How is Latino Hispanic culture different from Latino Brazilian culture?
Thinking of Latin America as Spanish-American often negates the reality of other countries that are part of the South American continent, such as French Guiana and Brazil. Brazil, in particular, is the largest country on the continent and is also characterized by speaking a language different from Spanish and having certain cultural characteristics that are different from those of other Latin American countries.
In area and population, Brazil is by far the largest country in Latin America. Yet its residents are the least likely to identify as Latin American in the region, according to the study “The Americas and the World, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy”, published in 2019.
While many people claim that Spanish and Portuguese can be similar, as they are languages descended from the Romance languages, it is the language that has largely separated the country from the rest of the continent.
The conquest experience of the Brazilians during the colonial era is marked by the transfer of the Portuguese crown to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, before the declaration of independence of Brazil (1822).
As Jorge Damiao explained to EFE, the fact that Brazil was conquered by the Portuguese created a big difference between it and other Spanish-dominated countries in the region, which engendered a sense of unity between them.
“It created a Brazilian identity, especially in the elites, who have always seen Europe as a model and Latin America as barbarism,” Damiao said.
One of the most relevant characteristics to differentiate Brazil from the rest of Latin America is its musical rhythms, which are generally more focused on national audiences than on international ones, due to the language barrier.
Some genres like sertanejo, forró and funky are often compared to Latin rhythms like vallenato, salsa, merengue and reggaeton. But, although Brazilian music is very Caribbean, it has not yet crossed the country’s borders to the extent that other rhythms like bachata or reggaeton have in Latin America.
Singers like Michel Teló and Anitta tried to merge their genres and languages to demonstrate that music can be a way to unite the two cultures.
“The language barrier is very big because Brazil is a Latin country but because of the language there is a very big cultural separation. I believe that the language is a means, a source, which serves to communicate with all the world and that’s why it’s the way I did to speak Spanish and rub shoulders with other artists from other countries,” Anitta mentioned in an interview with Telelam Last year.
All these musical genres also share a common characteristic, which is the use of drums, wind and string instruments, inherited from Africans who arrived in America during the period of slavery and who shared their traditions in each country. In Brazil, these rhythms evolved differently, but the root they share is the same, so the melodies may sound similar to those who listen to them in other parts of the region.
Brazilian gastronomy is influenced by European, African and indigenous cuisine, and is widely known for the use of different flours to prepare food, as well as the beans that usually accompany most typical dishes of the country.
The national dish of Brazilian gastronomy is feijoada, a black bean soup which, in the south, is usually accompanied by rice and fries, while in the northeast it is accompanied by rice and farinha (flour powder cassava). Other typical dishes are moqueca and churrasco, which are also usually accompanied by rice.
This same type of black bean used to make Brazilian feijoada is known as caraotas in Venezuela or moros y cristianos in Central America. Thanks to the African heritage that runs across the continent, many foods tend to look the same in different countries.
Traditional desserts include brigadeiros, which are small chocolate balls with condensed milk; cocada, known in other Caribbean countries; and goiabada, which is a guava-flavored candy.
The national drink is the caipirinha, made from cachaça brandy with lemon.
Thanks to its location, Brazil also grows unique fruits such as açaí and cupuaçu, in addition to mango, papaya, guava, orange and pineapple, which are also abundant in the region.