Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saveur Magazine visits Marajó

Although the article appeared last month in the print edition of Saveur magazine, an American food and wine publication, Saveur's online edition has only recently been updated to include a wonderful article by noted Brazilian food writer Neide Rigo on the gastronomy of Marajó Island, the Switzerland-sized island that is sits right at the mouth of the Amazon River.

Neide Rigo is a perfect host for a journey to Marajó. Based in São Paulo, she has traveled the length and breadth of Brazil is search of exotic fruits, interesting grains and traditional recipes that are on the verge of extinction. Her blog Come-Se is probably the most highly-regarded and one of the most well-read food blogs in Brazil, and she has made regular appearances at gastronomic trade shows and expositions, on TV and radio and contributed to magazines and reviews.

For the Saveur article, she took the magazine's editor, James Olesand, on an exedition to discover the foodways of Marajó. A sample from the article:

Invariably, such visits become meals. On this part of the island, fishing and cattle ranching drive the local economy, and my hosts pull together extravagant dishes that speak to the bounty of Marajó's rivers or ranches, or both: casquinha de caranguejo, stuffed crabs strewn with butter-fried cassava flour; filé Marajoara, meltingly tender fillets of buffalo steak seared in a skillet and topped with slabs of queijo do Marajó, sweet, soft buffalo milk cheese that melt luxuriously over the meat; sombremesa de banana com queijo, a layered, luscious dessert of sliced banana and queijo do Marajó drenched in sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled with cinnamon. The Amazon forest harbors ingredients that just don't exist elsewhere in Brazil, and I savor the impossible-seeming flavors that the island gives in abundance. There's a tree, cipó-d'álho (garlic bush), growing outside of the Britos' kitchen that smells of garlic and, interestingly, bacon; the leaves bring a smoky-savory depth to everything from soups to grilled foods. Another morning, at the market in Soure, I'm served a bowl of pork stew that's been simmered with aromatics and jambú, a wild cress that gently, pleasantly numbs the mouth in much the same way that Sichuan peppercorn does. I eat it with rice and beans, noting its layers upon layers of flavor. The tingling sensation of the jambú stays with me after I've drained the bowl.

The article is accompanied by photos taken by James Olesand and is well worth the short time it takes to read. You can find the whole article by clicking here.

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