Arndale Food Market
Sfirra de frango: £1.80
Risole de carna moida: £1.60
Jonesing for more South American food (two hits and I'm an addict) but unable to afford the increasingly ubiquitous meat-on-a-stick Brazilian joints that have popped up all over Manchester, I decided to try the Arndale Food Market's very own Brazilian snackbar. My first attempt to find cheap South American food in Manchester ended in tasteless, soggy, disappointing disaster.
I will admit that I have never had Brazilian food before. However, unless Brazil is the black sheep of the South American culinary family, I do not think that my experience is indicative of Brazilian cuisine. Does Brazilian food deliberately eschew all spices and flavours? Do Brazilians see chicken and think that it needs to be ground up into dry and tasteless shreds and then compacted into damp lumps? Must Brazilians use canned vegetables that taste and look past their use-by date? Are breads designed to be wetly gluey? I am pretty sure that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding "no."
My first disappointment arrived in the form of a sfirra de frango, ostensibly a bun filled with skinless chicken breast. From the outside it looked nice: the bun was a pleasant golden colour designed to make it look like it had been wrapped up in dough. Unfortunately, it was gluey and limp. Inside, there was no evidence of the skinless chicken breast or, in fact, any chicken at all. Instead there was mush, mush interspersed with pieces of anaemic sweetcorn that had clearly a) come from a tin and b) seen better days. I deduced by process of elimination that the mush must be the chicken. There was certainly nothing that tasted or looked like any sort of chicken, let alone skinless chicken breast, but the reconstituted mush, with the appearance of a block of ramen and lumps that were dry on the inside while soggy on the outside, could not have been anything else if the sfirra de frango's ingredients list is to be believed.
Setting aside the bun, I took a bite out of the risole de carne moida, advertised as a breaded dough filled with mincemeat. The risole would have been better had the dough not had the overwhelming taste of cheap fishfingers in addition to a texture that reminded me of chewed paper. I nibbled through to the meat, which took me a while as there is not much of it, and was met with something that looked like mince and onions but tasted of nothing. It was a confusing experience as I have rarely eaten something that tastes of so little. I gave up, leaving the unfinished detritus of my hopeless attempt on the table.
I hoped that Manchester's Brazilian snackbar would fulfill my need for the spicy, flavour-packed food I had eaten from Colombian joints in London. Sadly, it did not.