Market Day In Rio

Tuesday morning which means we’re off to the farmers’ market in Praça General Osorio, Ipanema.  I love going to markets whenever I travel, markets in Dublin, Madrid, Stockholm, Thessaloniki and of course, Rio de Janeiro.  I’m planning on cooking with local fish and have my sights set on Namorado.  Namorado in its dictionary form means boyfriend or sweetheart and comes from the verb namorar, meaning to have an amorous relationship.  Why does this particular fish receive that name?  As Gabriela suggests, maybe it has nice lips.

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Vendors and their canopies surround a playground and hawk their wares.  Our first item on the list directs us to row after row of vegetables.  I’m going to blanch and sauté greens for a bit of Southern Foodways addition to the Namorado, and as I walk the market and read Brazilian recipes, I discover food traditions shared by Gullah, Creole, Caribbean and Bahian cultures.  All meaning, West Africa is one of the sources of this cooking, as well as the use of New World vegetables.  Collard greens and spinach fill the basket.

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Ripe, red tomatoes and onions fill a number of bins and colorfully announce the beauty of fresh produce.  But what of o peixe?

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Fish stands ripple throughout the market.  With one of the largest coastlines in the world, the Brazilian seafood industry is large and diverse with over 970,000 registered fishermen working the ocean, rivers and lakes.  Linguado (Flounder), Salmão (salmon from Chile) Cherne (Grouper) and Camarão (shrimp) line the way.

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Scattered throughout the market are smaller tables featuring sardines ready for a recipe like Sardinhas Portuguesa.  However, with Brazil’s high consumption of seafood (produced within borders and imported) four popular fish are threatened with extinction: the sardine, hake, grouper, and the redspotted shrimp.  As with many other places in the world, Shopping for seafood involves difficult decisions, throughout choices, and an agricultural and ethical approach to what one buys.  I pass by the sardines.

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I have found the sweetheart I’ve been looking for, o namorado.  The Boyfriend Fish” is a popular deep-water choice in Brazil and according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has a stable population and is of least concern; and at sixty real, that’s twenty dollars for a large, whole fish–done!

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I’m planning on cooking Bahian dishes so shrimp is a must–head and shell still on in order to make a rich stock.

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Of course, when in Brazil fruit is also on the menu–lychee, mango, grapes, watermelon, plums, peaches, persimmons, jabuticaba (thick-skinned berry), fruta-do-conde, papaya, and more.

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We also look for sweets and are not disappointed: fruit preserves, goiabada, tapioca and corn flours, cheese.

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How about a tapioca pancake for Demian?

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Shopping done, it’s time to go home, stock the goods, then go back out and head for the beach–after all, we are in Ipanema.  Bon Appétit!

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