The pleasant smell drifted not heavenward but into the O Shil Beit Chabad Itaim Synagogue, distracting the faithful from their prayers.
Next door, the Bolinha restaurant was gearing up for its usual barrage of patrons on Saturday, when Brazilians traditionally partake of their national dish, a black bean stew called feijoada. Unfortunately for the davening Jews, the recipe for feijoada includes pork chops, pork trotters, pork tails, pork ears, pork sausage and bacon.
According to some historians, feijoada was concocted by Brazilian slaves who transformed scraps from the big house into a slave-quarters delicacy.
But the owners of Bolinha, which is nationally famous for its feijoada, cite scholarly sources to make the case that the dish is really a Brazilian variation of European fare like the Spanish cassoulet and the Portuguese caldeirada.
Whatever its origin, feijoada stands as an important symbol of Brazilian heritage. That creates "tension between Jewish and Brazilian expressions of identity," according to the anthropologist Misha Klein of the University of Oklahoma.
"Brazilians with a strong Jewish identity, including some who are somewhat religiously observant," will indulge in the occasional feijoada, although it's not kosher, Klein said.