There you are, hours into a beach session and perfecting doing absolutely nothing, and then suddenly, out of the hypnotising blue sky, hunger strikes. Rest easy in that chair and without fear, for this is the perfect place to test out the Brazilian lei do menor esforço (the law of minimum effort), a rule of thumb that most cariocas swear by.
Rio is blessed with a multitude of 'celebrity' beach hawkers floating across the sands in the heat of the day, the majority alleviating the monotony of bronzed bums and blue skies with some eccentric signature moves. The cult of the beach vendor is alive and well, appearing in magazines, newspapers, on the television and even occasionally popping up to serve Mate tea at the coolest events around town.
Frantically shouting their catchphrases from side to side it's all about the strategy, outselling the next guy with the basket of pineapple on his head. Around posto 9 where the 'heads' hang out, so the food sales exponentially peak, and the characters really hit their stride.
Sucolé do Claudinho (R$3)
Little packages (we won't say the 'c' word) of frozen fresh fruit pulp, the sucolé has been a staple since the 1980s, and some of the best come from Claudinho, one of the biggest personalities on the beach. At the height of the summer season, he can sell 3000 of these little beauties in around three hours, his team of vendors spread throughout Ipanema and Leblon. Always a sell out is the passion fruit mousse, perfect refreshment for those hot afternoons and just the thing to make life on the beach even sweeter.
Mate de galão (R$4)
This refreshing, oh-so-sweet tipple is best enjoyed chilled to ice-cold levels, when it will refresh every single cell in your body from the first sip. In one side, a gallon of Mate tea. in the other, a barrel of lime juice; find the balance of lime-to-mate that works for you, but always opt for the cleaner-looking barrels to avoid any potential bugs, they can't be easy to clean. The most famous seller around the strip known as Coqueirão, practically opposite Rua Maria Quitéria, is Marcelo who supplements his beverage with a few essential papers and a ready lighter.
If you are up to level five on the hunger scale, then sink your teeth into a Hareburger. And you don’t even have to look for them, because sooner or later you will hear an unmistakable “Haaaareeebuuurgerrrr” in the distance followed by a little trill on a flute. These healthy soy burgers became such a hit that Raphael, their creator, opened his own restaurant in nearby shopping mall Galeria River.
Marçal (pictured above) is the go-to guy for a beach-based cup of quality açaí. His marketing weapon of choice is the classic megaphone, employed with a theatrical flourish and a thunderous call of "Açaí, açaí! With fresh honey!”, in just about every intonation imaginable. Quite where he keeps it ice cold we have no idea, but we couldn't be happier that he does.
Khaled’s hit song 'El Arbi' was a huge success here in the early 2000s, but probably the only place to still hear it is on the beach blaring from the radio of 'Khaled Carioca'. If you do catch a few of its unmistakable notes drifting up the sand and see the silhouette of a man in Arabian garms on the horizon, this is no mirage. The kebabs and esfihah (triangular, doughy parcels filled with mince, cheese and spinach or chicken) are perfect to kill off your hunger, with a selection of garlic and hot sauces to add some tang.