Good Street Eats in Fortaleza
After spending the better part of a month in rural parts of Brazil, Phyllis and I made it back to a big city, Fortaleza. Instead of heading for the beach or the bush for snacks, we had to grab something on the street. I don’t think the food was strictly from Fortaleza and sometimes not even Brazilian (we had calzones and alfajores from an Argentinian guy), but it doesn’t mean it was any less tasty. Heading to Praça de Dos Mil or Beira Mar’s waterfront is a good place to get started in street food adventures…
This food is definitely not from Fortaleza, but since Phyllis isn’t going to make it to Bahia this time around, she had to taste this typical dish that tourist’s normally enjoy in Salvador. Beans are made into a ball and deep-fried in palm oil then stuffed with shrimp, a salad of green and red tomatoes, and spicy paste. The dish arrived in Brazil with the slave trade and it traces its origins back to Africa;something similar can be eaten in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
So good… though admittedly this one could have been a bit spicier. Maybe they skimped because we look foreign.
There’s lots of countries that sell corn on the street and Fortaleza puts Brazil in that club. You can either have it just cooked and yellow or you can have the grilled version. I, personally, think the grilled corn tastes a bit like popcorn. If you happen to be walking anywhere along the Beira Mar waterfront in Fortaleza, you’ll find plenty of people vending delicious corn for 2-3 R$.
My friend Gabe and I both became addicted during our first visit to Brazilian pastels because they are basically a deep-fried pie stuffed with any variety of deliciousness. You can pick them up just about anywhere in Brazil, some better than others and at different prices. There’s many pastel places that have hundreds of combinations of fillings, some popular ones being mozzarella, palm hearts, cream cheese, tomatoes, meat, and shrimp. You can also make this a dessert so, of course, I had a typical Brazilian combination called a ‘Romeo & Julietta’ (cheese & guava) that was absolutely mouth watering and paid only 5 R$ for.
If you know where to look, which Phyllis and I do, you can still find tropical fruits around Fortaleza. We actually go these off of our host’s Fortaleza suburb house where they had tons of trees dripping in mango, cajazinha, cajú, and starfruit. Those not lucky enough to have connections, try looking in the park or for fruit vendors on the street cause fruit always makes for a good snack.
Okay, this was not street food, but it’s important to mention because ice cream is just awesome and delicious. Plus, it’s hot in this part of Brazil so this is one of those things you have to know. We checked out two ice cream places, Cinquenta Sabores, which is super fancy and definitely has waaaaaay more flavors than their ‘fifty flavors’ tricks you into thinking, and Sorveteria Juarez, the oldest ice cream place in Fortaleza. Both delicious and stocked up with every flavor you could ever want including all the tropical fruits you can get here, desserts, and even caipirinha flavor.
And look how happy it made us all… if you eat ice cream, you’ll be happy too.
If you want to bring some of the great flavors home then you can head to any of the markets… You’ll find plenty of tasty treats including several different versions of cashew nuts (raw, salted, sweet, roasted, etc.) and you can buy lots of jammed versions of fruits, like açaí and cupuaçu, or spicy pastes stuffed in bottles.
Brazil is typically an expensive place to get food so eating on the street can really help save you some dough. The ice cream was, unfortunately, on par with any fancy ice cream eatery in the US in terms of pricing, but it was delicious.