Seja bem vindo la na Bahia….glad to be back

I have been back in Brazil a little over a month and things seem good. I have found housing, albeit temporary. A handmade artist built house surrounded by a lovely garden in Itapua, minutes from the beach and a share in grad student housing in Cachoeira. Que bom sorte tinha eu.

I have begun renovating my old contacts with mentors, colleagues and friends…as well as building new ones.

I have had the opportunity to observe several festas, deemed sagrada. They may be at, near or in the church, but they aren’t considered of it. Including a Lavagem de Bonfim and its sacred capitulatory festival, A Festa dos Mares, where the iconic crucifix from Bonfim, cum Portugal is transported from there to A Igreja dos Mares [Church of Tides] and then a Procession brings it back after the final Sunday Mass. Uniquely no food was available along the parade route other than water and refrescantes, soda. Yet, when we got to the Igreja de Bonfim and had to process three times around the church and its plaza before entering in for a mass, the Baianas de Acarajé were awaiting us to serve up their victuals.

The missing component were the Candomblé practitioners and Espiritistas who perform limpezas with white corn, folhas, sacred herbs, agua de cheiro, etc….

But we had our time to pray again for the 3 most important desires we had for this new year and intone them on each circuit of the final procession.

I was brought to one of the 4 day outdoor, multi-stage arena shows of regional & MPB music, A Festa de Verao…including Ivete [argh…]. One interesting twist she produced was a faux version of A Festa da 15 anos comecando com a Valsa Debutante. Analagous to the Spanish/Latino Quinze Primaveras a young girl’s family throws her a ‘ball’ or party to present her to society. It begins with a waltz where her father is her partner. She obviously is as dressed to the 9’s as possible. Her brothers then dance with her one by one. Shades of incest, no? … anyway in this version Baiano, her ‘brothers’ were the venerable elder statesmen and super stars of the local MPB, regional, pop and folkloric scene. All dressed in tuxedos and masked to hide their real identities…until she revealed whose shoulders she stands on. Her real brothers are grossly obese and her father died young from a similar affliction. Her standins included: Gilberto Gil, Carlinhos Brown, Dodo e Osma, the resident prince of hiphop, rap, etc.

This was not the main draw for me though. What made it worth the price of the ticket and a reason to regress to my adolescence with 50,000 local late tweens, teens, post adolescents and aging hipsters was the performance of identity in the presentation of regional foods over fast foods. Yes, Subway was on hand. As well as the ubiquitous hamburgeur, and Pepsi, a major event sponsor. Along with Skol beer. But what dominated were: Baianas de Acarajé with well appointed barracas, [food stalls] festooned with banners that included a photo of the principal chef, food and invitations to arrange pvt parties. For the first time the Churrasco was only Camarao, shrimp. There were Beijo, local doces, sweets, Agua de Coco and Feijoada. This event lasts for 4 nights, beginning at 7:00pm and lasting until 4:00 am. Yup. I went on the same day as A Lavagem de Bonfim. Images and references were made to the Lavagem, pipoca, [popcorn-a purifying product], etc.  This really made it real for me. So its been a good start so far. To wrap up, in the first month I have written and mailed off 4 grant applications to cover the cost of this trip. Cross your fingers for me…

pics to follow!

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About senorokra

ABD-Food Studies PhD candidate NYU African Diaspora foodways Sacred and profane cookery black culture music-folkloric, jazz, samba, mambo, tango & on-and-on... photo, film
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