I love food. It’s probably my favorite part of traveling. I also love saving money. That’s why on a recent trip to São Paulo, Brazil, where I was staying on the expensive Avenida Paulista, I was excited to learn about the Mercado Municipal.
Located on Cantareira Street, off the San Bento subway stop on the blue line, is a massive market selling various kinds of fruits, meats, cheeses, cakes, nuts, candies, oils, wines and more. It’s a very cultural experience, as locals rely on the market to get specialty items and when they have a lot to buy. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to high-quality, local foods in Brazil. In fact, the food sold at Mercado Municipal is so good, most of the restaurants in the city purchase their ingredients from there.
The best part is the people selling the foods, especially the fruits, stand with cutting knives and napkins ready to give you samples. I got to try various fruits I had never seen or heard of before, and even some I had, just to see if they tasted different. I’m not sure if I was just excited to be in a new city, but strawberries definitely seem sweeter and juicier in Brazil.
Even when the stands didn’t appear to be giving away samples, if you ask to try something, it’s usually not a problem. Even though I don’t speak Portuguese, looking hungry with a longing stare got me a sampler of nuts that filled me for hours.
Still want to continue your journey of São Paulo’s unique flavors? Take the subway to the Ana Rosa stop on the green line. On the corner of Rua Joaquim and Rua Aurea is an off-the-radar popsicle shop called Frutos do Cerrado. While tiny in size, the shop sells ice pops, gelato and sorbets of more fruit flavors than I’ve ever seen in my life. Along with typical varieties like mango, banana and grape, there was buriti, amora, jatoba and tamarindo, to name a few. They even have a flavor for the caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink.