Monday, March 1, 2010

Guerrilla Dining Comes to Brazil - São Paulo's Patuá

As Brazil becomes more connected to global culture, and foreign influences are increasingly imported into Brazil, the gateway for importation of these influences is more often than not São Paulo. This enormous, sprawling metropolis that is home to more than 20 million people has always been the most multi-cultural of Brazil's cities, and the most influenced by immigrant cultures. In today's sophisticated and worldly São Paulo, trends from other world style, fashion and culture metropolises show up very quickly.

In the past few years, in the USA, Canada, UK, and Continental Europe, a new type of restaurant has developed, usually called "underground" or "guerrilla." In a private home or other private space, such restaurants avoid many of the bureaucratic hassles of a street-front restaurant, and being unpublicized in traditional media, they can better control the quantity and quality of their patrons. Besides, being "clandestine" adds to the cachet.

It was probably inevitable that this trend would reach São Paulo, and according to an article in today's Folha de S. Paulo, it has. Interestingly, the restaurant discussed in the article is not avant-garde, or modish; rather it is a traditional Bahian restaurant, serving traditional food. The restaurant is called Patuá, and although the address is not given in the article, the newspaper locates it in a district called Bexiga, a central-city district known for art, culture and cuisine. The owner, cook, waitress and hostess of Patuá is Helia Bispo, known to all her patrons as Bá. Migrating from Bahia state to São Paulo  in 1989, Bá made her living selling acarajé in the evening on Av. 13 de Maio. In 2001, city regulations prevented her from continuing to sell her product on the street, and she began a catering business from her home. As the business grew, and the customer list too, Bá decided to do full dinners in her house for a selected group of clients, and thus Patuá was born. At Patuá, she of course offers acarajé as well as other traditional dishes of Bahian cuisine, such as  bobó de camarão.

Most of the clientele at Patuá  are regulars, and often reluctant to pass on contact information, but if you'd like to make a reservation, call  +55.11.3115-0513 and speak to Bá. If she likes the sound of your voice, she'll divulge Patuá's address and invite you for a meal.

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