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Music, culture and gastronomy in Salvador de Bahia

Salvador de Bahía Special Guide. 18-Oct-2010 .Traveler Oliveira
Salvador de Bahía is a unique place in terms of culture, here a review of its main cultural brands

Salvador de Bahía has remarkable beauty beaches in its surroundings, especially those of Morro de São Paulo , Boipeba and Barra Grande to the south, and to the north Arembepe or Praia do Forte; but its main attraction as a destination goes through the cultural and historical, having been the first capital of Brazil(in colonial times) and the spectacular old architecture of its historic center, whose most famous area: the Pelourinho >, is a unique set of colorful houses and baroque churches, arranged between the successive natural levels of the city, creating an urban landscape that is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and known in the world, declared a world heritage site as well.

Gilberto Gil tocando en fiesta de São João - Salvador de Bahía
Gilberto Gil tocando en fiesta de São João - Salvador de Bahía
photo by Patrick Silva - CC 2.0 by-sa

Music

Bahia's influence on Brazilian popular music is overwhelming: the bossa nova , the samba , the Brazilian Rock, the forró , the < em> axé ... Everything started or needed from Bahians to then go around the world after passing through Rio de Janeiro. It is no coincidence that part of the best Brazilian popular musicians in history are Bahians: Joao Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, the pioneer of Brazilian rock Raul Seixas, the great Dorival Caymmi, the group of 70 Novos Bahianos and his great album "Acabou Chorare", which was considered recently by specialists as the best and most influential of Brazilian music of all time.

Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
photo by maccosta - CC 2.0 by

The causes of so much cultural and musical richness can only be explained in the diversity of a multicultural city as there is no other in Brazil or in the world, a city that is both province and capital and has taken the best of everything He passed and disembarked in his huge bay. It is here where indigenous, African and European mixtures have reached their peak of wealth. In Bahia, Brazil was also born when the Portuguese came into contact with the indigenous people of the region, and that is why the map of the state of Bahia resembles a miniature Brazil.

Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía 2010
Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía 2010
photo by agecombahia - CC 2.0 by

Musical links with some Caribbean countries are also important, with Jamaica through reggae, and with Cuba through African influence: highly recommended in that sense is the excellent documentary by Fernando Trueba, "El Milagro de Candeal" that shows the great Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés on a musical tour through Salvador de Bahía and the common roots of the two peoples, a mixed cultural heritage, mainly African and Iberian, that has given world music notable artists.

Bahianas del Bloco Ilê Aiyê desfilando en el carnaval de Bahía
Bahianas del Bloco Ilê Aiyê desfilando en el carnaval de Bahía
photo by agecombahia - CC 2.0 by

It is a common place when talking about Bahia, but you can not forget the influence of Jorge Amado in the dissemination of this land, through novels such as "Doña Flor and her two husbands" and especially his famous film version, many We had the first image and reference about Bahia and its beautiful Pelourinho ; today his work is remembered in the Jorge Amado House Foundation, a museum about his work located in the heart of Pelourinho( View on satellite map ).

Iglesia del Sagrado Sacramento en el Pelourinho
Iglesia del Sagrado Sacramento en el Pelourinho
foto de brasilplayas.com - CC by-nc-nd

Hundreds of ancient churches

Salvador de Bahía must undoubtedly be the place with the highest density of Catholic Churches in the world, it is said that there are 365, one for each day of the year, personally I do not think they are exactly 365, I think they can even be more: only in the Pelourinho the amount sometimes becomes difficult to understand: in Terreiro de Jesus ( View on satellite map ) For example, there are 3 churches around the same plaza, and in a radius of 100 meters there are at least 5, mostly of colonial baroque architecture, with all its facades highlighting the passage of time, and most of which image is iconographic of the city, like the beautiful Church of São Francisco( View on satellite map ) & nbsp; preceded by a stone cross; or Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos in full Largo do Pelourinho ( View on satellite map ), with its presence on the right side of one of the most photographed and famous views of the neighborhood.

Iglesia de São Francisco en el Pelourinho
Iglesia de São Francisco en el Pelourinho
photo by letocarvalho - CC 2.0 by

Towards the end of the Pelourinho is the Church/ Convento do Carmo ( View on satellite map ) a Impressive architectural complex of the 16th century that occupies a whole block, the convent was now transformed into a luxury hotel while maintaining the historic facade. The church can be visited.

Interior de la Iglesia do Senhor do Bonfim
Interior de la Iglesia do Senhor do Bonfim
photo by BenjaminThompson - CC 2.0 by-sa

There are countless other churches in the Pelourinho , and it is always interesting to enter them and investigate their ins and outs.

Largo de Pelourinho e iglesia - Salvador de Bahía
Largo de Pelourinho e iglesia  - Salvador de Bahía
photo by tchola - CC 2.0 by-nd

Out of the Pelourinho , the Senhor do Bonfim ( View on satellite map ) , 18th century, it is perhaps the most important church of all those in Bahia, from where the famous little ribbons with the legend: "lembrança do senhor do Bonfim"(remembrance of the Lord of Bonfim), come to everyone who passed through Salvador they have given him some time, and it is on his steps that(in January) one of the most important religious festivals of the city ends: the party of Lavagem do Bonfim , a party at the end of a procession of several kilometers, which mixes Catholic and African traditions, something that is common in Bahian religiosity. As in the party of Yemanjá on February 2, we must be dressed in white if we want to be at peace with the orixás that could be said to be equivalent to the Catholic saints.

Las bahianas y el acarajé
Las bahianas y el acarajé
photo by BenjaminThompson - CC 2.0 by-sa

Ilê Aiyê, Olodum and the Afro blocos

A very common tourist attraction in Salvador are the Olodum rehearsals, this very famous percussion group usually makes their rehearsals in the Pelourinho , charging tickets of between 15 and 30 reais. And even if you do not pay to enter one of these rehearsals, just walking through the streets of Pelourinho on Tuesday nights puts you in the middle of a world where percussion and African rhythms are omnipresent. On Tuesday nights at Pelourinho, they have the movement of Friday nights or Saturdays in any other city in the world .

Bahiana en fiesta de Yemanjá de Rio Vermelho
Bahiana en fiesta de Yemanjá de Rio Vermelho
photo by agecombahia - CC 2.0 by

Those who want an experience similar to the Olodum trials but more authentic, can go to the Curuzú neighborhood and see the Ilê Aiyê bloc .

The neighborhood of Curuzú is the one with the highest concentration of black population in Salvador, and the birthplace of the best and oldest Bloco Afro . It's about Ilê Aiyêe , an impressive group of percussion and African tradition, you have to see them and be present there in their cultural center in the Curuzú neighborhood to see them in all their dimensions . I saw the Ilê Aiyêe in Curuzú in January 2007 and you can not believe their sound, demolishing and synchronized, seeing them after walking down the street of Curuzú is the closest we can get to Africa in the Americas.

You can check the Ilê Aiyê website for essays and upcoming group presentations in its cultural center called "Senzala do barro preto", located in the neighborhood of Curuzú on the street of the same name( View on satellite map ), the ticket prices are around 10 reals and when I went(in 2007) they were bought in the place.

Bahian cuisine and the acajia bahianas

A symbol of Bahia and Salvador are the bahianas of Acarajé, so are the women who cook and sell in street stalls in Salvador this traditional Bahian dish that is almost the main fast food of the city. The acarajé consists of a dough made of bean flour(or beans in Argentina) fried and then stuffed with shrimp and vatapá (a kind of traditional Bahian fish-based pasta) , nuts and coconut milk) and served as a sandwich in a bag or on the plate in places with tables.

A classic of Bahian cuisine that can not be overlooked if we want to know the flavor of bay in its most basic form and without spending a lot of money. The most famous acarajé stands are in Rio Vermelho in Itapuã , although Acarajé bahianas are found all over the city, dressed in their traditional white dresses, their necklaces, their handkerchiefs in their hair and your pots on the table.

The most famous bahianas and Acarajé stalls: Dinha , deceased 2 years ago and icon of Rio Vermelho neighborhood( See on satellite map ) that continues through its descendants; and the acarajé of Cira, with posts in Itapuã and also in Río Vermelho.

There are many others scattered throughout the city, but I have not tried them, and they can also eat Acarajés in some restaurants although it is clear that it is not the same.

The price of a acarajé in Salvador is approximately 4 reais(about $ 2.50).

This street culinary activity so traditional of bay was regulated by the municipality since 1998.

Moqueca

Another of the Bahian dishes par excellence is the moqueca de peixe ; if in Rio de la Plata gastronomy and in southern Brazil, grilled meats are taken to exaggerated extremes; In Bahia, on the other hand, the moqueca of fish from Bahia is the end of what can be done based on seafood. It depends a lot on who makes it and how, but I have participated in the elaboration of an authentic moqueca bahiana homemade, and I believe that I have never seen so many varieties of fish together in the same pot, to which also in some cases shrimp is added; the base of its flavor, in addition to the seafood, is given by the traditional condiments of Bahian cuisine such as dendê oil and coconut milk. It is recommended to eat it in a good restaurant or homemade with a good Bahian cook.

Maniçoba

While this indigenous dish is more typical of a much more northeastern region such as the state of Pará(at the mouth of the Amazon) is also very common especially in the interior of the bay; I have eaten it in Salvador in the neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, in a bar/restaurant/cultural space called "casa da mae" in front of the beach of Río Vermelho and very close to the Largo de Santana ( see more about Río Vermelho ). It consists of a dish with previously ground and cooked cassava leaves, along with pork and beef seasoned very Brazilian-style, onion, garlic, pepper: a delight.

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Gilberto Gil tocando en fiesta de São João - Salvador de Bahía
Gilberto Gil tocando en fiesta de São João - Salvador de Bahía
Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía 2010
Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía 2010
Bahianas del Bloco Ilê Aiyê desfilando en el carnaval de Bahía
Bahianas del Bloco Ilê Aiyê desfilando en el carnaval de Bahía
Iglesia del Sagrado Sacramento en el Pelourinho
Iglesia del Sagrado Sacramento en el Pelourinho
Iglesia de São Francisco en el Pelourinho
Iglesia de São Francisco en el Pelourinho
Interior de la Iglesia do Senhor do Bonfim
Interior de la Iglesia do Senhor do Bonfim
Largo de Pelourinho e iglesia - Salvador de Bahía
Largo de Pelourinho e iglesia  - Salvador de Bahía
Las bahianas y el acarajé
Las bahianas y el acarajé
Bahiana en fiesta de Yemanjá de Rio Vermelho
Bahiana en fiesta de Yemanjá de Rio Vermelho

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