Brazil is a fascinating country. In geographic, demographic, and, in recent years, economic terms it dominates South America; but it’s a world apart: a distinct culture, history, gastronomy, and language. In fact, it’s the only Portuguese-speaking country in all of the Americas. Most Portuguese colonies were further west: Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. This is no accident of history. When Columbus first discovered America for white people, he thought he had reached Asia, opening up a quicker, less treacherous route to the lucrative Spice Islands (at the time, certain spices such as nutmeg were more valuable than gold).