A guide to the best stalls at Ver-o-Peso market, in Belém
We explored one of the main tourist attractions in Pará’s capital, the largest open-air market in Latin America with plenty of Amazon products.
By Leticia Rocha
The explosion of scents, colours and flavours is overwhelming. Look beside you and there is a fish that can reach 140 kg, ironically called filhote (puppy); turn around and you see flours, cured meats and freshwater prawns. Along the market’s lanes, there are fruits such as cupuaçu, graviola and taperebá, which have already crossed Amazon borders, and others still little known out of there, such as uxi, noni, bacaba-açu.
Located on the banks of Guamá River, Ver-o-Peso is more than a market, it is a complex that combines Praça do Pescador (Fisherman’s Square), Mercado de Ferro (Iron Market), a craft area, “Mandingueiras” (dedicated to infusions, natural remedies and “garrafadas”, medicinal herbs infusions sold in bottles); “Boieiras” (food stalls); boat station (from where boat tours and municipal boat services depart ); docks (old port transformed into gallery with bars, restaurants and shops); and the largest Latin American open-air market. Founded in 1901, it was listed by Iphan in 1977 because of its cultural, architectural and historical importance. It is also fundamental to the economy of Pará.
It’s a must-see tourist spot, but exploring it can be a hard task – besides its gigantic proportions, there is also the scorching heat of the city. In order to help you during your next visit to Belém, we’ve mapped the essential stalls of the main market sectors.
Praça do Pescador (Fisherman’s Square): Marcinho’s stall is one of the best places for those who want to know the natural wealth of Amazonian waters. Filhote, pirarucu and tucunaré are some of the fish you’ll find there.
Banca da Carmelita: a truly icon at Ver-o-Peso, Dona Carmelita has been selling fruits for 42 years. Locals often look for her when they need ‘help’ to find a rare or urgent ingredient.
Nonato: a mandatory stop to buy Brazil’s famous nut – also known as castanha do Pará (Pará’s nut). Get your camera ready and watch the dexterity with which they crack open the tender shell that surrounds the fruit. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the fresh nut. Notice how the taste is very different from the toasted version – it reminds of coconut.
Nazaré: after an ingredients tour, it’s time to freshen up. This stall sells pulps of Amazon fruits. Our tip is to do a tasting of different juices. Try açaí, taperebá, graviola, bacuri, uxi. And, if you fall in love, bring frozen versions home. Conditioned in thermal boxes, they are accepted by airlines.
Oswaldina: the tour would only be complete with a stop at the ‘boieiras’, as they call the cooks who prepare the “boia”, the local set meal. Here they use the best that the region has to offer: fried fish is the most iconic, but shrimp and dried meat are also popular. And this is always sided by flour, pepper and açaí. By the way, originally, açaí is not served with lots of sugar and granola, as it is often consumed out of Amazonia – it is served pure and processed, as a side dish in a meal.
Avenida Boulevard Castilhos França, s / n, Shops, Belém, PA