Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mini-Adventures In Lil' Brazil

Qualé? (That's Portuguese for "Whatup?!")

The Militant was riding the Metro Rapid on Venice Boulevard around the Palms/Culver City area not too long ago when he happened upon a single-story building on the southwest corner of Venice and Westwood boulevards that called itself the "Brazilian Mall." The Militant instantly did a "O_o" face and vowed to return for a Militant mission to see more.

The Portuguese-speaking Brazilian community (many of them consider themselves "expatriates" rather than "immigrants') in Los Angeles may be an asterisk within our local Latin American demographic, but there's a healthy community of them who have called the Palms/Culver City area for some 30-40 years, with restaurants, markets and other Brazilian-owned shops along the Venice Blvd corridor between Sepulveda Blvd and Motor Ave.

This Brazilian Mall has actually been around for some 20 or so years. The building, home to some half-dozen businesses, is topped by a skylighted atrium structure, where dining tables are set up underneath, for a Brazilian pizza restaurant which has only been around since 2010. It is a 'mall' in the true sense, as all of the other businesses also have entryways from the atrium.

Admittedly not as familiar with Brazilian culture as he is with others, he wanted a quick, inexpensive taste of South America's largest country, so he checked out Supermercado Brasil.

Typical of our local ethnic markets, this one also features nearly everything for the homesick, including snack foods, beverages, cooking ingredients (the brands Yoki and Soya are well-represented here), and even CDs/DVDs, flags, t-shirts and (this being Brazil of course), bikinis.

Although, it doesn't matter what country an ethnic market represents, you will always find Italian panettone for sale. Is The Militant right?

Having not too much money in his pocket, he was still able to get a little taste of Brazil. He got a bag of plantain chips, a bottle of maracuya juice (Though he learned "maracuya" is just a fancy Portuguese way of saying "passionfruit") and a bag of Batata Palha, or potato sticks, which is considered a side dish rather than a snack food in Brazil.

The woman who was in line before him pointed to a fancy dish of bonbon-like confectionaries under a glass, and asked for a few which were placed in a plastic bag. The Militant was naturally curious and asked about them.

He was told they were Brazilian hand-made candies, made either out of chocolate (brigadieros) or coconut (beijinhos), each for $1.50.

He got a beijinho (pictured left), which was chewy and sweet, with the taste of coconut, sugar and condensed milk. Apparently they are made for birthday parties in Brazil.

For more of that Brazilian flavor, you can check out some of local restaurants in Lil' Brazil on Venice, such as Cafe Brasil or Kikafulô (formerly Zabumba) -- both within walking distance of the Brazilian Mall.

Also, don't forget to check out the Brazilian Day festival later this Summer on Saturday, September 7 at Hancock Park, right by the La Brea Tar Pits.

Ficas Militante!


Evan said...


Anonymous said...

"maracuyá" is Spanish. What you mean is "maracujá"

it's an easy mistake to make

jengod said...

There is also a Brazilian food place on Sepulveda near Braddock and Brazilian Cultural Center on Washington near Inglewood.

Good piece.