We have expanded these pages to include Brazilian public markets, because they're pretty amazing. Our favorite is the Mercado Municipal in São Paulo (seen here): clean and organized, it offers everything your heart and appetite may desire, all under one gorgeous roof!! It should definitely be included in your tour of the city; go in the morning (Wednesday is a good day, not too crowded), walk around, sample a few things, admire the stained-glass windows and don't forget to eat a pastel de bacalhau upstairs!
Brazil is the country in the world with the most fruits (check this out by reading the book Fruit in Brazil). Need I say more? The choices are unbelievable, so go ahead and splurge! For instance: seen here is an "easy-to-eat" variety of pineapple developed in Brazil...Even fruits that are not native to Brazil and have been introduced to the country recently, such as kiwi and lychee, grow in great abundance and have become huge favorites. In some areas, mangosteen and noni fruit (see photos below) are being slowly introduced. Noni fruit tea is made in the state of Pará in the Amazon.
If you go to Rio, the place to buy fruits and vegetables is your neighborhood's street market or "feira." (Other cities have street markets too. I love the ones in São Paulo, for instance.) There are some markets that are sort of permanent "feiras" also (like the one where I took some of these photographs). Check with your friends and neighbors.) My Brazilian friends always wash fruits and vegetables well. Markets in the Amazon will have completely different stuff, except for the usual oranges, mangoes and so on. There and also in northeastern Brazil the selection of tomatoes and lettuce, for instance, will be limited, but all manners of more exotic veggies are available.
Feiras happen once a week, always on the same location. You don't need to get there really early, though. My friends usually go after 11 a.m., when prices start to go down and you still get a great selection. Many Brazilian men love to go to these markets, by the way. Men and women will shop with large straw bags or little carts. The most unusual feira I've been to takes place every Saturday in the Laranjeiras neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro: there you can enjoy great music by a group called "Chorinho na Feira" and their guests, as you can see on these photos.
Brazilian bananas are sweet and taste fantastic, because they are not harvested green to travel around the world. There are many different varieties and I'm still trying to learn all the different names. Brazilians like to eat them as a snack, fried for dessert, or as a garnish for meals (this especially in the Northeast). And there's banana paste and banana candy and banana desserts galore...Actually, this is done with a lot of fruits; there's guava paste and candy, quince paste, etc.
Oranges, Tangerines, and Limes - There are many varieties of oranges in Brazil, including "lima-da-Pérsia," pictured below at left (they're a kind of bittersweet orange) and laranja-lima, also called laranja-do-céu or "heaven's orange" in Rio Grande do Sul, an apt and well-deserved name, considering how sweet and tasty they are. Tangerines (I photographed two different varieties below) are very, very sweet, you got to try them to believe it after the tart ones we have in the U.S. Limes are called "limão galego" and lemons "limão Tahiti." The most delicious of them all is the variety called "limão siciliano."
Tropical fruits - You should also try more exotic fruits like jabuticabas (the little black fruit above), pitanga (the red fruit above), cashews (last photo on the right above), fruta do conde (pictured below at left), jackfruit (second photo below), graviola (fourth photo below), carambolas (center photo below), acerola, passionfruit, sapoti (the brownish one below), and guavas (photo at right below). Cashews and acerola are great for fresh juices and ice creams, they're way too tart to eat. More on Brazilian exotic fruits on Sherbets and Fruit Juices.
Brazilian pineapples are called "abacaxi." They are white inside and several degrees sweeter than anything that comes out of Hawai. I suspect it's a different variety entirely.
Brazil is one of the largest producers of apples in the world, the Fuji and Gala varieties being the best ones, in our opinion.
There are a couple of different papayas (pictured below): a very large one, the so-called mamão formosa, which is delicious, but not as much as the little ones, which are called mamão-papaya or just papaya. These are used in a fabulous Brazilian dessert called "creme de papaya." Yes, we have the recipe!
Avocados are huge and used for desserts and milk drinks called "vitaminas" and NOT (well, in foreign recipes, yes) for salads.
Mangoes come in several delicious varieties, from little green ones, known as "Carlotinhas" to enormous red ones. And if you're a big fan of fresh figs like I am, you're in for a treat (just check this box of fresh figs we bought for $2.50 dollars) in Brazil! Brazilians also love candied figs and fig marmalade (my favorite, favorite!).
Persimmons, called "caqui" in Portuguese, came from Japan originally and have become as Brazilian as any native fruit, I swear!! There are many different varieties; I photographed a few in São Paulo (see below). (Since everything grows in Brazil, after a while people tend to think of these foods as native.) Also very popular (and grown locally) are lychee (called lichia in Portuguese) and kiwi. You should also try amora, a large blackberry-looking fruit that grows on a small tree and pitanga, a small, reddish, tart, and tasty fruit. Just about the only fruit I haven't seen in Brazil are cranberries, but I wouldn't be surprised if they started growing those, too! Blueberries are called mirtilo and are grown in the South. They are rather expensive still, though.
Coconuts are sold green, ready to drink, or grated on the spot. There are stands that sell coconut water and sugar cane juice also. Fantastic! This page continues on At the Feira or Street Market 2. There we talk a bit about vegetables and other stuff.
And last but not least: graviolas are rich in carbos and contain good amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamins B and C. Passionfruit juice is very calming and sedative, rich in vitamin C and niacin; good amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and fiber. Mangoes are a super source of betacarotene, plus vitamin C, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Umbu and açaí are wonderful to boost your energy; the latter is rich in fibers and contains 13% of protein, more than milk. Pitangas are great for antioxidants and vitamin C and are good for your digestion (papayas also are fantastic for your digestive system, of course!). Cupuaçu is rich in iron, proteins, and vitamin B; coconut has a ton of potassium and is very good for your heart. Cashews, besides being packed with vitamin C, are a good source of all sorts of minerals and betacarotene; guavas have high amounts of vitamin C and are your big ally against infections and fatigue. Fruta-do-conde has a lot of vitamin C and potassium.
Here's to tropical fruits!!!
To Market, To Market