Culture

Belém

James Oseland visits Belem, Brazil.

This northern Brazilian port city of nearly a million and a half is the gateway to the Amazon, the point at which rivers and ocean converge, where jungle foodways reveal themselves to the world beyond. Back to Belem »
Despite all the grand colonial edifices and modern skyscrapers, Belem has the feeling of a Wild West trading post. Back to Belem »
An all-night fish market sells salt water fish from the Atlantic and fresh water fish from the Amazon. Back to Belem »
Jambu flower buds are sold at the Ver-o-Peso market. Native to this part of Brazil, the vegetable is prized for its palate-numbing properties -- it's the Sichuan peppercorn of the Amazon. Back to Belem »
Folk religion potions for sale in the ombanda section of the Ver-o-Peso ("check the weight") market in Belem. Back to Belem »
Folk religion figurines and amulets are sold in the ombanda section of the Ver-o-Peso market. Back to Belem »
There's a massive section devoted entirely to dried shrimp at the Ver-o-Peso market. Back to Belem »
Vendors at the salted fish market. Back to Belem »
A woman enjoys a lunch of steamed mud crabs with rice and beans at the Ver-o-Peso market. Back to Belem »
The sale of açai berries, starts every day at around 3 A.M. and runs until dawn. Back to Belem »
A vendor sells açai pulp. Many Americans have recently embraced the tiny purple "superfruit" as an antioxidant supplement; in this part of Brazil, it's a staple food. Back to Belem »
Toasted cassava flour, farinha de mandioca, is used in many local dishes. Back to Belem »
Tacaca, a soup that combines tucupi, a broth made of fermented cassava juice, with dried-shrimp stock, is sold by street vendors throughout the city. Back to Belem »
Eating Tacaca, with its silky texture, fiery, floral chiles, and saline flavor of the the shrimp, is like slurping down the essence of this hot and enigmatic city. Back to Belem »

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