Samba, Amazon fruits and fish at Brazil's Ver-O-Peso market

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a vendor poses holding an Amazon fish known as "Pescada Branca" at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The ...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor places his hand on acai berries at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Belém is the epicenter for ...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, workers load a truck with acai berries at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Abroad, acai is best-known in...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor waits for customers after sharpening his knife inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, vegetable vendors prepare their produce at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Other vendors break the oute...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor counts money as a man collects acai berries from the floor at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. ...
In this Aug. 31, 2019 photo, carts used by workers of the Ver-o-Peso riverside market sit idle as a public ferry crosses Guajara Bay in Belém, Brazil....
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor takes a nap during a break at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The market was created in 1...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor prepares fish for customers at his street stand at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-P...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, military police parade near the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The city is the capital and largest city of...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, fish vendor Paulo Pedra works at in the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Market brings together 2,000 st...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor prepares fish for customers at her street stand at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Ver-O-...
In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, people practice capoeira at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art t...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, drunk men embrace early in the morning at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Their night probably fueled b...
In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a vendor looks at his cell phone while a man on a stool practices capoeira at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, B...
In this Aug. 31, 2019 photo, Valeria, 6, poses for a picture embracing her doll inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The stands at...
In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a heron balances on a rope that ties a fishing boat to the dock at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Belé...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, fish vendors work at their stands at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Ver-O-Peso at the Guajara Bay rive...
In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, fish are displayed for customers inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-Peso market includes ...
In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, birds eat the remains of fish discarded by vendors at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-Peso op...

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a vendor poses holding an Amazon fish known as "Pescada Branca" at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The ...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor places his hand on acai berries at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Belém is the epicenter for ...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, workers load a truck with acai berries at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Abroad, acai is best-known in...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor waits for customers after sharpening his knife inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, vegetable vendors prepare their produce at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Other vendors break the oute...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor counts money as a man collects acai berries from the floor at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. ...

In this Aug. 31, 2019 photo, carts used by workers of the Ver-o-Peso riverside market sit idle as a public ferry crosses Guajara Bay in Belém, Brazil....

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor takes a nap during a break at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The market was created in 1...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a vendor prepares fish for customers at his street stand at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-P...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, military police parade near the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The city is the capital and largest city of...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, fish vendor Paulo Pedra works at in the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Market brings together 2,000 st...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, a fish vendor prepares fish for customers at her street stand at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Ver-O-...

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, people practice capoeira at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art t...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, drunk men embrace early in the morning at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Their night probably fueled b...

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a vendor looks at his cell phone while a man on a stool practices capoeira at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, B...

In this Aug. 31, 2019 photo, Valeria, 6, poses for a picture embracing her doll inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The stands at...

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, a heron balances on a rope that ties a fishing boat to the dock at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Belé...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, fish vendors work at their stands at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. Ver-O-Peso at the Guajara Bay rive...

In this Sept. 1, 2019 photo, fish are displayed for customers inside the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-Peso market includes ...

In this Sept. 7, 2019 photo, birds eat the remains of fish discarded by vendors at the Ver-o-Peso riverside market in Belém, Brazil. The Ver-o-Peso op...

BELEM, Brazil (AP) — Exotic Amazonian fruits, medicinal tonics with natural ingredients from the rainforest that claim to cure it all and freshwater fish served fried with a side of thick, deep purple acai juice.

Bands huddled in a circle that sing, tap on tambourines and bang drums to the rhythm of Samba. And the impromptu dancing fueled by plenty of Brazil's cachaca sugarcane liquor — some in bottles filled with jambú, the Amazonian herb that sparks a tingling, electric shock-like sensation to the tongue.

It's all here, at the noisy, crowded and always colorful Ver-o-Peso riverside market in the Brazilian port city of Belem. The open-air market is the icon of a city once known for the rubber trade, but that is now best known as the culinary capital of the Amazon.

It's also at the epicenter for the trade of the oily purple berry of the acai palm tree that is a staple of native Amazon cuisine and a hot item in global foodie world.

"Everything about the acai is good. It's the best fruit that we have on this Earth," said Walter Pinheiro Ribeiro, who has been selling the fruit for 25 years in the port. Some of the acai's fans say it is as an anti-aging elixir, combats cholesterol and even acts as an aphrodisiac.

Every morning, port workers carry woven baskets packed with the dark berries to wooden-hulled river boats.

Abroad, acai is best known in its frozen pulp form for juice and smoothies. But here, at the market, the local way is to eat it like a soup.

It is often sprinkled with toasted manioc flour and served alongside fried Amazonian river fish like dourada or the giant piracucu, which can grow as long as 10 feet (three meters) and weigh more than 400 pounds (180 kilograms).

"The secret here is love — that's the best seasoning," said Osvaldina da Silva Ferreira, who has been cooking at her "Dona Osvaldina" fish stand at the market for 48 years. On a recent day, she served a meal of large shrimp with garlic and a fried fillet of piracucu with a side of beans and acai.

"The Amazon is richness," she said proudly about the river and the rainforest. "Anything you want, you'll find it here."

The stands at the Ver-O-Peso sell maracas with feathers made by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, ceramics and handcrafts made with coconut shells. Roosters crow, parrots sing and ducks quack non-stop in their cages. Pigeons eat leftover seeds, and vultures circle around trying to pick on leftover fish at the docks.

Replicas of soccer jerseys from popular European and South American clubs hang from railings along hammocks. Other vendors break the outer shells from Brazil nuts with sharp machetes or offer salted codfish, straw hats and fresh fruits like the bright red pupunha and the delicious cupuacu that comes from the cacao plant family.

Ver-O-Peso (or See the Weight) at the Guajara Bay riverside was originally a tax collection center for goods from the Amazon paid to the Portuguese crown. It was later turned into the market that today includes docks, the acai fair, a meat market and a fish market made from imported iron plates.

"This market is the eighth wonder (of the world)," Roberto Da Silva Souza, who has been selling fish at the market for 50 years, said about the building. "If you observe closely, you'll see that this old structure was done with a lot of wisdom and intelligence. Look at these pillars."

On this day, he is offering filhote and dourada. He said he often leaves home at around 1 a.m. so he get to the dock when the first boats come and take a close look at their catch to pick the best-quality fish for his stand.

"This job at Ver-O-Peso is a therapy for me. It's an exercise for my mind," he said. "I feel bad, I get sick when I don't come here. I got used to it. This is my home."