Saturday, January 8, 2011

Farmer Markets, a Brazilian tradition (Feiras) and Avocado Shake Recipe

These days many in the US are turning more and more toward buying fresh food from local farmers and neighborhood street markets. Brazilians have been doing this forever. Street markets, “feiras” as Brazilians call them, have always been where we shopped for much of our home goods. Sure, retail chain supermarkets are increasingly gaining in popularity for the same reasons of convenience they've always been a hit in the US, but feiras are still are the preferred source of fresh produce for the majority of Brazilian homes.

All over Brazil, every neighborhood has a weekly street market that sells fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish, spices, and other things such as dairy products and flowers. As a child, I really enjoyed these visits to the feira with my mother because I couldn't wait to visit the lady that sold handmade clothes for my Barbie dolls.

Another good reason for visiting neighborhood markets in Brazil is to eat pastel, a thin, fried, crisp, spring-roll-like wrap filled with a variety of choices such as cheese, hearts of palm, and ground beef. And, a trip to the feira is not complete without sampling some garapa, a drink made of sugarcane juice. You will usually find different stands selling such things as they are very popular among Brazilians. As a student, my friends and I would regularly rush off to a feira just to get this kind of snack.

Neighborhood street markets are very lively with sellers trying to get the attention of buyers for their products. They advertise their fares by yelling as loud as possible and by offering generous samples of their fruits. All the while buyers try to bargain for best prices and shift through the market juggling shopping bags overflowing with great finds.

So, if you ever happen upon Brazil make sure to ask when the weekly feira is and stop by to sample pastel, drink garapa, and try some exotic fruits.  I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy this slice of Brazilian culture.

The pictures in this post are from the feira that takes place every Thursday at Rua Barão de Capanema in the region of Jardins in São Paulo.
I had mentioned before that avocado in Brazil is eaten as a dessert. A popular use of the fruit are shakes with milk, condensed milk or ice cream.

Brazilian Avocado Shake
1 large Fuerte Avocado
½ can of condensed milk
2 cups of milk, more or less depending whether you want to drink it or eat with a spoon
Blend all ingredients and serve cold.

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