We have expanded these pages to include Brazilian public markets, because they're pretty amazing. Our favorite is the Mercado Municipal in São Paulo (seen here): clean and organized, it offers everything your heart and appetite may desire, all under one gorgeous roof!! It should definitely be included in your tour of the city; go in the morning (Wednesday is a good day, not too crowded), walk around, sample a few things, admire the stained-glass windows and don't forget to eat a pastel de bacalhau upstairs!
Brazilians routinely eat some veggies that may be unfamiliar to you: chuchus (green, pear-shaped, see below), maxixe, jiló, fresh hearts of palm (ask for instructions on how to cook them), couve or collard greens (below at left, already chopped for you) and mandioca (last two photos below at right), also called aipim in many places and macaxeira in the Northeast. Be adventurous, ask for some recipes (or print the ones in our website) and don't miss out on some of the yummiest foods in the world!
Brazilian pumpkins (called abóboras in Portuguese) are wonderful. My favorite is this green one pictured here, called "Japanese pumpkin." They're sold au naturel or already chopped up and packaged (second photo from the left below). They're used as a side dish and also to make a superb dessert called "doce de abóbora." There is a large variety of potatoes in Brazil; sweet potatoes (third photo from left below) are a light green color and are also used to make an incredibly yummy dessert called "doce de batata doce."
Spices and Condiments
From the ones you're familiar with (bay leaves and such) to ones you've never seen before (like urucum, the food color from the Amazon, pictured below), it's a lot of fun to shop for spices, peppers (a few are displayed in plastic bowls below), etc., at these markets. Try the extremely hot Brazilian peppers called malagueta and pimenta-de-cheiro from the Amazon.
Cookies and Crackers
Depending on where you are you'll see giant bags of cookies that are sold by kilo or grams. For packaged ones, try your supermarket or bakery. I love what Brazilians call "biscoito de polvilho." Savory or sweet, they're light and airy and melt in you mouth.
Chickens, Eggs, and Fish
It may surprise you, but these are also sold at street markets, out of refrigerated trucks (eggs are not usually refrigerated in Brazil). Salt cod (seen here at the market in São Paulo), used in casseroles and the ever-so-popular bolinhos de bacalhau, is sold prepackaged or you tell them how much you want and they'll cut and weigh that for you. You can also find all types of salt shrimp, used in Bahian and Oriental dishes.
Meats and Sausages
The market in São Paulo is also the perfect place to find salted, cured, or sun-dried beef, salt pork, and all manners of sausages for your feijoada, cozido, and so on.
Cheeses and Olives
These days in Brazil you can find a huge variety of cheeses, olives, and pickled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, and so on. Some are imported, but most are made or grown in the country.
Gorgeous and inexpensive, especially if compared to U.S. prices. Also sold at street corners in Rio and other cities. Not so common in northeastern Brazil. People always take large bouquets home and have them all over the house.
You name it, they have it for sale...every single whatchamacallit on Earth for kitchen, bath, repairs, cleaning, and so on. Actually, rummaging through these stalls is a great pastime of mine. I must confess I can't resist them. Just look at these loofahs and you'll understand why!
To Market,To Market