Something about cooking beans in a soapstone pot makes them taste better. Or maybe it’s just me. And there is quite simply no better way to make a shrimp moqueca than in a big clay pot. Perhaps I just feel differently about food cooked in an old-world stone or clay pot.
There are two types of cookware you will find for sale along the side of the road: stone and clay. Big black clay pots (made of mud and mangrove tree sap) are often stacked three high in three sizes and lined up along the dirt shoulder in coastal areas. Handwritten signs hawk the pots, 4qt., 3qt. and 1.5 qt. with lids, 3 for R$10 (or just US$5.50).
When driving through the state of Minas Gerais you can find pots carved from local soapstone. Various sizes are available, as are pizza stones and other meat roasting platters. These pots are not quite so cheap, but still a dream for the price.
When we were first dating, Luiz secured my heart via my stomach and my fondness for all things rustic by having me over for a seafood moqueca cooked and served in a clay pot brought from Brazil. In these clay (or stone) pots you can sauté or boil on top of the stove, or cover and roast inside the oven. Then they go, beautifully, from the stove to the table, keeping the food warm with their dense thermal properties.
Today Luiz cooked up some white beans and stewing meats in a big stone pot and his famous perfect rice in a smaller pot. Many thanks to Carlinhos and Dü, our friends in Belo Horizontes, who brought us these wonderful pots for our birthday last May.