March 8, 2013

0546 BRAZIL (Bahia) - "Acarajé as Sold by Baianas", a Brazilian treasure

As I said in a previous post, because today, March 8, is the International Women's Day, I will post four postcards depicting women from four continents. If the first one was from Europe (Macedonia), and the second from Africa (Morroco), the third will be from Americas.

The Brazilian Institute of National Historic and Artistic Patrimony (IPHAN) decided that among the most precious of Brazil's historic, cultural and artistic treasures, together with paintings, buildings, palaces and churches, must to stand also some immaterial treasures (15 so far), like traditional dances, country fairs, methods of making lace, musical instruments, childrens games, and... some special food items. In 2004, IPHAN chose acarajé for this list, but not only the dish itself, but also the way that it is prepared, the traditional clothing of the baianas (the women who sell it on the streets of Salvador, Bahia, mainly in the Historic Centre, named in Portuguese Pelourinho), linked to the rituals of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé (about which I wrote here), and the customary layout of accompaniments on the baianas' streetside tables, called tabuleiros. The traditional costume of the baianas, consists of turban, starched skirt of colourful pattern, shawl over the shoulder - or tied to the breast - bracelets and necklaces, is a symbol of their social and religious status.

Acarajé is made from peeled black-eyed peas formed into a ball and then deep-fried in dendê (palm oil). It is served split in half and then stuffed with vatapá and/or caruru - spicy pastes made from shrimp, ground cashews, homemade hot pepper sauce, palm oil and other ingredients. As IPHAN says, this tradition "was brought to Brazil from Africa by black slaves during the colonial period, and has continued to this day. For most of its history, the technique of making acarajé was transmitted orally from generation to generation. (...) Over the passage of time, this food, which has a sacred origin associated with the divinities of Candomblé, came to symbolize for all sectors of Bahian society the integration of traditional foods in Bahian culture. (…) Acarajé, along with its associated foods such as abará, acaçá, fato, bolinho de estudante, cocada, bolos and mingaus, is sold today by baianas in places associated with those corners where freed slaves sold these foods in times of slavery. Today, the social groups from which these baianas come are either religious (filhas de santo), or commercial."

As a spicy detail, but at all tasty, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), under pressure from major sponsors such as McDonald’s, has persuaded the Brazilian government to ban the sale of street food within 2 kilometers of every stadium that will host matches within the 2014 World Cup. One of the banned foods is acarajé.

About all the three stamps I wrote here.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday #158, hosted on Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy. Click on the button below to visit all the other participants.

Acarajé - Wikipedia
Brazilian Black-Eyed Pea and Shrimp Fritters - Acarajé  -
A National Treasure - Baianas Selling Acarajé - Flavors of Brazil
Hamburgers or Acarajé? -

sender: Silvia Guerino (direct swap)
sent from São José do Rio Pardo (São Paulo / Brazil), on 21.01.2013
photo: Christian Fehr


  1. What an incredibly stunning postcard!!! The lady is beautiful--thank you for all the information you include, too. I know how much work that is!

    ((hugs)) Have a wonderful afternoon and happy PFF!

  2. I love the mixture of Bahia, its people, the colourfur spots. Here you can check it out:
    Salvador Brazil - Colorful Grit:

    Amazing aerial pics of Nilton Souza photographer:

    Bahia, land of samba, capoeira, unique food (acarajé, abará, vatapá, caruru, mugunzá, moqueca), colourful houses at Pelourinho, mixture of black+indians+white people. INCREDIBLE!

    What this Walt Disney 1943 movie: The Three Caballeros: (the Brazilian part starts at 22nd minute)

    Hugs from Bahia