It is a pleasant midday in São Paulo. Saturday. It is sunny, yet the ‘waters of March’ have already begun the preceding week. Torrential, rainforest downpours. Everything stops that can justifiably stop.
Strolling through the Center, one stumbles across a street corner where a constellation of outdoor diners and drinkers are held together by the samba band of the largest bar.
It’s a good day to know how to eat at ITA, and to be alone. The single stools are usually easier to find. I bypass a group of six. It will take forever for them to find seats. Frango Milanese with a side salad. Accompaniments: rice, beans, fries and farofa. Fresh orange juice. ITA has run by a couple of ‘Portuguese brothers’ for forty years I was told. The signature red-and-white tiles at the back of the lanchonete bear the Portuguese cross I was told. I like it when the brothers serve me, even if one of the has a grouchy side. I forego pudim because I want a tea-shake for dessert. The younger server tallies up my order with a pencil on the marble counter.
At the walk-up mate bar, the extra from a take-away tea, powdered milk and acerola concoction is poured into a glass, not to be wasted. It has not happened yet today, but a lanchonete clerk might offer a single pack of Chicklets along with the change, or a small cup of coffee from a pot near the register.
I bought some chairs on the way to the Copan building, where I’m making my office these days in between Lanchonete.org guests. The shop owner enlisted a carrinho driver to roll the chairs over to the building. I walked faster than him but made sure he could see me. He was enjoying talking to people along the way. It occurred to me that a pushcart is the easiest way to move most things for a short distance in São Paulo. The carrinho drivers are ever-present in the Center. One must only know where to look for them … under bridges, different sizes.