Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

Brazil­ian boom­town Perched be­tween the turquoise wa­ters of a south­ern At­lantic bay and the in­land Brazil­ian rain for­est, Sal­vador da Bahia is Brazil’s third-largest city and its so-called “cap­i­tal of hap­pi­ness,” due to its rau­cous street-car­ni­val cul­ture. The city’s cui­sine, mu­sic, and ar­chi­tec­ture em­body its colo­nial and Afro-Brazil­ian roots. Dur­ing the 18th and 19th cen­turies, Sal­vador made the tran­si­tion from be­ing the cap­i­tal of the Por­tuguese colony to be­com­ing a hot­bed of the Brazil­ian in­de­pen­dence move­ment.

The city’s dy­namic food traders of this era — black and white, male and fe­male, slave and free — are the sub­jects of a new book, Feed­ing the City: From Street Mar­ket to Lib­eral Re­form in Sal­vador, Brazil, 17801860 by Santa Fe res­i­dent Richard Gra­ham. Funded by a Ful­bright fel­low­ship, Gra­ham, who used to head the his­tory depart­ment of the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin, spent months in Sal­vador’s many ex­cel­lent archives and his­tor­i­cal li­braries to cre­ate a por­trait of the city’s colo­nial-era so­cial makeup, alive with the work­ings of street sell­ers, gro­cers, boat­men, cat­tle deal­ers, and im­porters. As Gra­ham writes, “No city feeds it­self. ... A city de­pends on a vast ar­ray of out­siders to grow or raise food, and most es­sen­tially, on peo­ple to trans­port it, and on mid­dle­men and -women to buy and re­sell it to con­sumers.” The book uses the world of the food trade to show how, his­tor­i­cally, Brazil’s blacks and whites, slaves and slave­hold­ers oc­cu­pied far more com­plex so­cial roles than that of vic­tims and op­pres­sors.

Gra­ham hosts a re­cep­tion and book sign­ing for Feed­ing the City at Allá (102 W. San Fran­cisco St.) from 3 to 6 p.m. Satur­day, Nov. 20. There is no charge to at­tend this pub­lic event, which fea­tures Bahian Brazil­ian food and re­fresh­ments. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 988-5416.

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