Here the picanha and ribs are real. So begins the conversation with Antonio Rapach, owner of the most famous cheese in Canoas, a city that calls itself the capital of cheese. At the snack bar, Rapach guarantees more than the aroma: the rib snack comes with ribs, and the picanha snack comes with rump steak. It seems obvious. But it is not.
After the controversy of the last few days involving the most famous fast food chains in the world, McDonald’s and Burger King, it is necessary to decline the obvious. The controversy ended up in the Ministry of Justice and even in the Senate, in defense of the consumer. The two giants were summoned to manifest for not selling what they advertised on the menu.
The McPicanha and Whopper Ribs snacks were not made with the cuts of meat promised in the name itself, but flavored. “I was even surprised when I saw that they had these snacks, I thought they were going to compete”, says Rapach.
At age 62, he returned to the kitchen to sell his fish – or his steak. The rib cheese, for example, has been a hit for 12 years on the menu. “Actually, the father never stopped making cheese. He has a plate at home, he is always making it up”, confides his daughter Rachel. In public, however, Rapach points out that he didn’t invent anything: he just makes it simple, as he teaches his employees.
For the preparation of snacks in their establishments, the meat is purchased directly from the refrigerator and seasoned only with salt. Without any big secrets from the great chefs.
The prime rib window arrives and is soon deboned. The carte is ground and transformed into steak to be crispy on the grill, always hot. The picanha, red and with very yellow fat, is cut into small strips.
The two snacks are accompanied by the house mayonnaise, bread, cheese, egg, corn, peas, tomato and lettuce. “It’s a simple cheese”, classifies the owner, who confides having eaten only once “at this one in Méqui”. “My cheese has no artificial seasoning or flavoring.”
Despite the success of the two options, the cheese salad is still the most requested on Mondays, because whoever buys one takes another during the week. “It’s the most traditional and also the cheapest,” he explains. Rapach calculates selling around 1,000 snacks a day. Before the pandemic, the number was higher, but it fell by half. The good news is that things are getting better.
When asked why Canoas is considered the capital of cheese, Rapach is emphatic: “Here, there’s a cheese on every corner, it’s a practical food”, comments the merchant, who says he doesn’t taste snacks from competitors. “I care about making a good cheese, without great seasonings, but if I say it has picanha and ribs, it has to be.”
Harms of flavored foods
Flavored snacks are increasingly present in our daily lives. Whether fast food or microwave food, the fact is that this type of food has become routine in the lives of those who have little time. “This daily consumption can cause damage to health”, warns nutritionist Cristiane Rodrigues. The specialist highlights the harm to the body. “Food additives are considered xenobiotics, that is, they are toxins. And the accumulation of these toxins can cause everything from headaches to digestive problems, hair loss, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.” In addition, they can develop into even more serious diseases. “Consumption increases the risk of developing cancer, food hypersensitivity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Good food and activities are recommended. “It is essential to have a healthy diet with water, fruits, vegetables, and cereals, the practice of regular physical activity, and care with spirituality.”
Even a little bird surrendered to the taste
Anyone searching the Internet for “capital of cheese” or “city of cheese” will likely find the same answer: Canoas. The controversy exists. Some say it’s Caxias or Santa Maria and even Campo Bom enters the dispute. But the fact is that the city of the plane is also known for the art of making cheese. And that’s law. Six years ago, a date was created to commemorate the snack so consumed by Canoans: May 28. Whether or not it is the capital of snacks, it is worth remembering that Canoas is the only city where even birds eat. In 2017, the story of the João-de-Barro couple who frequented a trailer in the Marechal Rondon neighborhood to consume their snack went viral on the Internet. The names are a separate chapter: there’s everything cheese, ice cap cheese, mess cheese, rotten cheese… Anything goes to attract customers.
Almost five decades making snacks
Antônio Rapach started making snacks at the age of 14, in 1974. The then boy from the countryside of Maquiné arrived in Canoas: “I used to make cheese at a snack bar in front of Cristo Redentor school.” Since then, it has been almost 50 years in this field. In 1980, he opened the first store and currently has six. There are four in Canoas, one in Novo Hamburgo and another in São Leopoldo. He has been serving cheeses in the metropolitan region for a long time, he has no idea how many he has sold or made in his life. “We’ve passed the millions and it’s been a while”, he laughs. Some 20 years ago in the administrative part of the business, he returned to the edge of the ticket to show ABC the real cheese rib. “I miss that time when I worked on the plate. I’m still going to spend a whole night making cheese”, he says, laughing. “But that fast food chain I’m not going back.”