When I set out to write this book, I wanted to bring the cuisines of Rio to the same popular level as our other assets: the beach, music, samba, Carnival and football. This meant getting to the heart of Rio’s most talented people and discovering the most delicious recipes. I met some incredible chefs like Kátia Barbosa from Aconchego Carioca, Portuguese cooks like Manuela Arraes, home cooks like Ivani de Souza Ferreira and many more, all of whom you’ll find here in this book. I was amazed by their knowledge, their simple approach to cooking and the wonder of their recipes. I am fascinated by Brazilian culture: we are a mixture of African, Portuguese and native Indian influences – and we are proud of our origins. This mixture can be seen in the music we hear, in the foods that we eat and in the faces of our people. In different parts of the country, however, you will find one dominant influence over the others. And in Rio, my friend, it tastes like Portugal. The cooking of Rio is dominated by the lusitanic flavours of salt cod, onions, garlic, bay leaves and egg yolk pastries – flavours that are bright and alive in the pages of this book. I go back home at least twice a year with my kids, and we spend a good chunk of time in Rio (though never enough), especially during the summer. I explore my hometown with the eyes of a hungry carioca woman who misses home. I take my kids all over Rio, and we go on frequent trips to the outskirts of Rio, like Búzios, Paraty, Teresópolis and Petrópolis – neighbourhoods included in this book. As I explored the city with a new perspective, I came to discover a Rio completely different from the one I left. When I left for America, the food culture in Rio was nothing compared to the magnitude of today’s trends. At that time, Confeitaria Colombo at Centro was one of the biggest bakeries in Rio. And their ham and cheese folheado (page 120) remain my favourite! Today, however, you’ll find modern bakeries specialising in different treats like cupcakes, macarons and chocolates. The only English you’d hear in the ’90s was from tourists, while today there are people from all over the world living and working in Rio. Brazil is changing, and Rio is changing with it. Over the past decade, my hometown has boomed, restoring itself to the global stage as a portal for two huge world events: the World Cup in Spring 2014 and the Olympics two years later. Not coincidently, dining in Rio gets better all the time. Many new restaurants are opening, and Rio is becoming quite a culinary contender. Rio doesn’t aspire to be fancy, but we do aspire to eat delicious, amazing food that is as casual as our city, and that is the kind of food you’ll find in this book: simple and delicious. Choosing the recipes was the hardest part. What you see here is only a highlight of Rio’s best, but if you visit me in my Rio or Connecticut, USA kitchen, these are the recipes I would prepare for dinner. Rio is my foundation; it defines me as a person. I think of all the foods I ate at home growing up like Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo (page 189) or my aunt’s Moroccan Meatballs (page 182), and the memories of my home in Rio come alive. That’s why I’ve also included a chapter on home cooking. These recipes are not only part of my memories, they are part of cariocas’ daily lives.