Quitanda

Late in May, Chris Bertram posted this photograph on Crooked Timber under the title Brazil, shop at night. The shop is in Pirenópolis, a city in the state of Goiás. The sign in the center of the photograph reads: “Temos croissant, bolos e quitandas.” Literally, “we have croissant, cakes and…” What is quitanda?

At this point, we need a good dictionary. Wiktionary, Collins, Porto Editora, even Michaelis’ Portuguese-English dictionary aren’t much use in our case. A “small shop” doesn’t work here: rather, we’re looking for something sold at small shops. Fortunately, Michaelis’ Dicionário Brasileiro da Língua Portuguesa makes the meaning pretty clear. If I understand correctly,

Homemade sweets and delicacies, typically flour-based, displayed on a tray.

This usage is regional: (the state of) Minas Gerais, the South and the Center-West. Goiás is part of the Center-West, bordering on Minas Gerais. Everything fits. The next step is to Google quitanda Goiás and enjoy the images. Here’s a particularly relevant link, to a page on the Pirenópolis tourism portal under this title:

There is no feast in Pirenópolis without quitanda.

As you can see from the line below the “croissant, bolos e quitandas” in the photograph, the small shop also sells various sweet cakes ( “tortas”), including Black Forest gâteaux and a chocolate bonbon cake. A rich selection for a modest business like that!

The picture dates from 2013. As one of the commenters remarked, “[t]he fellow with the moped under the awning is the deliveryman.” I wonder if electric bikes have since replaced traditional mopeds as light delivery vehicles in Pirenópolis.

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