Carioca’s Soul: The Boteco Culture

By Mauricio Peltier / Photos by Camila Valdeavellano / Special thanks to Gonzalo Maldonado and Rolando Ruiz-Rosas

Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is one of those global cities that has a truly unique lifestyle. Very few cities, some might say. No other, insists a carioca.

In Flying Down to Rio, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers together for the first time, Hollywood offers the world a picture of a 1933 idyllic Rio. Since then, the city became a contemporary, tropical myth. This first wave continued in 1941 with the world premiere of the picturesque Luso-Brazilian Carmen Miranda in That Night in Rio, and ended in 1953, after countless films set in Brazil, with the emblematic Latin Lovers, starring Lana Turner and as local native, Ricardo Montalbán.

Post 1953, new mythical cycles—both on and off the screen—built a Rio, indeed a Brazil, propelled by eroticism, samba, summer drinks, and later, by Pelé’s goals and bossa nova music, culminating with complex nuances and urban violence, as in the Oscar winning film Cidade de Deus.

Today, Rio and all that it represents and offers, is back on spot. Walking through different neighborhoods of the city we have an opportunity to experience, first hand, one of its most idiosyncratic gastronomic treasures: the bars proudly known as botecos, or, when we fondly refer to “ours”, botequim.

Published on Latin Lover issue #04