Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Prato Feito

Lunch is the main meal in Brazil, meaning that most people eat lunch out in the middle of their work day. Though buffet-type places that sell food by the kilo are probably the most common option these days (with wildly variable quality), many older pubs and hole-in-the-wall restaurants sell what is called a "prato feito", an extremely filling dish made up of a protein, rice, black beans, farofa and spaghetti. You know, real (and real caloric) food, made up of whatever was cheap at the market that day. Black beans and three kinds of starch? Count me in. I will choose a prato feito over a "kilo" restaurant almost any day of the week.

While the prato feito at some places can be kind of a mess on a plate, I recently stumbled upon a really quality one, among the old crumbling buildings and restored façades that line the Avenida Mem de Sá in Lapa. Nicely stewed frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) and in this case, mashed potatoes instead of the typical spaghetti, all for 7 reais (~$3.50). If you order a glass bottle of off-brand guarana soda to share (one of the only sodas in the world I actually like, and no I can't tell the difference between brands), two people can eat an enormous lunch for 16 reais, possibly with leftovers, not bad in a wildly overpriced city where it can be hard to find meal for under 20 reais for one person. And Lapa during the day is charming/gross/pretty all at once, its restaurants somehow always occupied by older men idly drinking beer at noon. It'd be a shame not to pass by every now and again.

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