Text andPhotos:Rapha Aretakis
The Ver-o-peso Market, in Belém do Pará – northern region of Brazil -, is one of the most remarkable public market of the country and undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction of the city. To make a trip to Belém count and, for understanding more the city’s dynamic, culture and worldwide-recognized gastronomy, its visitation is mandatory. The Ver-o-peso building was built in 1625 and lies on the shores of the Bay of Guajará, strategic location for the unloading of fishing boats and Açaí, which docks there in the early morning, before the sun comes up. To the most curious travelers, it is worth getting out of bed early (or not fall asleep at all) and closely follow this ritual of Pará’s dawn.
Starting from another interesting point of the city, the Docks Station, at first you are faced with the tents of ready to eat foods: maniçoba, açaí in the bowl with fried fish, crab meat coxinha – typical brazilian kind of dumpling –, tacacá, juices and another infinity of delights that will get your attention and awake your hunger. Going through the corridors a little more, we arrive at the stalls of region’s handicraft, items made of ceramics, straw and seeds, a unique creativity. Following the tour we find fruits, vegetables, herbs and typical ingredients of the city: Brazil nuts, shrimp and fish salted, tucupi and flours of all kinds abound.
The blue building, which is the market itself, houses a vast number of booths selling fishes in natura. Fishes, of course, from the many rivers of northern portion of the country. For those who, as myself, love shrimp, the Ver-o-peso is like heaven on Earth, as it has it in abundance! The smell in that part of the market is very strong and on the outside, where most of the boats are docked, too. Add this to the relentless heat of Belém, the smell is even more pronounced, but do not back off, go ahead, passing from box to box, admiring the Amazonian fishes and all other for sale items.
Lastly, the whole area of the Ver-o-peso – considered the largest outdoor fair in Latin America –, is a true amusement park for those willing to know flavors, colors, textures and scents of a culture with such a strong personality as from Pará.
Rapha Aretakis is a travel writer and creator of the travel website Raphanomundo. Born in Recife – northeast of Brazil, believes that the world is too big to stand at one place only. She lives now in Curitiba after spending some springs in Stuttgart, Berlin and Sao Paulo.