previous post about guerrilla dining in São Paulo, I discussed the multicultural qualities of Brazil's largest city. São Paulo is home to the world's largest Japanese population outside Japan itself, and the city has large and vibrant Italian, Portuguese, Lebanese, Syrian, Yugoslavian and Spanish communities. Since the last years of the 19th Century, Brazil has welcomed more than 6 million immigrants, and with succeeding generations these ethnic groups have grown and flourish, no where more so than in São Paulo. During the peak years of immigration, from just after the abolition of slavery in 1886 until the beginning of the First World War, most immigrants to São Paulo state came to work on coffee plantations, which had lost their previous source of labor with the end of slavery. Other immigrants came to work in textile factories, other industrial plants and in shops and restaurants.
Just as in the USA or Canada, most of this immigrant population has now been thoroughly assimilated. But also just as in North America, traditions that came to Brazil with immigrants more than a century ago are still alive - particularly culinary traditions. In São Paulo you can find sushi, pita bread, pizza, paella and all other sorts of immigrant dishes (this is also true of most large cities in Brazil, but particularly true of São Paulo).
RECIPE - Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
(For the meatballs)
4 slices good-quality white bread
1/2 cup whole milk
2 lbs. (1 kg.) lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups neutral vegetable oil (for frying)
(For the sauce)
3 Tbsp. butter
12 med. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
salt to taste
1 cup water
Make the meatballs: Shred the slices of bread and soak them in the milk for 10 minutes. Mix together in large bowl the meat, the onion and garlic, salt and pepper, the soaked bread and the eggs. Continue mixing with your hands until a consistent mixture has formed. Using your hands, make uniform-sized meatballs of approximately 1 inch (2 cm.) diameter. Put the flour in a large paper or plastic bag, and dust the meatballs, a few at a time, in the flour. Reserve the meatballs.
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy saucepan..Fry the meatballs in small batches until well-browned. Remove meatballs from pan, and drain them on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic, and parsley and season to taste. Add the water, cover the pan, and continue cooking over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomato has softened into a thick sauce. If necessary, add a small additional quantity of water.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with white rice or pasta.
Translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora