Apr 10

Comida di Buteco 2014 is nearly here!

 

If you like to eat, drink and have fun, Rio really is a great place to live. Sure it might not have the range of cuisines and night life of a cosmopolitan city like New York, nor the levels of culinary sophistication of a city like Paris, but what it lacks in those departments, it makes up in sheer gusto.

It’s only been a month since the excesses of carnaval died down, and already the spectre of the World Cup is looming (62 days and counting!). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – this Friday (11 April) sees the start of everyone’s favourite bar food competition – Comida di Buteco 2014!

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Apr 07

The Rio bus experience

blog-ponto-de-onibus

Scream if you want to go faster! Image source

 

Well, I’m less than a week into my new life away from the daily grind and so far things are going well! I had been half expecting to have lots of free time now that my working day no longer involves spending 3-4 hours on public transport, however it’s amazing how quickly new tasks appear to fill the space. Not that I’m complaining you understand – right now, being busy is a very good sign!

But speaking of public transport, some of you may remember a post I wrote last year “Rio buses: Accidents waiting to happen” – it was the day after 7 people had died in a bus crash, so you can imagine I was feeling pretty strongly about bus safety.

But as well as safety concerns, my everyday complaint about riding on buses in Rio relates to the style of driving. Corners are treated with utter contempt, with most drivers actually accelerating as if trying to throw as many passengers off balance. If a traffic light turns red up ahead, but the driver has a 20 metre gap before the car in front, the driver will accelerate hard, then slam on the brakes at the last moment. Everyone gets thrown around bus for no good reason!

Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a couple of million. Here some school kids demonstrate the experience perfectly:

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Apr 03

Waiting 60 years for a Toddy

Toddy-antigo

 

-What’s the difference between a blogger and a journalist?

-Bloggers read and respond to their readers’ comments, journalists don’t! 

OK, please relax journalists, I understand that there are plenty of other differences such as a proper education and training in journalism, journalistic standards (properly citing sources, etc) and accountability. But there is a real point here – bloggers place far more importance on reader comments and interactions with their readers; journalists tend to adopt a more unidirectional approach.

I always like receiving comments on Eat Rio, but every so often something extra special comes in that stands out from the rest. And just such a comment appeared exactly a month ago.

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Mar 28

Feira das Yabás

Portela-Madureira

The home of Portela samba school is here in Madureira, Zona Norte. See from the other side here!

 

Carnival in Rio means different things to different people. Some look forward to the blocos which make up the Carnaval de Rua (street carnival), while others just want to get the hell out of town until it’s all over. Then there is another group for whom carnival is all about the Sambódromo and the competition between the samba schools. The people in this latter group often support a particular samba school in a way more commonly associated with football fans.

Personally I can’t pretend that it bothers me much who wins, but in the same way that I’ve picked a football team to nominally support (Botafogo), I’ve also picked a samba school – Portela. And the main reason I picked Portela was that it shares a home with Feira das Yabás.

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Mar 27

A delicious drop…

clouds-rio

This mysterious white object appeared in the sky last weekend.

 

How has the weather been for you over the last few months? It seems like I’ve been hearing stories of freak weather from all over the world – floods in Britain, snow in the US and ice storms in Canada. Here in Rio we had the hottest summer in 50 years. From the start of December 2013, right through to the end of February, we had temperatures that rarely seemed to dip below 35°C (95°F) and spent long periods well up above 40°C (104°F).

They say that the British are always talking about the weather, but I tell you what – when things get hot, the Brazilians talk about it a fair bit too! Day after day I would hear people complaining that the temperatures were insuportável (unbearable). I have to confess that I took a certain amount of pleasure in telling anyone who would listen that I positively loved the high temperatures. And after all, I spent the first 30 years of my life complaining about how cold it was, I wasn’t about to start moaning about the heat!

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Mar 25

A Skype Ambassador with a ‘passion for food’!

Tom-Le-Mesurier

Check it out – it’s me!

 

Hi everyone! I’ll warn you from the outset, today’s post is mostly about me – I don’t normally go in for  the whole ‘Dear Diary’ posts, but some big changes are afoot and I thought I should give you guys a quick update.

News Item number one: yesterday morning the nice people at Skype announced that they have made me their newest Skype Ambassador - tweeting the news to over 3 million followers!

 

How cool is that? Currently there are 8 of us Ambassadors and each of us has a particular speciality. No prizes for guessing my specialisation – food! In fact the Skype Moment Makers page where they made the announcement describes me as having a ‘passion for food’ and while that is 100% true, I also rather like the way it sounds like a very diplomatic way of saying ‘greedy’!

Anyway, leaving my gluttony aside for a moment, what will my collaboration with everyone’s favourite on-line communication tool actually mean?

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Mar 21

Curry Clube and Favela Brass

Curry-clube-rio

 

A couple of years ago I was introduced to a friend of a friend of a friend in a bar in Rio. When I told her I lived in Santa Teresa and had a food blog, her face changed and she went “Ah! You must be the guy that does the Curry Club thing, right?”. Well, that was confusing! After further chat we established that there was another English guy called Tom who lived in Santa Teresa and he ran something called Curry Clube, a regular get together that involved curry and music.

Well, after I’d got over the fact that I was not the only English bloke called Tom in Santa Teresa, my mind turned to food. In fact it turned to curry! I know many foreigners living in Rio who pine for a decent curry – it really is one of those dishes so packed with flavour that when you get a hankering, nothing else will do. I decided I would have to meet this Tom fellow and go along to his Curry Clube. And do you know what? Approximately 2 years later, I finally made it!

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Mar 18

British Bangers in Rio

Over the last 6-12 months I’ve come across some individuals living in Rio whose culinary activities have made me feel joyous and inspired. Joyous because they’re bringing something new and delicious to the table in Rio. Inspired because they have confirmed my growing belief that people who make great food and possess an entrepreneurial spirit can be successful here in Rio, without needing to have thousands of dollars to invest.

First there was Sei who set up Ferro e Farinha to introduce Rio to two new concepts – great Neapolitan style pizza and the Food Truck model. F&F is now doing so well that the lines of hungry customers start forming before Sei and his team even arrive!

Then there was Daniel and Luis whose Mexican food project, Fiesta Mexicana Autêntica Comida Caseira, has been drawing people from as far away as Niterói and beyond!

Last weekend I met my newest Rio food hero – Jane:

Jane-British-Bangers

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Mar 14

Bezerra da Silva – Samba and the Malandro

Bezerra-da-silva

Every man in his area, Every monkey on his branch, Every cockerel in his yard, Every king in his deck

 

I only became aware of the subject of today’s post recently, when I passed that piece of street art (above) during carnival. It’s a nice piece of work and the guy has a nice looking face – then I saw the lyrics and decided it was time to find out more (starting with what a baralho is – a deck of playing cards).

Born in 1927 in Recife, José Bezerra da Silva grew up singing a North/Northeastern style of music called Coco. In 1942 he moved to Rio and in the 1950s found work as a session musician. His first record was released in 1969 and he went on to record 30 albums over the following 4 decades. He became particularly renowned for a style of samba known as partido alto.

 

Malandros and Malandragem

It seems impossible to say much about Bezerra without mentioning the term malandro. A malandro is someone who lives by malandragem, a lifestyle of hustling, petty crime and idleness. It wasn’t long after I got to Rio that I first came across this word malandro. Fittingly enough, a colleague was warning me about wandering down the wrong street in Lapa – “Watch out for malandros” she said. I say ‘fitting’ because, in Rio there is a strong association between malandros and Lapa.

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Mar 12

Expats doing it for themselves

Marmite

 

In contrast to scaremongering right-wing politicians, I believe that immigrant communities make big cities better. Imagine London without its rich pockets of immigrants from the Caribbean, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey, and so on. It might still be a good city, but would it be a great one? I doubt it.

As an immigrant myself, I have first hand experience of some of the challenges and emotions faced by people living in a new country. Of course some of the classic economic difficulties that immigrants face have been easier for me because I have the advantage of a good education, but I’ve felt homesick, lost, confused and isolated at times and I’ve even had people tell me to go back to where I came from. Once I was even on the receiving end of that classic accusation: You’re stealing our jobs and our women! (“women” plural? Don’t tell Mrs Eat Rio!). Happily most of my interactions with the locals have been far more positive!

But however much we enjoy our new life, I’m sure all immigrants/expats miss things that they can’t get in their new home. To be honest with you, I never bothered that much with Marmite back in London, but once I moved to Rio I found myself longing for the stuff. And what do we do when we can’t have something from home? We fill our suitcases or we make those things ourselves!

Sadly I haven’t succeeded in formulating my own Marmite (Mrs Eat Rio would probably leave me if I did!), but recently I decided to have a go at making another British favourite – crumpets!

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