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17 July 2013 / leggypeggy

Enjoying street food in Porto Seguro

Acarajé

An acarajé all dished up

Street food is popular all over Brazil but we made two new finds when we stopped in Porto Seguro, north of Rio.

We caught a local bus (the pickup point was just outside the fancy-schmancy campground where we were staying) and alighted early so we could visit the quaint and colourful old town.

Porto Seguro

Danny ducks out without buying a souvenir from one of the many shops in old Porto Seguro

Acarajé

Assembling an acarajé

Guidebooks recommend stopping at the old town IF you can make it up the many steps to the top. Good grief, what a bunch of wimps! It’s only 247 steps and they aren’t very steep anyway.

But the climb made Poor John hungry (breakfast had been at least 90 minutes earlier) so not far from the top of the stairs, he managed to sniff out our first acarajé stand.

Traditional to Brazil’s Bahia state (and West Africa where it came from originally), acarajé is a bun-like dish made from black-eye peas that are peeled, mashed, shaped into a ball and then deep-fried in palm oil. It’s then split in half and filled with a salad of red and green tomatoes (vatapá and caruru), fried shrimps, more palm oil and a hot pepper sauce.

This one seemed to have a couple of added extras that I couldn’t quite identify by appearance or taste. There were peas and green beans and ??? I confess, I didn’t buy one, but I inspected Poor John’s closely and helped myself to a big chomp too. No wonder acarajés are so popular—they really are delicious. A perfect balance of spices and reasonably healthy if you don’t think too much about the palm oil. And not too pricey at only $3.50 for a very generous serving.

Porto Seguro’s old town—oh yeah, I remember, we were there to sightsee, not eat—has been well maintained and has a great view over the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of souvenir shops, a couple of churches, a couple of turkeys (that was a surprise), some cheeky monkeys and even more food stalls.

We also discovered the back way in where busloads of tourists arrive without climbing the stairs.

Tapioca recheada

A tapioca recheada for lunch

About lunchtime, we found a stall selling tapioca recheadas. I can’t find out much about them, but watching them being made told me a lot. A recheada seems to be a tapioca pancake filled with sweet or savoury additions. So you can get banana and cheese, or meat with cheese and tomato.

I got one the seller recommended—with cheese, tomato, chicken and rocket (arugula or rucula in Portuguese). She tossed in the rocket simply because I showed an interest in it. Poor John got a sweet one. Another yummy discovery, that shouldn’t be too hard to recreate at home. I hope.

We also tasted juice from the cupuaçu, a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. The fruit can weigh up to two kilos and the juice tastes like pear with a hint of banana. The pulp is also used in desserts and cosmetics. I’m sure I’ve seen this fruit in other parts of the world, but maybe I just remembering it from our first overland trip in South America.

Oh, and Mario managed to throw in a tebow overlooking the Atlantic.

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11 Comments

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  1. Newton Froes / Jul 17 2013 8:00 am

    Hello Peggy. The trip is great for us that we follow here. Special attention ACARAJÉ, is a typical food of Africa, came to Brazil with the African slaves, is a typical food of the People of the Holy. People of the Holy are adpetos CANDONBLÉ a wonderful religion that worships and reveres God through their deities, the Orisha. And ACARAJÉ is actually> ACARA (food) + AJE (for HER) then> FOOD FOR HER. Which has been simplified to ACARAJÉ.

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    • leggypeggy / Jul 17 2013 11:07 am

      Hello Newton, I’m so glad you are enjoying the trip “with’ us. Thanks so much for the explanation about acarajé. The other day we had a walking tour of Salvador and our guide practices Candonblé. He told us a bit about the religion, but he never told us about the acarajé. So interesting.

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  2. Gary Walker / Jul 17 2013 11:27 am

    Excellent post! The woman handing you your tapioca recheada for lunch makes me smile. I live vicariously through your travel adventures.

    Mario “tebowing” rocks! I love that guy.

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    • leggypeggy / Jul 17 2013 11:35 am

      Her smile is sensational—in fact irresistible. And she was so nice to us. Never mind that she knew no English. Oh wait, I taught her the English word for rucula—namely rocket. 🙂
      Mario is a character. He and Poor John are on the same cook group.

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  3. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) / Jul 17 2013 12:01 pm

    G’day Peggy…JUST had brekkie, but am hungry still, true!
    Made me laugh re ALL of those stairs…I thought you were going to tell me it was the equivalent to the Great Wall of China too! lol
    Thanks for sharing your travels and food through your unique view!!

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    • leggypeggy / Jul 17 2013 8:26 pm

      I can recommend acarajé for the after breakfast hungries.
      After reading the guidebooks, I expected to see the Great Wall of Stairs but, nope, just 247.

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  4. vagabondurges / Jul 17 2013 5:41 pm

    Absolutely cruel! I am in a wee town in Malaysia so devoutly Muslim that they don’t have food available during the day (it’s Ramadan) and I ain’t going to no Kentucky Fried Chicken, no matter the country, and now you’ve gone and made my hunger angry!
    Thank you anyway, that all looks delicious!

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    • Gary Walker / Jul 17 2013 6:07 pm

      I’m gonna use the term ‘hunger angry’ often! I like it! 🙂

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      • vagabondurges / Jul 17 2013 6:11 pm

        : )

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      • leggypeggy / Jul 17 2013 8:46 pm

        We used to laugh at our French-speaking exchange students who dropped the ‘h’ on many words, so hungry and angry came out sounding almost the same. I’d say okay, are you ongry or angry? 🙂 I like this version too.

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    • leggypeggy / Jul 17 2013 8:28 pm

      Oops, sorry to do that to you, vagabondurges. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve lived through lots of Ramadans in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Indonesia, so at least I understand. I’ll try to hold off on the food posts until after Ramadan. We can’t have your hunger going around angry! 🙂

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