I am completely obsessed with going to a fair, probably for the reason that every single one in São Paulo has food. They aren’t Costco sample size either, they are the supersized and filled with love. Since I’ve been studying abroad, I have become a little bit of a foodie. For the most part, there are three types of fairs: antiquities fair, farmer’s market, and a gastronomic fair. There could be others, but I have yet to discover them. I am lucky enough to live walking distances from the area that has most of the fairs. As soon as Saturday morning hits, I get dressed, skip breakfast, put on my walking shoes, and get ready for a day of eating and looking at beautiful antiquities.
The antiquities fair at Praça Benedito Calixto, near my house, has the feel of The Antiquities Roadshow, mixed with a feel of a tag sale because they sell clothes and hand made jewelry. However, the fair under the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art is not far off of what you would see in a hipster neighborhood in the US. At one fair, I bought this really awesome maxi skirt and I’ll probably buy some of the handmade items to give as gifts before I go back to the states. The problem is, this is by far the most expensive “tag sale” you will ever go to. Most of the items cost way more than they would in a store, and I am not exactly sure why. However, it really doesn’t matter because I spend most of my money on the food. During at the Praça, there are vendors that sell foods from all over Brazil and even Portugal as well. My favorite food from this fair is the pastel. It is similar to a beef patty, but it has all different fillings like chicken, or pizza. It is only a custom at every fair in São Paulo to sell pasteis, pastels, but in other cities in the country, there are other customary foods.
The farmer’s market that they call a fair here basically shuts down the street in front of the metro station near my house. That is a pretty big deal because the street in front of the metro has a lot of traffic, but fresh food is clearly a priority here and I don’t blame them. While it does have food, it is again more expensive than buying food in the grocery store. I paid R$40 for white nectarines, which I didn’t really care for, but only R$9 for the same amount of yellow nectarines in a grocery store. Then again, São Paulo is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world, so that might be a reason. Nonetheless, it still has some pretty awesome food and drinks, like caldo de cana, which is sugarcane juice. They add the sugarcane juice with other fruits, (I tried mine with grapes) and it has the consistency of a milkshake. Sugarcane is an important part of the Brazilian culture and you can see it included in other national drinks like cachaça. I’ve been told that the sugarcane juice tastes better when it is with lime or pineapple, so I’ll try it this Saturday. It is very refreshing for these warm Brazilian spring days.
Every week I look forward to Sundays because I know that the gastronomic fair is coming to town. Restaurants from around the city come together to prepare sample foods, but not sample sizes. I saw a turkey leg that would rival something a Viking would eat. Again, there was much diversity in the foods, so I splurged a little. I couldn’t eat too much because my host mom was throwing a party for my host sister’s boyfriend and there was a lot of food there. The most interesting thing I tried was these French-fries called, batatas bravas, which were covered in hot sauce and mayonnaise. I usually just put ketchup on my fries, but the mayo was a pleasant surprise. I also had this amazing white chocolate gelato that woofed down in six minutes. I realized, in Portuguese, there is no difference between ice cream and gelato, they are both called sorvete.
The funny thing is, I have only scratched the surface of the different fairs in São Paulo. There are more fairs in different neighborhoods throughout the city that have different ethnic influences. However, I think the International Film Festival in São Paulo will be my next big cultural event. I can finally try the popcorn street vendors that sell different flavors of popcorn.