Pé Sujos! Opus 4

domingo, 22 de fevereiro de 2009

One of the most popular meeting points in almost every town, hamlet or city in Brazil is the “Pé Sujo.” It translates into the “Dirty Foot.” The customers will walk in from the street or beach and may be wearing shoes or flip-flops . . . not forgetting the occasional bare feet . . . and thus the name “dirty foot”. The “dirty foot” is an open air bar and grill that has a front to the streets or large sidewalk areas.

Pé Sujos!   Opus 4

It’s always better if the owner has a corner spot on the block so that the customers can see people coming from different directions. It is the gathering place of all sorts of characters from the most sophisticated to the simplest and most humble representatives of Brazilian humanity.  It’s a friendly and comfortable location that over the years has amassed its own particular clientele and thusly each establishment has its own personality. 


During a normal day, the regulars may pass by and salute the friendly and familiar faces at the stand up bar (there may be some stools) or they might just stop for a small but strong coffee and empanada or a shot of pinga (clear or yellow) which is distilled sugarcane liqueur that is more palatable to many if mixed with passion fruit or any other number of tropical fruits. These are called “batidas,” but it doesn’t stop there.


There are various types of “batidas.” Some have soaked herbs, roots and others allege having medicinal plants inside the bottle to give the stuff a different flavor and sometimes a different effect. Brazilians swear by the healing qualities of these ingredients. 


My favorite is a nice mild ginger “batida.” The ginger is blended with “cachaça” to make a sort of spicy drink which is then smoothed out with condensed milk and other sweeteners. Be careful. This stuff can beat a swift path to your head and make you believe you just might be a little smarter, stronger, funnier or faster than you really are. There is another popular blend made of fresh squeezed lime and sugar and that is called a “caipirinha” and it also has several different mutations that might utilize vodka or some other clear alcoholic beverage. Some Brazilians like to make a sort of boiler maker by downing a shot and following it with a swig of beer.


Along with the traditional alcohol, there are the snacks which can vary from different types of cheeses, fried pieces of chicken, sausages, fried fatback pork, stuffed pastries, kibe’s (there is a strong Syrian influence in many Brazilian kitchens and these are fried meatballs made with hamburger, cracked wheat and fresh mint) and there might be a “bill of fair” offering several barbequed pieces of popular cuts of meat. Sometimes fresh fried pan fish is offered up. There are also pastries stuffed with chicken and cheese. There’s the famous Portuguese “pastel” which is a quick fried pasta-like shell stuffed with meat, cheese and other combinations of things including palm hearts, onions etc. French fries are never in fault.


If you’re going to partake of these goodies, it’s a wise idea to make sure they are fresh, as the local health departments don’t generally regulate this type of establishment; however, I never saw anyone get sick just over the food without the strong influence of too much booze.





Please don’t get the idea that Brazilians go to these places to eat and get drunk. They’re more like places to roster in and to let the rest of the world know you’re OK, making your rounds today and incase any friend is looking for you, they’ll know where to get news about you.


It is rare to see the same people every day. It is always a gathering place of friends, new and old. Loud talking and yelling will take place. The waiters will be verbally chastised, but in good humor. All bills will be carefully scrutinized and argued over and there will always be the ever present “mooch” trying to get someone to buy them a drink or a cigarette. Every street bar or “pé sujo” will have a moocher and a beggar or two isn’t uncommon.


You also might find fresh green coconuts that are sliced open just enough to insert a straw for anyone needing hydration and it is very popular to add vodka or something similar to combine with the fresh coconut juice/water right inside of the coconut.


The “pé sujo” can also be called a “butiquim” and don’t be surprised if someone has a guitar and a rather odd rendition of what was once a very popular song. Musicians, artist, public servants, journalist, educators, lawyers, accountants and almost any other professional will find their way to this type of gathering place. If you don’t speak Portuguese, don’t worry, because everyone will try to communicate in English using words they have heard in movies, songs, on the streets, from sailors, or even in good understandable English. You’ll make friends faster trying to learn some Portuguese no matter how embarrassed you might feel for trying. “Pé Sujos” are a part of the remnants of the old bohemian traditions of Brazil. Don’t be surprised if you see children sent to pick up beer and cigarettes for their parents and no one would ever think ill of it. There are no hang-ups about children running this type of errand for their family and they seem to enjoy a short moment of mixing with the denizens of this socially acceptable watering hole.


I shouldn’t leave this subject alone without going into the beers. Each “dirty foot” will promote a main brand of beer, because that particular distributor provides them with the tables, chairs, signs and the Styrofoam thermal containers that keep the beer cold while it sets on the table.  Of course the aforementioned are plastered with the name of the beer company providing the accessories.


Generally one large liter bottle will be served at a time with the correct number of smaller sized glasses so that it can be shared and kept fresh. I would not try to suggest which beer “brand” is the best. I’ve learned from an old beer salesman that the freshest “beer” is the best. There are probably about ten or so popular brands and they all take turns as far as their popularity goes. Try them. You’ll pick one that you like.


If you haven’t gotten the idea as of yet, the “dirty foot” is a very important and integral part of the bohemian Brazilian social life. Other countries might have the barber shop, the general store, the soda fountain, but they all serve the same purpose. They bring people together and they are a part of social networking.




Autor: Dean Weston
Publicação vista 1833 vezes

Existe 1 comentário para esta publicação
terça-feira, 24/2/2009 por jorge de viena
hi, dean after reading your article I was drunk, stuffed with "frango a passarinho" and happy. have a nice one, jorge
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