April 4, 2007
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Citiscape

Whether in Novo Airão or Manaus or even in Belem, the street in Brazil has a distinctive color and energy that is very different from the streets of North America or Europe or Asia. This seems true on a quiet corner of isolated Novo Airão

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or the docks of Manaus

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At Belem, we had lunch at Lá Em Casa, Paulo Martins' famed headquarters for the cuisine of Para. (Thanks to Bryan Sadowski for the tip: do have I terrific readers or what?!) I had a lovely crab soup, rich with peppery greens, followed by an inspired cordilheira of seven kinds of Amazon fish, each prepared distinctly, on two lovely plates. The highlight was probably a lovely stew of a sweet, chewy shrimp steeped in a yellow vinegar citrus broth with electric cress, a lip-numbing spinachy green.

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Electronics in Novo Airão

The last night on the river, we'd tied up on a sandbar in midstream and the crew spent a couple of hours offloading chairs and tables and building firepits and assembling incredible, extravagant centerpieces from whatever vegetation came to hand and machete. The cook dug a firepit, cut some brush, and made a wonderful wood grill. Luis the naturalist made capirinhas as we waited and watched the churrasco cook. Huge pork ribs. Several kinds of fish, piraraçu for one, wrapped in foil and herbs. A lovely ham-and-sausage salad. Manioc with everything. And, of course, the last of the champagne.

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