On the first Saturday of each month, the Portela Samba School in Rio de Janeiro hosts one of the best parties in town. Aside from offering copious amounts of feijoada, a traditional stew of beans, salt-cured pork, and dried beef served with shredded collard greens, garlic rice, and orange slices, the school's feijoada parties invite students and the general public alike to come drink and dance the night away. While I had known about this recurring event for years, I had never actually been. So on a recent Saturday afternoon I gathered some friends and headed to Portela to see what I'd been missing. There we found thousands of our fellow countrymen and -women dancing joyously in a cavernous covered hall, as other equally joyous spectators sat on chairs or simply the floor, balancing paper plates of feijoada on their laps. As I savored my own plateful, I took in the revelry surrounding me. It was then I was reminded of why this—my hometown—remains my favorite place on Earth.
Rua Clara Nunes 81, Madureira