On my first day in Salvador, I went to meet Stacey at the beach near Porto de Barra.  Zequinha offered to go with me on the bus,  and once we arrived I told her I saw my friends laying out so she didn`t need to wait.  She admitted to me later that she hung around to make sure I actually met them, which was so sweet.  This was just one small thing amongst many that she did for me – she was always looking to help me in every way possible, to take me to see interesting places to photograph, to eat great food, to show me the amazing music scene in Salvador, her effort to welcome me into her city and show me the best time was endless.

Porto de Barra beach in Salvador

Her niece, Carla, was also eager to show me all that she loved about Bahiana culture.  Full of life and energy, and a very talented samba and salsa dancer, she took our new friend Naseef (introduction: very easy-going and friendly Scot that Stacey met at her hostel and who has become a great friend and my travel companion in Recife) and I out in the Pelourinho (historical center) one night and to hear some amazing samba music and was always willing to drive us to see different sites.

It became very clear right from the beginning that so much of Brazilian culture is centered around eating (hence why I don’t want to leave this country!)

Mouth-watering meal of Moqueca on Ilha Itaparika

I have become quite a big fan of the huge lunches they eat, instead of the biggest meal being at dinner time, and being a celiac it is surprising how many bread-like products here are not made with wheat.   Manioc flour and queijo coalho are two things I have come to realize I cant live without!  There is a word in Portuguese “farra” that basically means to get together with friends to eat, drink, party and enjoy.  Funny how there is no English translation.  I spent all of Sunday doing this – laying on a beach chair, soaking up sun and not moving a muscle to drink caipirinhas and coconut water.  It was one of the most relaxing days I have had in a long time.

On to the food – there are some amazing foods specific to the Bahia region that I have had a chance to try – Zequinha, her son Antonio, and her niece Carla took me and Naseef to eat Acaraje at a famous place in Rio Vermehlo, a neighborhood not far from where I was staying.  Acaraje is a bit hard to describe, so I am now wishing that I brought the cord to my camera so that I could post a picture and do it justice.  But here goes – the bread-like part of Acaraje is made with crushed dried shrimp, cashews, a root vegetable, and a bit of bread and then deep fried in palm oil.  Inside goes dried shrimp, this yellow sauce made from coconut milk, celery, and some spicy sauce.  I could have eaten one every day while in Salvador, and the smell wafting from the frying pans of Bahiana women in the streets will forever remind me of this place.