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Eating in São Paulo
by Ronald Cavaliere

Being mainly industrial and nowadays Brazil's first city and economic leader, São Paulo was coloured in the early stages of its development by the immigration of a wide variety of different ethnic races. There is striking evidence of this multi-culturalism in the city with its lively and contemporary excitement. The various districts where a specific culture predominates offer us the opportunity to live side by side with the most varied habits and customs. But it is in gastronomy, for the delight and feasting of those who seek it out, that the city holds its great fascination.

The street markets become a carnival with their abundance of colourful produce and mysterious aromas. They are a clear indication of the important role played by the people of São Paulo in gastronomic culture. The various districts of the city offer the most varied and typical restaurants; the cuisine represented there ranges from the most traditional to the most exotic, from the most sophisticated to the most simple; dishes from the Mediterranean, Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, the Americas and from all over Brazil and food of all kinds - standard, vegetarian, fish and also seafood.

São Paulo represents the largest concentration of Japanese people outside Japan, resulting in an enormous choice of places to eat different types of Japanese food (there are more than one hundred restaurants). Proximity to the coast, the quantity and quality of fish and seafood on which Japanese cuisine is based, are the ingredients of its acknowledged excellence. The grill restaurants with their barbecued meat, varieties of salad and typical accompaniments offer a unique opportunity to try the different cuts of meat. An experience not to be missed.

Lastly, one of the most interesting and enjoyable gastronomic phenomena: pizza. It has been said even by Italians from Naples and Americans from Chicago - the pizza's hallowed centres of excellence - that São Paulo produces the most varied and delicious pizzas in the world. On Sunday evenings, the people of São Paulo meet to share the magic of this doughy disc and its various toppings. The city's pizzerias, with their relaxed and unusual atmosphere, their wood-burning ovens and the cooks juggling the pizza bases, are a show on their own. The eager and animated conversation about football and the aroma of the various seasonings used are a sign of the importance attached to this civilized and enjoyable custom of sitting around a table in São Paulo.

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