Bahian cuisine has been strongly influenced by its rich African history. The cuisine that developed in the region is also popularly known as “oil food” based on the heavy use of dendê (palm) oil, which is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the palm tree. Different types of hot peppers are another frequent ingredient in Bahia cookery, especially the Capsicum pepper and sauces made with red peppers. Some of the Bahian cuisine of African origin include delicacies such as bobó de camarão (shrimp), calf’s foot, carurus (made with okra, fish, shrimp, chicken, peanuts, cashew nuts, and seasoned with oil and peppers), vatapá (shrimp, fish or chicken with a flour base, seasoned with coconut milk and palm oil), moqueca (a seafood stew made with coconut milk, shown above), mingaus (porridge), pamonha (cake made of green corn, cinnamon, etc., rolled and cooked in cornhusks), canjica (corn mush), acaçá (corn meal and rice flour mush cooked in a banana leaf), acarajé (dish made with black-eye peas seasoned with salt and onion and fried in palm oil, then served with pepper sauce, dried shrimp, vatapá, tomatoes, and green pepper), ubobó (dish made from beans, bananas, manioc, and seasoned with palm oil), coconut rice, coconut beans, angu (mush made of corn meal), and aloá which is a lemonade drink mixed with honey and other ingredients.
Born Margareth Menezes da Purificação, on October 13, 1962, in Boa Viagem, the Peninsula region of Itapagipe in Salvador. She is an internationally known, award-winning Brazilian pop star, but her music genre is predominantly the axé, samba-reggae, and samba-funk music of Bahia. From an early age, Menezes was surrounded by music, through her family’s love for it, and in her teens she began performing in the trios elétricos in Bahia’s Carnaval. In 1985, at the age of 21, she won the Troféu Caymmi for the Best Female Performer of Bahia, and she would win it again in the 1990s along with the Troféu Imprensa. Four years later, she recorded her first solo album dedicated to Bahian grooves. Her second album, Elegibô (Uma Historia de Ifá), stayed in first place for 11 weeks on the American charts in the World Music category. It was also awarded by Billboard magazine and Rolling Stone magazine appointed the album as one of the five best in the world in the same category. Other big hits include Me Abraça e Me Beija and Kindala. She is credited and appreciated for bringing the music of Bahia to the world.
Maria Escolástica da Conceição Nazareth was one of the most important mães de santo (iyalorixá or priestess of orixá) of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé. She was born in Salvador, BA in 1894 and for 64 years, she led the Candomblé house Ilé Ìyá Omi Àse Ìyámasé, located in Salvador in the neighborhood of Gantois. Mãe Menininha do Gantois, as she was called, became nationally known and well-respected for her kindness and affection. Her fight for the legalization of the office based religion and the consequent integration of religion in national society also made her respected by all. At the time that she inherited the position of mãe de santo at a young age, it was not easy to lead a terreiro (Candomblé house of worship) due to the persecution the religion suffered by the authorities in those days. Menininha, however, promoted the value of the religion and its integration into local society, obtaining the license to worship the orixás in 1930. Mãe Menininha died in 1986 at age 92. Her funeral was one of the greatest processions in Bahia. All mourned the death of one of the most beloved women of Brazil. Iba e Mãe Menininha!
“Oxente” (pronounced “oh-SHEN-chi”), or “oxe” for short (pronounced “osh”), is an exclamatory expression that has no direct translation in English and, although the meaning sometimes depends on the situation, it is generally used to express surprise or disbelief about something like how English speakers might exclaim “what???!!!” at some news they just heard. It is a colloquialism that has become a cultural identifier of Bahia as it considered regional slang that is only used in the Northeast of Brazil. For example, a conversation using this expression might go:
Maria: Oí João, do you have my Batala CD that I loaned you a week ago?
João: Oh no, sorry. I forgot to return it to you again. In fact, I’ve been loaning it out to all my friends who also love Batala’s music.
Maria: Oxente!!! João, I need my CD back. How do you expect me to survive another day without grooving to my Batala tunes?!?! Oxe! (sucks teeth and rolls eyes at João in utter annoyance and disbelief)
Now that you’re ready to falar baianês (speak Bahian slang), let us know in the comments below how you would use the word Oxente.
Check out another use of Oxente in this song by Bahian singer Jauperi.