Wednesday, January 25, 2012

São Paulo - 458 Years Young

Today, January 25, is a day of celebration in Brazil's largest city (and one of the largest cities in the world) São Paulo. It was 458 years ago today, in 1554, that Jesuit fathers Manuel de Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded a village on a plateau 42 miles inland from the port city of São Vicente and baptized it São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga. Fortunately, that cumbersome name has since been shortened to São Paulo, just as another mission farther north in the Americas, Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, has had its name shortened to Los Angeles, or even to just plain LA.
São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga

Affectionately nicknamed A Cidade de Garoa by Brazilians, a nickname which means "The City of Drizzle" and which refers to a frequent climate condition on São Paulo's plateau, the city has grown to be one of the ten-largest metropolitan agglomerations in the world (some sources place it as high as third  place, others in fifth, sixth or seventh).

São Paulo isn't an easy city to love, and it doesn't have the picture-postcard appeal that Rio de Janeiro luxuriates in. It's noisy, hectic and overcrowded. Traffic is terrible, and the subway system would better suit a city one quarter of the size. (Nonetheless,  São Paulo's subway has more that 750 million riders annually). It's the economic and political powerhouse of Brazil, and the capital of Brazil's most populous state, also called São Paulo. As far as we know though, no one has written a hymn to São Paulo entitled "São Paulo, São Paulo" along the lines of "New York, New York." But São Paulo does have its own peculiar charm, and many Paulistanos swear they wouldn't live anywhere else on Earth.
São Paulo today

São Paulo is without contest the gastronomic center of Brazil. Clearly it leads the country in the sheer number of restaurants, food suppliers, meat and produce wholesale markets. But it also at the forefront of Brazil's new gastronomy - one São Paulo restaurant was recently voted the seventh best restaurant in the world, and every week a new and avant-garde restaurant is lauded in the food sections of local papers and in food and wine magazines. Because São Paulo is home to a number of large immigrant communities, the largest being Italian, Portuguese and Japanese, and also home to communities of internal migrants from other regions of Brazil, you can find almost any type of cuisine in São Paulo - whether international cuisines or regional Brazilian cuisines.

In the next few days, Flavors of Brazil will feature some typical Paulistano recipes and link back to some we've published earlier. Today, we'll just join the chorus of those wishing all 20 million or so residents of São Paulo a very happy municipal birthday.

No comments:

Post a Comment