I have been taking bananas for granted. Winter or summer, we seem to have an endless supply of lovely yellow bananas in Ottawa. It’s one of my favourite snacks—cheap, easy to eat on-the-go and tasty. Feng and Mark love bananas too. At home, in doubt, we have a banana.
Brazilian bananas were not exactly how I was expected them to be considering the tropical surroundings. I was picturing über-bananas, not small, misshapen black-spotted fruits. Ah. These would definitely be rejected by supermarkets up North purely aesthetic considerations. They still taste fine, though, they are… okay. Not great. Just fine.
The rest of fruits and veggies are amazing though. Everything smells and tastes fresh, from exotic fruits to common vegetables.
I wanted to learn more about Brazilians—what people eat, what they do, how they work and interact. A bit wiser and more comfortable with our surrounding, we headed back to Recife to explore the different bairros in the centre. There is a large open-air market in São José where I wandered around the stalls. Raw meat and fish don’t bother me, I like to know where my food come from.
I was also curious about local delicacies and the streets of Recife introduced me to Brazilian street food. Like in Northern China, corn is sold by vendors with a cart. It is boiled, grilled or served in a kind of porridge, an ear is about $0.75. Tapioca pancakes are also popular: the tapioca is lightly grilled and it is served with all kinds of fillings, like coconut, cheese, butter, condensed milk, chicken, etc. There are all kinds of stuffed breads (typical fillings are chicken, ham and cheese or beef), a bit like empanadas in Argentina and Chile, as well as hot dogs and burgers. Brazilians also like sweet stuff and there are amazing cakes sold by the slice as well as churros. For drinks, coconuts, fruit juices and sodas are everywhere.
Recife is home to dozens of churches, a few very modern and many very old, so old that they are closed or that half of them is gone. There are busy though, every time we step inside (Saint Mark insists to do so) there is some praying and singing going on. God is popular in this part of the world.
Food and faith, eat and pray… this is what people in Recife were doing that day!