Friday, March 18, 2011
Bar do Mané. Its fame rests largely (and I do mean largely) on one particular menu item - a mortadela sandwich. Mortadela is the Brazilian version of the Italian cold cut mortadella which dates back to the romans, and which Italian emigrants have carried around the world. A specialty of Bologna, mortadella evolved in the USA into the famous American bologna (or baloney) sausage. In Brazil, where it's hugely popular, it has remained basically unchanged from its original Italian recipe.
What makes the mortadela sandwich at Bar do Mané such a culinary celebrity is its bulk. The sandwich, served in a French roll, packs 250 gr - over half a pound - of thinly-sliced mortadela between its two halves, guarnished with tomato and lettuce. The mortadela is folded and stacked in the roll, making a mountainous mouthful.
Legend has it that the sandwich was created one day when a regular customer complained that his mortadela sandwich was somewhat lacking in mortadela. Someone in the kitchen staff decided to call the diner's bluff and loaded the sandwich to the ceiling with mortadela. When the diner was served his sandwich his eyes popped out of his head, but within a short time he'd finished the sandwich. The next day he returned and ordered a sandwich "just like yesterday's." Other diners saw this beast of a sandwich passing by and asked for the same thing. Eventually the bar had to put the sandwich on the menu, and it remains their most popular menu item to this day.
Other Municipal Market restaurants now offer the same sandwich, but when something is as closely identified as the mortadela sandwich is with the Bar do Mané, go for the original. See if you can polish one off. Depending on the options chosen (like cheese) the price for the mortadela sandwich ranges from R$11 to R$15. That's about USD $7.00 to $9.50. It won't break the bank, but it just might ruin your diet!