I took a photo journey back through our Brazil albums from this summer – there’s still so much to share with you! Here are a few shots of the acarajé we tried straight from a Baiana vendor in the streets of Pelourinho, Salvador.
Acarajé is an example of the African influence on Brazilian cuisine. It’s made from dende oil-fried black-eyed peas and then stuffed with vatapá – a spicy shrimp/palm oil paste and caruru – a medley of vegetables and spicy sauce. Like many of the dishes in Brazil – we found it pretty heavy and decided to split 2 between the 4 of us.
On Saturday night in Salvador, we ate dinner at Yemanjá (Av. Octavio Mangabeira 4655, Jardim Armacao) for a traditional Bahaian taste.
Caju (Cashew Fruit), Passion Fruit and Kiwi Caipirinhas to wet the palate.
Casquinha de Siri – traditional Brazilian dish made with crab meat. We tried this dish a few times here in Salvador, Bahia (where the recipe is said to have originated) and noted that it’s always served in a crab shell-like porcelain dish.
Camarão ao Molho de Maracuja (shrimp with passion fruit sauce) served with rice and raisins. Heavy and sweet; another traditional favorite. (Rice and farofa in the background for the Moqueca)
Moqueca Mista made with Pescada Amarela (Brazilian yellow fish) served with white rice and a classic side of Pirão (essentially a fish ‘gravy’ made from fish broth and cassava flour). The Moqueca broth was served bubbling and all of the ingredients were totally submerged with the exception of some floating red tomatoes. So far throughout our trip every Moqueca (and feijoada) we’ve tasted has been served in a beautiful, traditional ‘Panela do Barro’ (handmade clay pot). It’s a very rustic look and it perfectly suits these hearty dishes.
In Salvador we ate at a well-known, traditional Brazilian restaurant called Yemanjá. But before I take you there – here’s a little bit on the goddess it’s named after (from our conversations with the locals and a some extra online research)…
Yemanjá is a famous goddess in Brazilian religions – both Candomblé and Umbanda. As the Goddess of the Ocean, she’s the patron deity of the fishermen. She’s honored across the country on different dates depending on location….
In Salvador, Bahia (where we visited early this week) – Yemanjá is celebrated with huge feasts every February 2nd and December 8th. On February 2nd – thousands of people awake in the morning to leave gifts of flowers, perfume, jewelry and make up at her shrine in Rio Vermelho (where we stayed). These offerings are then gathered and taken out to the sea by local fisherman. Throughout the day mediums, (maes and filhas de santa) chant and dance to call the spirit of Yemanjá. At night, there’s a huge street party in her honor. The second tribute in Salvador, the Gift to Yemanja, occurs on December 8 in the Pedra Furada, Monte Serrat with similar festivities.
Back in Rio, Yemanja is honored on New Year’s Eve (Révellion, which we also celebrate at Sushi Samba) when millions of people dress in white and gather along the beach to toss white flowers to the sea in her honor and then watch the fireworks. Some people even send her gifts out to see in tiny wooden boats to pay their respect with the hope that she will fulfill their wishes in the coming year.
And, in Sao Paulo – she’s celebrated the first two weekends of December on the shores of Praia Grande. Since Sao Paulo City is land-locked, many people decorate their cars with her image and colors and drive miles to Praia Grande beach to cast their offerings out to sea.
Since we weren’t able to see it for ourselves – here’s a beautiful photo-documentary of it by artist Baden Powell – taken this year:
If you’re not drinking a caipirinha in Brazil – then you’re drinking cerveja.
Brazil is the fourth largest beer market in the world. The country’s introduction to beer is said to have been made in the nineteenth century when the Germans were immigrating, which, by comparison to many other countries was a ‘late start’ for beer drinking…. but they’ve certainly made up for it since.
A few things to know: There’s ‘cerveja’ – which means ‘beer’ but primarily refers to bottles or cans. Then, there’s ‘chopp’ which refers to draft beer. If you order beer as a group in a restaurant you’ll receive one large garrafa (1 liter) in a plastic koozie. If you order beer independently of everyone at your table, you’ll receive a single, 12oz bottle. Either way, beer is served bem gelada – very cold. And, either way, if you order one that means you’ll be getting TWO to the table. They always present a second garrafa on ice as a convenient upsell… just an arms-length away when you finish your first. It worked like a charm, every time.
Most of Brazilian beer is pale lager, really light and have a sweeter aroma and taste. We tried Xingu, Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, and Kaiser. I’m personally a big fan of Brahma – which also happens to be a global favorite, ranking third. Next up – we’re hoping to try Bohemia Escuro which we’ve heard is a higher quality, darker variety.