It is impossible to talk about Rio de Janeiro without talking about the food, the flora, and the fun atmosphere on the streets. We don’t have all day, with a need to keep it short, I’ll give you one example of each that I think SAYS Brazil.
You cannot order Brazilian food in a restaurant without having farofa (toasted manioc meal or coarse flour - farinha de mandioca torrada) coming as a side. Brazilians eat it with all kinds of carne, (churrasco), with beans and rice (Feijoada) and with the soups and stews from the north like Bobó de Camarão. At first taste, it taste like what you would expect sawdust to taste, but over time, mixed with the juice of the meat or mixed into rice, it soon become something you enjoy with your meal. Sometimes it is served plain but more often (and my favorite / how I make it) is mixed with herbs, butter, sautéed onion and scrambled egg. this is how it is served at our favorite picanha place in Rio.
The streets in Ipanema are lined with tall, old, twisted, hairy looking trees. The majority of these are a common species of ficus. Don’t you love that sentence? I don’t know which species they are, and all my tree reference books are in Friburgo. I am so not scientific in my thinking so they are FICUS. According to Wikipedia, ... “Ficus (pronounced /ˈfɪkʊs/) is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs” ... I read in a museum here, long, long time ago – that there are 167 species of Ficus in Rio. I do know that these trees lend a unique look to our area of town and shade the streets from the hot summer sun. One species turns interesting shades of red and drops leaves during the winter months.
And last but in no way the least are the Feiras na Ruas – street fairs. In Ipanema, there are both craft fairs and huge vegetable and fruit markets, with trucks selling sea food and spices and other much needed good things. One veggie market is about two blocks from our apartment on Monday mornings and is the best market. On Tuesday, it is on the other end of the barrio at Praça General Osório, and on Fridays it in the Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz – (our lady of peace – don’t you love it!)
The Arts & Crafts market also in the Praça General Osório on Sunday mornings – is a must see if you visit Rio. (sorry no photos)