Friday, Central Public Market in Porto Alegre (GPS 30.027512 Lat. S; 51.227875 Long. W), capital of our state (Rio Grande do Sul), 350 km north of where I live. This Market was opened to the public 140 years ago, and is one of the most traditional places in that city for buying regional products. It also has a couple of delicatessen, where you can find from dried Norwegian codfish to Arabian dates and French “fois gras”. For me, who live in a small town, such market is always a wonderful source of food and ingredients. I enjoy the vision, the atmosphere, the noise and the smell of such formidable place. My money is never enough to buy everything I want, but luckily always enough to fill the car trunk.
Since it’s winter on this side of the globe I went there to have “mocotó” with my wife and a couple of friends.
“Mocotó”, which literally means “cow’s feet”, is a traditional Brazilian white beans soup. The basic ingredients are cow’s feet, of course, cow’s stomach (tripe – “dobradinha”) and white beans. In southern Brazil we also add sausages and olives.
Preparation is rather time consuming, and involves a lot of washing and cleaning the feet and stomach with acidified water (using lime juice or vinager) and then cooking for about 1 hr in a preassure cooker. The feet are then refrigerated overnight and the protein (collagen) then carefully scraped out and used to prepare the soup. The stomach and sausage are sliced into bite sized pieces. Meats are then fried in olive oil with onions and garlic. Water and white beans are added and left to cook until beans are soft. When ready the soup is served very hot (after all it’s a winter’s dish) garnished with green olives and chopped parsley and boiled egg. A few drops of a very hot chili sauce are added just before eating to improve its power of heating the body during these cold winter days.
There are several small restaurants in the Market which serve this dish, but we chose “Naval”, a rather typical place, since they have been around for over 100 years.
The food was wonderful and at a very nice price, as we spent around US$ 12,00/person, including a couple of beers.
In Brazil it’s believed that mocotó is one of the best medicines for hangover, but I bet you won’t regret trying it even if you’re sober.