At Cida Baiana, a restaurant specializing in northeastern Brazilian cuisine, located in the hip neighborhood of Lagoa, everything was as I expected: rustic wooden furnishings, Afro-Brazilian art, and dinner served in traditional clay pots. But one thing was missing: the strong aroma of dendê (den-DAY), a thick, pulpy golden palm oil extracted from African palms that also grow in the state of Bahia. When I didn’t smell it as soon as I walked in the door, I feared that this Bahian restaurant had adapted its recipes to cater to the blander southern Brazilian palate. Still, I held onto hope until the waiter came through the swinging doors of the kitchen, moqueca in hand. My dinner, however, was unaccompanied by that sharp, pungent aroma I had been longing for. What I ate instead was a delicious — albeit light and mild — fish stew, full of chunks of white fish, shrimp, and mussels. It was far too light on the dendê for my craving. While I was disappointed, the clientele at Cida Baiana probably never complain: for each person who loves dendê, there’s another who can’t stand even the smell of it.