Until the middle of the 20th century, street fish sellers called “varinas” were a common sight in Lisbon. They carried a basket of fresh fish on their heads and attracted customers with their catchy slogans and charismatic personalities.
Varinas are a relic of the past, but some of the best fish in Lisbon is still sold by a charismatic woman. Many restaurants in the capital city order their fish from Acuçena Veloso.
Visiting Acuçena at Mercado 31 de Janeiro is a fascinating experience. It was in a stall in this market that she started selling fish at nine years of age. Today, she owns 23 stalls.
The quality and variety of Acuçena’s fish would astonish the patrons of Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. But it is not easy to gather these marine treasures. Açucena wakes up every weekday at 2:00 am to make sure she buys the best fish the sea has to offer. Despite her long work hours, she’s always in a good mood. “Look at these…
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