If you’re wondering why a market made the list of 1000 Places to See Before You Die in the Page-A-Day® calendar, consider this: markets are vibrant microcosms of their communities.
Ask seasoned travelers what the best way is to get to know a country, and many will point you to a local market. There, you can observe and interact with locals, ogle street performers, discover local produce, encounter popular dishes and practice your language skills, too. It’s a great place to while away an afternoon, eat-on-the-go, snap colorful photos and pick up souvenirs to remember the whole experience when you return home.
In the United States, markets usually happen only on weekends or select days of the week. In other countries like Brazil, markets are a daily occurrence, operating as consistently as grocery stores for people to sell and buy food and other products. One of the most famous markets in Brazil as Ver-o-Peso—a veritable Mecca for market lovers.
In Brazil, the many tents and stands that comprise Ver-o-Peso actually constitute a national monument. As the largest outdoor public market in Brazil—and with 50,000 daily visitors and 6,000 workers—it’s no surprise that Ver-o-Peso is officially recognized by the country. Located in the town of Belém in northern Brazil, the market neighbors ports that have long been hubs of trade.
What exactly is for sale at Ver-o-Peso? Amongst the colorful crafts, tables of fish, and Brazil nuts, are baskets upon baskets of small dark berries. These are açaí berries, native to the Amazon Rainforest. Most residents of the United States have now likely heard of açaí due to a relatively recent rise in popularity. Not only are açaí berries delicious, but they’re also jam-packed with antioxidants, amino acids and omega fatty acids that improve the immune system and spike metabolism.
Açaí berries have more tricks up their sleeves. Packed with vitamins and loaded with protein, this superfruit is an edible panacea of sorts. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the Ver-o-Peso market and purchase some fresh-from-the-Amazon berries, you can pop them into your mouth like blueberries. There is also no shortage of recipes and ways to use açaí. You can juice them, make sorbet, blend them into smoothies, or layer them with yogurt in parfaits. When your new açaí obsession gets you on a health kick, get more recipes and tips from The Earthbound Cook to stay on track!
Of course, if Ver-o-Peso is on your list of places to go before you die, but that trip’s a ways away, you can purchase açaí products in the U.S. Look for juices and smoothies at health food stores or smoothie bars. A glass of açaí juice is no handful of fresh berries plucked from a basket at Ver-o-Peso, but it will tide you over until your trip.
Read on for more on 1000 Places to See Before You Die book and calendar line from Workman Publishing and Page-A-Day.