RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - In the beach food capital of the world, the coronavirus lockdown has been a killer for vendors who normally slog up and down crowded sands in the baking sun to sell anything from corn on the cob to kebabs, sushi and cocktails.
The beaches are deserted now.
To survive, enterprising beach vendor Junior Airton de Moraes has re-invented himself and gone into the home delivery business.
With mandatory social distancing in the city, residents stuck at home can get a taste of the beach life they miss by calling in a delivery of Rio’s renowned Biscoito Globo, a puffed up, crunchy hollow biscuit made from manioc flour, and a refreshing iced tea with lemon, known in Portuguese as matte limao.
“People are missing taking a dip in the sea, but at least this lifts one’s soul,” said Flavia Torres, taking delivery in her Botafogo apartment of a packet of biscuits and an iced tea. “It is the aroma of the beach.”
Junior’s service has become a hit on social media and is allowing him to make ends meet.
“Suddenly, I was unable to do what was keeping me alive, so I began delivering to the homes of my clients, and they are helping on social media,” the 37-year-old said.
Fernanda Scarambone found Junior on Instagram and began sharing his service with her friends who are buying from him.
“Matte limao and Biscoito Globo remind me of my childhood in Leblon and Ipanema. I am feeding my nostalgia for those beaches,” she said.
Junior began selling on Ipanema 10 years go and he can’t wait to get back to the beach however hot the sun might be.
“I’m counting the hours for this to end so I get back on the sand. That is what I want most,” he said.
Biscoito Globo, the ubiquitous beach snack, might not be there when he does return, forcing him to turn to another brand. The family bakery, which would sell up to 7,000 packets on a good day, recently closed its doors indefinitely after 67 years, a victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reporting by Sebastian Rocandio; Writing by Anthony Boadle