From fruits to flowers… a little bit of everything!
Street markets – or “feiras” in Portuguese – are a big tradition in Sao Paulo.  Each neighborhood has its own weekly market, with the same vendors arriving early in the morning to set up their shops, with their voices getting louder and prices getting smaller as the hours pass.  Usually it’s over by 1 or 2 pm.  Near my Mom’s house the street market happens on Wednesdays, and she recalls that  when she moved from Rio to Sao Paulo back in 1953, the feira was only a few years old, and only had a handful of stands. Last Wednesday our stroll through the market left us both amazed by the variety of vendors and the quality of their produce.  Keep in mind that this trip took place during the dead of the Brazilian winter, which means the thermometers might drop to about 60F.  These temps drive paulistas to heavy scarves and jackets, and then they still walk around shivering and chattering their teeth…  We couldn’t believe our eyes when we were jogging in the park early that morning, and saw a few dogs wearing jackets to protect them from the cold (a bone-chilling 61F. ;-))

But, back to the important stuff.  Each market, no matter the location, has two mandatory stands by the main entrance:  one selling freshly made pasteis (for a flashback click here) and right next to it, one selling “garapa,”  a refreshing,  sweet drink made from pressed sugar cane.  The vendor has a machine that literally presses the sweet juice from the sugar cane.  It’s incredibly delicious! When I was a child, garapa was just that, pure cane juice, served over ice. Nowadays, one finds many variations, with fresh pineapple juice, lime or lemon juice, sometimes mint leaves.  Each glass is made to order, and in the Summer the trucks selling garapa are surrounded by bees, going  crazy by the scent of sugar, often trying to land on your glass to steal a taste.  Here you see a garapa truck waiting for customers…

Pasteis also changed substantially from my youth, from two kinds (meat or cheese), to the many  variations found today: three cheeses, hearts of palm, chicken, spicy sausage, shrimp, pizza, portuguesa (spicy sausage, hard-boiled egg and cheese) …  the imagination is the limit.  They even sell tiny pasteis with nothing inside, called quite appropriately “pasteis de vento”, or “wind-filled pasteis.”   They are often served as appetizers at cocktail parties,  and each is gone in one or two small bites, leaving crumbs all over your lips.  They are messy to eat, but oohh so very tasty!  You can see pasteis de vento in the photo below, they are inside big plastic bags, each holding a few dozen of these delicacies.

and here you see the real pasteis, fried as the customer waits, with the filling of his/her choice…

Then, the fun begins!  Take a look at the fruits and veggies, all available at this time of the year in my hometown (each photo can be enlarged by clicking on it).

Butchers are ready to prepare special cuts for you, or do jobs like cleaning livers – slivered liver sauteed with onions is a popular dish in Brazil, by the way. My Mom used to make it every Wednesday for my Dad to profit from the extra fresh liver always available at the street market.

If you want to see more, please take a look at the slideshow I set up at Picasa by clicking here.  And if the photos got you wondering about cara’-moela,  thanks to the help of my dear sister Norma you can learn about it here.

All I can say is that it was hard to be just an observer at the street market, as I had no opportunity to cook during our stay in Brazil.  We were very spoiled guests for the whole 10 days: many wonderful home cooked meals with family and friends, home-made pizzas cooked in a wood-oven, desserts galore!

But the best of course, was spending time with my Mom, who even made pot roast for us, something she had not cooked in more than 5 years.  Didn’t I say we were spoiled guests?  😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  Groceries

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Souffle to Remember…. Julia Child

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  1. What a beautiful post! Look at those veggies stacked up and lining the tables! It would be so hard not to cook while there, but also fun not to have to.😉 I just love these pictures and I’m definitely going to have to try out a pastie soon. And how wonderful to get to see your mom and spend time with her. I LOVE that picture!🙂 It looks like a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing part your trip. Off to check out your picasa now.🙂


    • Thank you, Kristy – it was a fun post to write, and I wish I had been able to post it while we were there, but better late than never, right? My Mom turns 88 next month, in just a couple of weeks, too bad we could not stay there to celebrate with her.


    • I made fun of my fellow Brazilians, but believe me, I am not that different – my tolerance for cold increased with 18 years abroad, but I still complain and suffer and chatter my teeth at 55 F


    • Ten days go by quickly, that’s for sure… Not easy to say goodbye, but I’ve done this sooooo many times, I’m a bit more at peace with the situation. A price one pays for emigrating 😉

      Glad you enjoyed the post, I thought maybe you would enjoy a little glimpse of life on another tropical paradise quite distant from yours, but maybe with similar characteristics on several levels.


  2. Beautiful pictures and beautiful post, Sally. The picture of you and your mom is one to treasure. I only wish I could have some of her wonderful pot roast.


  3. Gorgeous post Sally. I enjoyed all the visuals – nothing like street markets, in any country – the produce is really spectacular – a feast of colour and delight. But… for me, this post is all about the photo of you and your mom; even without knowing either of you, I can feel so much emotion coming off the page, it tingles all over…


    • De fato, a medida que os anos passam a gente se parece mais e mais. Dizem que a idade media em que uma mulher se olha no espelho pela primeira vez e ve a imagem da mae e’ por volta de 42 anos – creio que comigo demorou so’ um pouquinho mais, mas chegou 😉


  4. If you ever have a contest for favorite posts by your readers, can I vote for this one in advance? 😉

    loved every word and image, and your Mom and you look a lot alike, especially the hair, she has gorgeous hair at 88, and you will also have beautiful hair, as you don’t dye it like most women (me included, silly me, now cannot stop doing it)


    • Sonya, what a lovely comment! Well, I am thrilled that you liked this post so much, I loved to write it.

      as to dying your hair, I used to add temporary dye to mine to highlight the gray with some golden tones, but even though they say it comes out with several washings, it never completely did, so growing it out was a bit of a nightmare. Never again, I now truly enjoy the gray and intend to keep it this way


  5. Sally
    What great photos. The foods look fabulous!!!
    How great it would be to shop there… such beauty.
    First, I’d buy nuts, mangoes, carrots, and greens. Then savor the other
    wares next.
    Thanks for the awesome experience. Now I’m going to share this with my
    friends, who haven’t been to Brazil yet.



    • Thanks, Nadine – hope your friends enjoy the post too.

      it wasn’t a sunny day, I wasn’t sure the photos would turn out ok, but I guess they worked fine to give a general idea.
      I had hoped the garapa truck would have customers, but it was a bit too early and cold for that type of drink. It would have been fun to show photos of the garapa being made.


    • I wish we had taken more photos of Sao Paulo, but we never went out to do anything “touristic” – in the end, Sao Paulo is my hometown, and ends up as a place to see family and friends. Tourism is never on the menu. It is an interesting city, a bit scary if you’ve never been there, but knowing where to go and what to do, it is an amazing spot.


  6. I loved this one so much I rushed away and had to have a cold drink to calm down. What gorgeous photos! And I love seeing you and your Mum together, big beaming smiles😀


  7. Beautiful photos. Those are some big eggs! Your mother does not look 88. Like mother, like daughter. You do not look any older than 39!


  8. Well i definitely want to go there, that market is terrific.. you must just wander making fabulous dishes in your head all day long.. it is funny how we don’t think of taking pictures of our home.. thank you tho c


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