Arriving in Macieó

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June 29th 2008
Published: July 8th 2008
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Me on the beachMe on the beachMe on the beach

Dad took this cute one, I look like my mom!
We arrived in Maceió late this morning from São Paulo. Maceió is a mid-size city on the northeastern coast, north of Salvador and south of Fortaleza. Apparently none of the U.S.-published guidebooks consider it worth mentioning. Brazilians and Europeans, however, have long traveled here for its location, amazing beaches to the north and south of the city, the food, and its not-overly-urban character. At least the beach part feels like a sleepy beach town with cabanas lining the shore and coconut palms sticking out of the sand.

Maceió is an old city with buildings and churches dating back to colonial times. It is the capital of the state of Alagoas, a long skinny state that can be traversed by from coast to interior border in one day. Lots of influential politicians come from Alagoas - and lots of corrupt ones, too. The first democratically elected president, Fernando Collor de Mello, hails from Alagoas. He was impeached for corruption which included freezing Brazilians’ bank accounts, purportedly to stop rapid inflation (which did help, somewhat) but which ended up filtering people’s savings into his and his friends’ personal accounts. He was reelected to the national Congress in 2006. Another politician, Renan Calheiros, was the president of the Senate until late 2007, when he stepped down due to ethics investigations. New York Times' take on it He was accused, among other things, of using a lobbyist contributions to pay child support to his girlfriend, well-known reporter Monica Veloso, for their love child.

The food here is awesome, and I’m sure it is only going to get better. Today we wandered down the beach and stopped at a restaurant a few blocks up called Peixerão (super big fish) and had their signature house dish, a whole fish cooked with shrimp sauce thickened with coconut milk, served with rice and farofa, or toasted manioc meal. Pureed potatos were piped around the edge of the serving dish. Starving as we were, we gobbled everything up without taking any pictures! I will try to restrain myself from now on. There is also a regional specialty called tapioca, which is a sort of flour made from dried, ground manioc. It is bleach white and when heated melts into a thick crepe. The crepe is then topped with grated fresh coconut and whatever topping you desire - cheese, meat, chicken, sausage, or sweet combos like doce de leite (caramel) or brigadeiro (like nutella). We got a plain cheese one to split and then a doce de leite - both were filling and outstanding! The texture takes some getting used to - it is kind of crunchy and at the same time chewy, dry yet gooey, and light yet substantially filling. My kind of fun. Check out a kind of long but fun little video: Making Tapioca

That’s all for now, plus some lovely pictures to entertain y’all.

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9th July 2008

I'm hungry
I WANT a doce de leite tapioca!!! Please, please bring one home. And, where are all your other travel entries for all of last week??? Huh? What have you been doing?

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