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sao paolo-taking sfiha out of oven copy

There are between 7 and 10 million Lebanese and Syrians in Brazil. And about 4 million of them are in Sao Paolo alone. As a result, Lebanese food is very familiar to Brazilians and specialities like sfiha (a term that covers both manaqish and fatayer) and kibbe have become part of the national culinary repertoire. And of course there are Lebanese restaurants galore. Some are good and some not so. I have now tried three and each is good in its own way even if they serve a different cuisine from the one I was brought up with. I guess it is because they have been in Brazil for several generations; and despite having preserved their culinary repertoire, serving unusual dishes like shish barak which is not normally found on restaurant menus, they have adapted and changed them slightly. A few days ago, I was taken by adorable Luiz Henrique Ligabue to Casa Garabed which loved, particularly the fact that it is in the garage and one bedroom of the owner’s home giving the restaurant a rather unusual feel: part bistrot and part home dining.

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sao paolo-bar in the favela copy

I think it was after I watched City of God that I decided I had to visit a favela. Except that it is not quite what you do as a lone female traveler. Nor even as a lone male traveler. As luck would have it, I was again invited this year by lovely Luiz Camargo to attend Paladar Cozinha do Brazil. Luiz had invited me to this wonderful event back in 2009 and I wrote about it. However, back then there was no visit to a favela on the schedule. This year though there was and we went with the inspirational David Hertz of Gastromotiva who trains young disadvantaged people to acquire culinary skills to a favela in Paraisópolis to meet some of his trainees, hear their stories, watch them cook and eat their food and of course to visit the place where some of them live and work. This particular favela is not as rough as others but it is still an extraordinary world where wonderful characters hang about in tiny bars, just sitting as if they were waiting for Godot, or play snooker or cards with loud music booming from cars, homes or shops that no one seems to pay attention to! Quite an amazing day with wonderful people and delicious homely Brazilian food!

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It’s not that I like gruesome foods that much. The ants I ate recently in Brazil were quite repulsive. The camel kebabs were OK although I am not rushing back to the camel butcher any time soon. As for  the worms I had in South Africa, they were pretty boring. However, nothing I have seen is a patch  on the penises I spotted for sale at a bovine butcher in Sao Paulo’s central market.


The butcher said he sold them to Chinese people to cook in soup for medicinal purposes. He did say what the purpose was but I am going senile (sadly not prematurely any longer) and I forgot what the purpose was, but it wasn’t aphrodisiac. Anyone who knows, please write and tell me.  There was nowhere I could go in the market to taste them but for anyone wanting to eat edible penises, here is where to go.