Recife is among the principal gastronomic destinations in Brazil, and in my opinion, the best one. Not just because I'm born and raised there, it's more about the complexity of the food and the parallelism among fancy and traditional places. In this article, I'll present one of the best food sites in town, the "Mercado da Encruzilhada," a public market located in the north zone of the city.
The building construction dates back in 1924 when Recife was passing through a significant transformation and modernization process. Almost one hundred years later, and together with more 23 public markets, "Mercado Encruzilhada" composes a network of public markets in the Capital. Not all of them are precisely touristic since they mainly function as a public market for people living nearby. In this way, you can find everything there, from food groceries to construction materials. And this is another attraction of this place! It's the perfect spot to get in touch with Brazilian culture and people, - out of touristic zones as the center of Recife or the Beach of Boa Viagem.
I must say that what makes this market different from the others, is the food court, which is divided between two parts, an old one, with traditional restaurants, and the new gourmet boxes, presenting new styles. So if you want to get to know more about our popular food, then keep reading!
The first dish you have to try is "Sarapatel." It is, in fact, pig meat parboiled, then diced and sauteed before being cooked in a spicy made with blood and vinegar sauce. It comes together with rice, but you should also try it with mandioca (cassava) flour. This tip also goes for the next dishes.
If you like the first one, then you should also try "Buchada de Bode." It's a dish made with goat stomach stuffed with entrails or organs like blood, intestines, liver, lungs, etc., seasoned, and then sewn up and cooked. Keep in mind that this is a dish which is basically the symbol of Pernambuco. It appears to be a bit strange, but I guarantee it is delicious.
The last one is "Bode Guisado" , which is goat meat cooked with vegetables, or "Boi Guisado," which is cow meat cooked again with vegetables. By the way, as you noticed, goat meat is very traditional in Pernambuco, but don't expect to have it in other regions of Brazil; this is a particular attribute of our state.
The food mentioned above could be a bit different, or heavy, for a European traveler, but this kind of food is very traditional in the Northeastern region (and it's delicious). In any case, if you don't like that gastronomic discovery and want to try a more regular dish, you also can find fried fish, beef, or salads.
While walking around the Market, you have to look for a bike repair store called "Reciclo Bikes." And I'll tell you why: in the afternoon it becomes an area ideal for artisanal beer lovers. No doubt it is an excellent place for hangout in the afternoon. Outside the building, the option is to enjoy bars where you can drink a beer, cachaça, or other drinks.
In the end, this market provides you with a delightful idea of the Brazilian public sphere, where friendly people manage to interact and get to know each other. Around lunchtime, you are probably going to see a guy passing from the tables selling old vinyl records for a very reasonable price- or another guy selling "cocada," a kind of coconut candy, traditional in Pernambuco. Along with them, you will see other folklorist personalities, who are part of the "magic of the place." All these together make this place priceless and worth a visit.
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