Jabuticaba, chirimóia, fruta-pão, acerola, açaí, bacuri, buriti, cajá, cajá-manga, cupuaçu, graviola, groselha, guabiroba, ingá, jaboticaba. Most of these names are very much Brazilian, and have no synonyms in English, nor in any other language.
They are, of course, the names of things grown in different parts of Brazil. Interestingly, many Brazilians are unaware of their names.
If you come to São Paulo, you can find all of them at a single place. And that place is: “Mercado Municipal de São Paulo“, or the municipal market of São Paulo. This is the epicenter of the exotic smell, taste and textures of Brazil. If you go to Sao Paulo – you have visit this place.
It is situated at the heart of the city. Here, merchants from around the country sell a range of products –– from fresh fruits to vegetables and raw meat to dry fish. From there, they fill tables of restaurants all over the town, known worldwide for their variety and high quality cuisine.
To reach this place, get on a train and travel through the subway (which is very well-kept in the city) and drop off at São Bento Station (Blue Line). Here you will see “Rua 25 de março”, one of the busiest and popular shopping streets in the town.
It is worth the ride. Street vendors there will be pleased to give you a bite as they continue to scream – always in Portuguese, of course – in an attempt to draw the attention of passersby.
Look around, the market’s building is fantastic. The construction of the neoclassic building started in 1928, and it was finally inaugurated in 1933. It is a masterpiece from one of the most recognized architects from the city of São Paulo –– Francisco de Paula Ramos de Azevedo.
It has become a tourist site ever since the historic building was remodeled in 2004. When inside the building, do not forget to look for the colorful glass windows that represent different processes of making food.
Over the past years, many restaurants have opened all around and they serve typical dishes of the city of São Paulo. Today, a visit to the market means trying a “pastel de bacalhau”, which is typical of deep-fried dough filled with shredded codfish, or a “sanduíche de mortaleda”, a bologna sandwich with cheese.
Besides the groceries you can find around, there are still great options of dried hams and nuts in the makeshift shops of the market. The place is also ideal to know different types of Brazilian spices. It’s definitely a place to spend some time, and some money, in contact with Brazilian food and culture – and to understand the relationship Brazilians have with their food.
Drink some fresh fruit juices from dozens of flavors available. It is worth the price. The fruits are fresh and the flavors are completely different from one another. One more option is to let your imagination flow and make your own combination: nobody will stop you from mixing “acerola” with “açaí”, for example.