Monday, June 13, 2011

PHOTO GALLERY - Foods of the Gods

As promised last Saturday here at Flavors of Brazil, this is the first of two posts containing photographs from the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. These photographs accompanied a recent articla in that paper about the intimate connection between the rituals of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé as it is practiced in the state of Bahia, Brazil, and the state's much-lauded traditional cuisine. Many of the most well-known dishes of Bahian food come directly from Candomblé rituals, and other dishes are inspired by Candomblé.

Candomblé is an animistic and polytheistic religion, with a large pantheon of nature spirits or gods (known as Orixás or Orishas). Its rituals involve possession of the initiated by Orishas, offerings and sacrifices from the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. Rituals begin with the offerings and sacrifice. Then the initiates begin to dance and chant, accompanied by rhythmic percussion that gradually increases in intensity until one or more of the initiated becomes possessed by the spirit on an Orisha. In a trance state, the initiate who bears the spirit of the Orisha takes on the characteristic mannerisms and traits of the Orisha. At the end of the ritual, after the intensity and tension of the possessions, things become more relaxed, and the process ends with an elaborate feast for all participants. The feast usually includes dishes prepared from the animals that were sacrificed and offered to the Orishas.

Here is the first set of photos, with translations of the original captions by Flavors of Brazil. (Remember to click the photos to see them full-size.
Young Ney da Silva Barbosa, aged 9, with dishes of food from the candomblé temple Ile Axé Iba Lugan, headed by mother-of-saints Dona Jacira de Santana Miranda.
Plate of Acarajé: black-eyed pea fritters with shrimps cooked in dendê oil, prepared at the candomblé temple Ile Axé Iba Lugan, headed by mother-of-saints Dona Jacira de Santana Miranda
Mother-of-saints Dona Jacira de Santana Miranda, 60, makes food for the Orishas (for human consumption) at her candomblé temple in Salvador, Bahia.

Mother-of-saints Dona Jaciara Ribeiro cuts okra during preparation of foods of the gods at her temple Axé Abassa de Ogum, in Paripe, on the outskirts of Salvador.
In his Umbanda center in Cosme Faria (a suburb of Salvador) "Father" Raimundo Troccli adds honey to complete a dish of pumpkin cooked with tobacco leaves and acaça to be offered to the Orishá Cabloco.
Mother-of-saints Dona Jaciara Ribeiro preparing okra at her temple.
Mother-of-saints Dona Jaciara Ribeiro adds dendê oil to a dish for the gods.
Food preparation (fried yams and black-eyed peas with dried shrimps) at the temple.
Volunteers at "Father" Raimundo Troccli's Umbanda center serve food after a ritual offering of foods of the gods.
Shredded okra with shrimps, onions and dendê oil (lower right), pumpkin cooked with tobacco leaves, garnished with honey and acaça (upper right), white corn with honey, flower-blossom water and olive oil (lower right), black beans and shrimps, seasoned with onion and olive oil, garnished with acaça; all prepared to be offered to the gods at "Father" Raimundo's Umbanda center.
At the Umbanda center of "Father" Raimundo Troccli, a volunteer stirs a mixture of okra and shrimp, seasoned with onions and dendê.

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