Travelling to the Amazon, Pan Brazil, Salvador, Bahia, Rio and São Paolo, Food Network’s new show Andy Bates’ Brazilian Street Feasts goes on “one big tour” of the South American nation.
In the 15-part show, Bates delves into budget cuisine influenced by French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese flavours. He tells us more…
You must have a stomach of steel to be eating all this street food?
Yes I do, but I’ve got a rule: I only eat when we’re filming, or it can get quite scary. I’m very fortunate and I do eat a lot anyway.
What’s your advice to people wanting to try street food?
Always go for it. Always search out street food, it’s one of the first things I do [when travelling].
What’s your top street food find of all time?
Sushi from a truck in America, and the beach food in Praia do Forte, Brazil. In the new series, we met a guy who catches live lobsters, cooks them and serves them on surfboards. He turns the beach into a restaurant. It’s one of those moments where you think, “yeah this is good!”
What’s the worst thing you have to eat during this series?
The worse thing I had was the bodo fish, a fish that lives at the bottom of the Amazon. We filmed in the Amazon for about five or six days and they cooked this fish live and it tasted like mud and marmite. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever eaten.
How can we get the British public avoiding chains and eating more street food?
Street food is a massive thing at the moment. It’s ginormous, you’ve got books out, I’m on my third series, you’ve got a lot of groups starting up street food events in Glasgow, Manchester. A good way for people to find out is to go on Twitter and find out where these events and small companies are. I’m in such a good position, I get to go around the world with a channel and all I have to do is try food – it’s not a bad gig is it? It’s a world cup year in Brazil, and I want people to be cooking recipes from [Brazilian Street Feasts]. Then Tweet them and put them on Facebook.
You do get around, what’s your best piece of travel advice?
Stay safe, be aware.
What do you never leave home without when travelling?
It’s a bit geeky – but a four way plug adapter. You take a laptop, a charger and a shaver and if you’ve only got one plug [it doesn’t work]. It was a cameraman who gave me that very useful advice.
What are your top three places and dishes to try in Brazil?
Ipanema Beach, Rio: Go there and try a Uruguayan meat sandwich – they’re fantastic. Put the chilli sauce on there as well. The funny thing is that you are queuing on the beach, it’s a very beautiful beach, and everyone looks beautiful as well. You’ve got people queuing for sandwiches in their swimwear and bikinis and men on the beach in suits, who have just jumped out of the office.
Salvador de Bahia: There’s very spiritual and African influence here, so it’s a great place to visit. The food is great and there’s great architecture. Try acaraje – a dried shrimp dish, which is almost like a doughnut and a fritter.
Manaus: It’s on the edge of the Amazon, where England [football team] is based for the world cup. Here they have this giant Amazonian cod. You just fry the ribs – the taste for me was between pork and swordfish. It’s a giant rib and you just eat off it. It’s amazing. They put a marinade on it, but there’s always hot pepper sauce to drizzle over it and good salsa.
São Paolo: There’s a really good street food scene emerging here. The Italian food was really good in Sao Paolo, there are loads of Italian restaurants, which we didn’t expect to find. We met a guy who had converted an old van into a food truck and drives it around making pasta.
Where would you like to go next and sample the street food?
Next, Australia or New Zealand.
Watch Andy Bates’ Brazilian Street Feasts at 8pm, February 3, on Food Network (freeview 41, Sky 262, freesat 403, Virgin 287)