Brazil: nuts about food, by Susan Smillie in the Guardian.
Across the Guamá river, back among the bustle of Belém, Maria do Carmo sells spicy tacacá soup in cuia gourd bowls on Avenida Nazare. The broth is big flavoured and unlike anything I’ve ever tried: at first tangy and sour, rich with shrimp and heat from pimenta-de-cheiro, then slowly building into a strange but not unpleasant tingle that numbs the mouth. This is courtesy of leaves from jambú, a flowering herb that’s known as the toothache plant. The body of the soup is tucupi, a broth extracted from the manioc root (ubiquitous in Brazil as potatoes are here) and thickened with tapioca gum. Maria’s been making it every day for 40 years and has one of the most popular stalls here, thanks, she says, to quality ingredients. She certainly seems to be keeping Anthony Bourdain happy. For me, this fantastic broth is the perfect expression of time and place - I can’t imagine it tasting as good anywhere but on the steamy streets of Belém at sunset.