The beach: Brazil’s playground

The beach: Brazil’s playground

By
Fernanda de Paula, Shelley Hepworth
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742706801
Photographer
Stuart Scott

Brazil has 7,491 km of coastline where pristine white sand meets the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, crossing seventeen states from north to south. Brazilians never miss an opportunity for fun, so the beach is part of the lifestyle – a social event. You go to meet new people, have a drink, listen to music and play sports such as footvolley. As always, food is an essential part of the equation.

At city beaches, deckchairs and umbrellas are set up as temporary bars with table service for drinks. Food vendors nonchalantly patrol the sand carting mobile cooktops, often with ear-splitting music blaring from built-in speakers. They stop every now and then to fill an order for barbecued prawn skewers, piping hot coalho cheese or grilled corn with butter, and it’s easy to lose yourself for hours, being awoken from your reverie by fellow beach-goers applauding the sunset, or by the (sometimes nasty) surprise of the bill.

Brazilians are a friendly bunch, so it’s easy to make a new friend or ten as the social groups around you merge into one big party. There has long been an unhealthy divide between rich and poor in Brazil, and sometimes the contrast is unsettling. The beach is one place where people from different classes come together.

The beach can also be a spectacle, a people-watching haven. Brazilians are generally comfortable in their skins and it’s not unusual to see a tiny swimming costume on an elderly man or a micro bikini on a large lady. This is all part of everyday life. To blend in, avoid wearing shoes or long-sleeved tops – just grab your swimmers and a sarong, and you’re ready to go. Costumes may look like they shrank in the clothes dryer, but no matter how small the piece of fabric, it always covers the essentials. Going topless is not only a major taboo, it’s also illegal and considered obscene.

Impromptu games of beach football are common and so is a relatively new sport that combines aspects of football and volleyball. It’s known as footvolley and it originated in Copacabana in 1965 when football was banned on the beaches. Desperate players would take a football to the volleyball courts to disguise the game. A highly skilful sport that requires perfect ball control, it has since been taken up by professional footballers as an intense form of training.

While most urban beaches are buzzing, some spots on the coast remain quiet fishing villages that have survived the hunger of property development, and it feels like time has been suspended. Others, such as Natal’s Ponta Negra beach, cohabit with the tourist culture that has sprung up around it. Here fishermen are still working old-style in wooden sail boats called jangadas. After the day’s work at sea, they sell their catch to local distributors or food vendors. Real estate pressures, which grew during the 1960s, continue today, making the future of this fishing culture uncertain. Still, thousands of these fishermen remain scattered across the coast, supplying a notable portion of the seafood that is consumed in the country.

The most surprising of Brazil’s beaches lie thousands of kilometres from the coast, right in the middle of the Amazon. River beaches in the city of Manaus are popular among locals, who frequent the powdery white sands to escape the jungle heat. The Amazon River is so wide that these beaches resemble ocean beaches, but the caiman warnings are a good reminder that the rainforest isn’t far away.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again