On my way home from Buenos Aires, I decided to take one last stop in South America before heading back up North to start the summer. I made some amazing Brazilian friends during my semester abroad with GW Latin America, so I decided to visit them in their home city of Sao Paulo.
I arrived at the airport at 1AM, but the city I encountered was still bustling with life. My friends picked me up, ushered me into their car, and said, "get ready, we're going out!" I was impressed immediately by the city's enormity and vastness; everything is so big and spread apart. I was also bamboozled by the winding streets and relieved to have my Paulista friends to lead me around.
My first night in Sao Paulo was comprised of drinks and tamaki, a japanese dish much like sushi, but bigger and better. Tamaki generally includes raw fish, rice, and a topping all wrapped up in a large cone-shaped cup of seaweed--resembling a sushi snow cone. It was developed by the enormous Japanese population that immigrated here in the last century, and still thrives in the Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade. Tamaki, however, is popular all over the city, and enjoyed by all as a typical Paulista dish.
Where some cities are known for their beaches and others for their monuments or arts, Sao Paulo is known for its food. Ever since my arrival, I've done nothing but eat my way through the city.
The next morning, I met my friends parents, who took us out for a typical Paulista Sunday specialty: feijoada. Feijoada is a dish from colonial times comprised of beef and pork stewed black beans accompanied with other cuts of pork and garlic sauted greens all over rice. A former vegetarian and bean enthusiast, my mouth was watering as I dug into this delicious dish. My friend asked if I needed anything changed, reminding me of the tradition of "jeitinho brasileiro" or "the Brazilian way," which involves accomadating to a guest's needs. Of course, changes in the dish were wholly unnecessary as I couldn't imagine altering such a tasty dish.
My foodie adventures took me to a delicious pizzeria, which only serves pizza made with tomato sauce imported from Italy. There I also tried a typical Brazilian dessert known as Petit Gateau, which consists of a soft chocolate cake filled with gooey chocolate sauce or dulce de leche and accompanied by a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. I asked my friends why it carried the french name, and they had no idea. Since that night though, I've seen Petit Gateau featured on almost every restaurant menu.
Aside from food, I've had the most amazing coffee I've ever had in my life. My friend took me to her favorite coffee shop, where we spent an hour reading up on all of their featured blends before ordering. I decided to go with one of their "coffee experiments," in which I was tasked with investigating how drinking coffee with cheese or chocolate can change its taste. I took a sip of the delicious coffee they had brewed and tried a bit of chocolate before taking a second sip. To my surprise, the second sip had a completely different taste. I felt a similar sensation when I tried the experiement over with the cheese. I'm not sure that Starbucks coffee would necessarily warrant the same reaction.
Since my arrival less than a week ago, I've gone out to eat more amazing meals including delicious chinese, hamburgers, sushi, and more bowls of gelato than I can count. I didn't expect my stay in Sao Paulo to be a foodie's dream, but I'm glad I'm here!