Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
Shrimps, mussels, roasted cheese, and oysters on the beaches in Salvador.
Monday, July 24, 11 am.
Almost everyone had some kind of problem after the uncomfortable nights in the bus. The next morning, most travel companions tried their best not to get up early. At the pousada, we could complain about the cold showers, about the lack of internet connection (even when it was guaranteed!), and the scantiness of the breakfast. But about one thing we all agreed: we liked the thick mattresses. Usually the mattresses are much less than 10 centimeters thick and appear old and worn. But these mattresses were thicker than 10 centimeters and were very compact. Hooray!
U2 and Rolling Stones
Like I said, our breakfast was a bit too simple, for the price of 2 reais (70 eurocents). The breakfast consisted of coffee, two bread rolls with cheese or ham or processed meat, and one piece of fruit. The Mexican owner had a strong preference for the music of U2 and the Rolling Stones, and had two DVDs with live recordings of their concerts in Brazil. Rolling Stones on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, and U2 in the immense Morumbi stadium. He also had some DVDs with Brazilian music. At ten am, he started to get the rest of us awake with one of these DVDs, while he turned on the volume. His act had effect. The others left their rooms with sleepy faces, and went for their breakfast.
It was decided to visit Itapuã Beach that day. This beach is located just north of Salvador, and is one of the most popular among tourists. At 11 am, all of us had taken a shower, shaved ourselves, and were dressed up. We walked to Barra Beach, were we took the bus to Itapuã. We had to wait a while for the bus, which gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of Barra Beach.
Strong, sick stomachs
Please do not expect that I took pictures of the girls in string bikinis. I am more interested in taking pictures of the beach life. The vendors that are wandering like drunken ants on the beach, in the hope to sell some of their merchandise. And yet with some success… While you may meet market stalls of fish, French fries, and ice cream on Dutch beaches, which the owners have to complete some pile of documents and probably have to pay quite some money to get a permit to sell, the Brazilian way is much simpler. The vendors do not strictly obey rules of the Health Department, which means that you accept their merchandise at your own risk. Brazilian stomachs appear to be somewhat resistant to the violent attacks of microbes that inevitably must be present in the food offered on the beach. However, a significant proportion of the Brazilian population suffers gastrointestinal problems. If I remember one news item, more than two thirds of the population suffers some stomach or intestinal disease. In some way I can imagine that, when you consider that the Brazilian cuisine includes certain dishes that require a strong stomach. Certainly, the spicy Bahian cuisine. One advice for foreigners: please leave the pimento (red pepper) bottle on the table, and do not touch the mayonnaise bottle.
Mussels and shrimps
And what do these beach vendors offer? In the episode about Olivença Beach, I had mentioned cooked mussels. Also very popular are skewers of grilled shrimps. Concerning the size you can consider them as prawns. They are delicious, with a bit of fresh lime juice. Another advice for foreigners: please avoid contact of the skin with lime juice, since lime juice may accelerate sun burns. As a white foreigner I was warned by the group all the time, that is why I still remember it. These shrimps are not peeled, but they are still intact with head, tail, and paws. Generally, no one bothers to peel them before consuming them. That means that you do not spend time and effort to peel them, and that you chew the tiny black eyes, the crispy tails, paws and shields. One or two days later, these tough parts will have left your body anyway.
Roasted cheese and sweets
They also offer roasted cheese. I had tasted that the night before, just before going to the faculty. Many vendors offer roasted cheese. Perhaps you need to be cautious with the cheese, because it is exposed to the sun all day, and has to endure high temperatures. The roasting procedure above charcoal certainly will not kill all bacteria.
Sweets, based on coco, are also popular. This stuff is manufactured as flat cakes in different flavors, and is extremely sweet. But it is really delicious and dangerously addictive! They are that sweet that bacteria simply ignore them. But be aware of the very little ants, which have a strong preference for anything that contains sugar…
The vendors also offer nuts. Cashew nuts, and peanuts, still in their red peels. For me it was remarkable that they offered another delicacy at Barra Beach. A much respected delicacy in The Netherlands: fresh oysters. I have to admit that I had never eaten them before. Normally, oysters are simply too expensive. We were able to buy eleven fresh oysters for only five reais (about 2 euros). The original price was eight oysters for five reais. Igor had done his best to obtain more than the vender was offering. He offered me some of these oysters. With fresh lime. Yes, I had to be careful with my skin. I emptied the shell, sucked the oyster from it. The bright, slimy stuff slipped inside. It tasted surprisingly good! And it was wonderfully cheap! I tried more oysters, since we ordered another portion from this vendor. In total, I had consumed six fresh oysters. It was about noon, on a sunny winter day in Salvador. My stomach did not show any protest, these oysters have proven to be safe.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator
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