bread is a roll typically made with wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt. It's crusty on the outside and light on the inside, similar to the textures of baguette, although it's not a bread commonly found in France. Rumors are that wealthy Brazilians who traveled to Europe wanted to bring Parisian bread back to their country and got French bakers to teach them techniques. It seems to have paid off considering it's one of the country's most popular breads, and it even warrants it's own holiday, Pão Francês Day, which is celebrated in March.

Wash down pão na chapa with coffee like pingado

Pão francês is the name for the bread itself, but it can be served in a couple of different ways to start the morning. It's called pão na chapa, which translates to grilled bread, when the French bread is cut in half, heated in a skillet, then served with a smear of butter. It can also be served with fruit jam, cheese, or ham for a slightly more decadent breakfast. If you're sitting down for a complete breakfast, there might be some fresh fruit like papaya or an açai smoothie included, but the bread alone is usually a grab-and-go breakfast item to pair with coffee.

Pão na chapa can be served with any of your favorite caffeinated beverages. But to keep it traditional, try it with café pingado, a combo of steamed milk and sweetened Portuguese coffee that's popular with the bread for many Brazilians. Small cups of black coffee with sugar are also common if you like to skip the dairy in your morning cup of brew. And if you want to make your own South American-inspired breakfast or other feast at home, you must get familiar with some essential ingredients for Brazilian cooking including cashews and coconut.