The Ver-o-Peso Market in Belem, Para


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Visiting my family in Belem in the north of Brazil brings back lots of memories from my childhood. I used to spent my school breaks with the only grandpa I knew. I still remember the smell of fresh fish brought by my aunts and uncles early in the morning to be prepared by my grandma during the day with fresh cilantro, lime, onions, pepper and tucupi. Been in this region you must try the tenderness of the cat fish called Filhote or the fish called Dourada. Fried and served with vinagrette and farofa (ground roasted flour made from manioc), this was the combination my grandpa used to enjoy with his cold local beer while waiting for the rest of lunch to be served.

Today the local people can find fish in the supermarket but you may also try a more traditional place in the city: Mercado do Ver-o-Peso. It is the only place in the city you can buy fresh fish rather then catching your own in the Amazon River. These photos were taken in a visit to the market this weekend.

The mercado do Ver-o-Peso is a open market located in Belém. It is known to be one of the largest open market in South America. Througout the history, the Ver-o-Peso market became one of the main points of supply in the city of Belém. It is there where all fish, vegetables and fruits produced in and along the Amazon River to supply the city. When visiting the market you will notice that it is actually a market of markets or a market complex.

Besides the chaotic movement of people and goods that happens in the market, its organization is actually very well balanced. You can find all the complementary ingredients necessary to prepare your fish dish: coriander, parsley, lime and pepper for example.

The daily routine in the ver-o-peso starts very early between 2 and 4 a.m. when the boats wait for the right tide to dock in the Pedra (dock beside the market) to supply the fish for the market.

In another moment of the day, usually at night the second big movement happens when the Açai production comes by boat, with other seasoanal fruits like mango, pupunha, taperebá, cupuaçu, bacuri, ingá, muruci and many others.

Adventuring a little bit more inside the market you will find all kinds of medicinal plants for any kind of problem, a unique combination of indigenous "research" and popular belief "development". But I will leave that for a future post in our blog.