Santa Teresa: a city neighbourhood in the rainforest
On Saturday, Cariocas flock here from all corners of the city to feast on feijoada, a delicious stew of tender pork and black beans. Others sip a refreshing caipirinha, Brazil’s signature cocktail that mixes cachaça, lime, ice and sugar. Restaurant Sobrenatural is famous for its fresh seafood and fish dishes. The punheta de bacalhau may not have the most appealing name (it freely translates as the ‘masturbating cod fish’), but the grilled fish with coconut milk, banana, potatoes and Brazil nuts is truly outstanding.
That Rio de Janeiro is a city in the middle of a rainforest becomes particularly apparent in Santa Teresa, where elegant mansions fight against the advancing jungle. Green parrots shriek from the tree tops, ferns poke through the cracks in the walls and the wires of the tram are overgrown with the roots of bromeliads. In the garden of the charming café Cafecito you can almost hear the plants grow. It feels as if the rainforest is anxious to reclaim the cobblestoned streets of the hillside neighbourhood. Rio de Janeiro is the only city in the world that can boast having a tropical rainforest inside its municipal borders. The term ‘urban jungle’ takes on a whole new meaning here.