Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Brazilian delicacies in North London
Every culture has some sort of culinary symbol with which everyone instantly associates. Say pretzel and you think of New Yorkers, see a baguette and you think of a Frenchman (true, not just a stereotype). In Brazil, the equivalent “snack” (because the national dish would be feijoada) is the pão de queijo – the cheese bread. Walk into any corner shop, petrol station or – less-surprising – bakery in Brazil, and you will find a small, round, bun-like bread filled with stretchy cheese. Sometimes it’s warm, sometimes it’s not. Brazilians eat it for breakfast or as a snack, anytime of day. And it’s very, very nice. So nice, that even Budgens managed to get hold of some. There’s a branch of Budgens near where I live in Belsize Park in London called Thornton’s Budgens. It’s a bit like a posh version of a normal Budgens – it stocks food sourced from specialist and local suppliers, and has a dedicated international section. Among its offer is make-at-home pão de queijo, much like they sell in Brazilian supermarkets. It’s a powder mixture to which you add milk, roll into balls and put in the oven. The supplier is Romulo Lívio de Medeiros, who runs Minas Industries and supplies stores across London and Surrey. And pão de queijo is a big success at Budgens. “We've stocked the product for about two years,” Thornton’s Budgens’ Andrew Thornton tells me. “We were initially approached by Minas, then we did a number of tastings and built a fan club for the product; once you've tasted it, there is no way back.” It’s not just pão de queijo that fills Budgens’ shelves in Belsize Park. I was there recently and found all sorts of things, from tinned feijoada to guaraná (a sweet, fizzy drink). They are sourced from Portugal, not Brazil, but good to know they’re there to fill a nostalgic hole.