I had never ever even heard of farofa prior to moving to Brazil. And I remember my first introduction: a week after we had moved here we were invited to a churrasco (bbq). There was a table of food to snack on, including things like olives, nuts, cookies, grape tomatoes, chips, candy for the kids, and this bowl of sand.
Then I saw the hostess take spoonful of it, put it in her palm and pop it in her mouth. Later I asked about it, and they tried to explain it to me, but it made no sense. It's toasted manioc (aka cassava or yuca) flour fried in butter. It can be served plain, but is most often combined with little pieces of meat, onion, hard boiled egg, vegetables or even fruit (banana or raisins). It can be eaten by itself, or with beans and rice, or to go with meat. Most often it's served with churrasco--you dip your meat in the farofa to make a kind of coating. I decided to try it like a Brazilian, and spooned it onto my plate and ate it plain with a fork. I found it dry and pretty tasteless. I must admit I just didn't understand.
I tried farofa again on several different occasions, at restaurants, buffets, other parties, with espetinhos (kebabs). I still didn't really understand what it was all about. Our wonderful empregada Irene said something last month about how we never ate farofa. I asked her if she ate it lots, and she confessed that she ate it every day, sometimes she even just ate the flour straight from the bag. I finally remembered to pick up a bag at the supermarket 2 weeks ago, and asked her to make some. Irene is a good cook, not GREAT, but good.
But I can't get her farofa out of my mind.
I'd never had warm farofa before, and there is something about it being fresh and nice and toasty that makes all the difference for me. Even Beatrice is eating it now. So next time you are in the neighborhood, come on over and we'll eat farofa together. That is, if I leave any for you.