Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clay pots in Brazil

Luiz and his tourism class went to Guarapari in Espirito Santo last weekend. That’s several hours north of Rio along the coast, just short of Victoria, the capital of Espirito Santo.

This region is famous for a lot of things, but for us old-school guys, it’s the clay pots that catch our attention. The pots are made from black clay and mangrove tree sap washed and molded. After dried in the open air and put through a bonfire, sap is applied a few additional times to blacken the clay and to make it water resistant.

I love this kind of cooking. Thirteen years ago Luiz won my heart when he cooked a seafood moqueca for me, in a clay pot, on one of our first dates. SOLD!
On this trip he brought back two pots: one highly decorated and large enough for a good moqueca, and the other just the right size for rice or a delicious pirão. Complete with their wire serving bases.
To me – food is best when cooked in clay or stone. Plus it goes from the stove/oven to the table in the same pot, keeping it hot.
One more reason to love Brazil.


Anita said...

The father family is from ES state and I used to go there regularly when a child. There were several shops along the roads, selling black caly pots and stuff like that. I have NEVER EVER seen a decorated one !!!!!!!! I have a humble little pot in my Dutch house (bought in Brazil of course) and the folks here ask me whether it comes from Thailand or Indonesia.

Jim said...

Anita - I am THRILLED to have a decorated pot. I,too, had never seen one before. This one has a fish, a shrimp and multiple herbs applied to the lid. It is very colorful and adoreable.

Lucky us.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita said...

Actually I brought three of them when I moved to Holland: super big, medium and small. Only the small one survived the trip, the other two broke apart.
P.S.: Ugh, I mean: "My father's family". Kids around+TV on = messy grammar.

Ray and Gil said...


Love your clay pots! Never seen the decorates ones either... :)
Iron pots "Panela de Ferro" are also very popular in Brazil, principally in rural areas and in Minas Gerais.



Nina said...

I definitely want to invest into a clay pot. I bought a mineas rice pot and I love it! I can't live without it anymore!

Maria Lívia said...

Yupiii, Victoria is where I was born, the city I love, but now I live in Bahia! (Saudade of "Moqueca capixaba")

JAD said...


I'm trying to find out more about these pots. Do they differ between Victoria and Bahia. If so, how? I realize the Moqueca differs between the regions. Last, is there any place to buy them in the U.S.

Jim said...

Jad - sorry for the late reply -- I am not aware of any significant difference in the pots by coastal region.

I would think if you live in an urban area with many Brazilians you MIGHT find a boutique grocery store that carries these pots - or could arrange to order one for you -- for a price.

They are wonderful.


Uh oh! Wish I'd found this blog about an hour ago. Before I put my panela de barro in the oven. I got it at the Feira de Itapua, where I was told to just coat the insides with good quality cooking oil and heat it in the oven for an hour or so. Nothing about water or fat meat. My old oven has one speed: hot. We'll see how it turns out. I haven't heard any explosions, so in the meantime, I'll get to know your blog. And if this doesn't work, I'll try again using your method.