You can smell it before you see it. The stench of fish warming in the hot air is everywhere, and soon enough you can see buckets of shrimp, big and small, come directly from Santa Catarina to Rio de Janeiro. Other smells of tangy fruit, fresh veggies and fried dough fill your nose too as you walk into the street the fair has been set up in. Barracks full of mangos, watermelons, figs, grapes, onions, garlic, carrots – all colourfully displayed along the street, every Saturday.
Men from each barrack try to sway you from buying from the others. They have the BEST PRICE for the BEST FRUIT. Doubt it? Here’s half a mango, here’s a piece of pineapple, take half this satsuma! It’s not a bidding war, but a delicious bidding party.
When I was younger, my favourite stand was the sweets one. But this was in a different fruit fair altogether in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, very far away from the fair I went to this morning. I used to beg my mum to take me so i could buy sweets – at the time I never realised the owners of the stands do some begging of their own.
Going to the weekly fair that is usually set up in your neighbourhood is a common activity for people in Brazil. The fruit is better than in the supermarket but more expensive – the quality of the fruit is a thousand times better so it’s worth it. After a few weeks of going to the same place, you pick your favourite stand to buy from. My parents buy from a picturesque man who was wearing a Flamengo shirt.
Football is always important in Brazil. No matter where you are you can see displays of team loyalty and harmony between them. For example, by the till of this stand there were two different football flags standing side by side.
The atmosphere is wonderful despite the grey skies threatening to rain and ruin all the stands. When the afternoon comes, they’ll pack up what’s left of their merchandise and come back next week.
Photos by Nicole Froio.