People say that the secret of the famous moqueca* and pie from Espírito Santo lies in the pot they are cooked in – the one made of clay by the Pot Makers of Goiabeiras: an original handicraft recognized and registered as Brazilian Cultural Heritage.
I went to Vitória in September and visited the workshop which has recently been opened for the artisans to work and sell their products. The place is big with wide aisles, displaying pots of several types and shapes, besides cooking and decoration accessories – I even found something that can be used as a barbecue. Outside there is a bonfire where they waterproof the pottery.
Inside the workshop a lady told me all about the process of creation while shaping the clay and trying to convince me to buy lots of products. If I were not backpacking, her smooth talk would have made me spend much more.
The way they make pots is an ancient indigenous tradition, older than Portuguese colonization, passed on from generation to generation by the pot makers until today. It is a traditionally female activity, but I saw men doing it just as well – supervised by the women, of course.
Manufacturing involves modeling, scraping, hitting (açoite), burning and polishing. All the material used in the process comes from Vitória Island: the clay is removed from Vale do Mulembá, the paint comes from the red mangroves in Goiabeiras and the vassourinha de muxinga (a bunch of leaves used to hit the pot) is from a local bush.
The authentic clay pot from Espírito Santo has the Quality Label from the Pot Makers Association. The best place to buy them is at the workshop, directly with the artisans. I bought a medium-sized one with a lid for R$ 15,00 and even got some recipes. The prices are great.
POT MAKERS ASSOCIATION OF GOIABEIRAS (Associação das Paneleiras de Goiabeiras) is on Leopoldo Gomes Sales St., Goiabeiras Velhas. Opened from Mon to Sat, 8am – 6pm.
The original pots are much used by local restaurants, where you can already notice the difference in the flavor of the food and crave to have one yourself.
* a Brazilian seafood stew based on fish, onions, garlic and cilantro.