Neighborhood Kitchens Visits Muqueca
By Margarita Martinez
BOSTON — When I visit Inman Square, I always feel like I am going to discover something that I can’t find any place else. It may be a one-of-a-kind vintage dress or a new book or hard-to-find spices and ingredients. This cozy neighborhood, half a mile from the nearest T station, is loaded with unique and independently-owned retail businesses. The flags and businesses that reflect the Portuguese and Brazilian influence in Cambridge also distinguish Inman Square.
A few blocks east of Inman Square's center, past the Midwest Grill, a popular Brazilian barbeque restaurant, is Chef Fátima Langa and her restaurant, Muqueca. When Chef Fatima, or Fafa for short, came to Cambridge from New York in 1999, she wanted to serve Brazilian food that was not yet offered in the Boston area. Fafa decided to serve the food that she loves and knows best; food from the eastern coastal state of Espirito Santo in Brazil and its capital, Vitoria, where Fafa grew up.
The cuisine is not the only part of Muqueca that reflects the Brazilian coast. When you enter Muqueca's doors it is as if you are escaping to the tropics. The restaurant is decorated with bright colors and paintings. The bar boasts many Brazilian juices including acai, cupuacu, and acerola juices. And there on a pedestal as you walk in is a clay pot imported from Brazil. The pot is used to cook moqueca, the Brazilian seafood stew the restaurant is named after. Much like cooking with seasoned cast iron, the moqueca pot lends a distinctive flavor to any dish that is prepared with it.
Like her restaurant and her neighborhood, Chef Fafa has a unique personality. She is such a generous person. You may notice in the episode how Fafa does not just prepare enough for the two of us to eat, she prepares enough for at least six people! Of course, she wanted to showcase some of Muqueca's signature dishes, but she was also very determined that everyone from the Neighborhood Kitchens crew would leave her restaurant well fed. I mean, just look at those huge moqueca pots filled to the brim with haddock and shrimp! And when Fafa learned that I wanted to improve my knife skills, she actually took the time to teach me how to quickly and easily dice onions and tomatoes finely. At the end of the day, she even chased after me when she realized that I had forgotten to take an additional slice of Tapioca Cuscuz home with me.
Perhaps that friendly and nurturing spirit is just Fafa’s personality—but I have known enough Brazilians to know that it is also e o jeitinho brasileiro—the Brazilian way.
Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online find out more about Muqueca, part of Inman Square in Cambridge.
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About Neighborhood KitchensBuilding on a 34-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 6:30pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
Margarita grew up in the Bronx and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. From making her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina to her lifelong search for authentic Mexican food in the Northeast, Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for Latin American food. Margarita is also passionate about acting and music. She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU with a BFA in Drama.
On the GoIn each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!
Watch: Full Episodes
Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
Margarita's Neighborhood Visits
»Boston's South End:
Orinoco and Teranga
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»Cambridge: Muqueca and Oleana
»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer
»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le
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