Dec 12

Interruptions and Interjections

interruptions

 

When I first arrived in Rio, I naively thought that once I had a good grasp of Portuguese my communication woes would be over. What I went on to discover is that the actual language is just part of the challenge. The rules of conversation here are quite different.

While a certain amount of interruption is common in English, I found that Cariocas take the art of interruption to new heights. These interruptions were pretty annoying at first – I would be trying to describe some event or experience but the person I was talking to wouldn’t let me finish a sentence! And even when the person I was talking too was listening attentively, someone else would come along and barge in with their own topic with little regard for the fact that we were already speaking about something else!

I later found that Cariocas (this may or may not apply to Brazilians in general) have a suite of verbal tricks to counteract the constant interruptions:

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Dec 11

Ferro e Farinha returns!

ferro-e-farinha

 

To say that Rio is not known for good pizza is a bit like saying that Manchester is not known for sunny weather (sorry Mancunians!). Cariocas have a strange habit of eating their pizza with sachets of tomato ketchup or even (gasp) mustard – that’s how bad pizza in Rio is! One of the biggest complaints about Carioca pizzas is that they are topped with way too much (bad) cheese and not enough tomato sauce (perhaps that explains the ketchup?).

I used to wonder whether perhaps Cariocas just liked their pizza that way. Perhaps they didn’t want decent pizza? Well, just over a year ago, Sei Shiroma and his Ferro e Farinha team came along and disproved that little hypothesis. I wrote about Ferro e Farinha back in September 2013 when they were just getting going and the response I had to that post (it is still one of my all time most-read posts) made me realise that people in Rio (locals and expats alike) were crying out for a better quality pizza.

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Dec 01

A solution for Santa Teresa while we wait for the Bondinho

santa-teresa-bonde

Anyone who has visited Rio’s Santa Teresa neighbourhood over the last 3 years may have been a little confused. The picturesque streets that trace the area’s steep hills and hairpin bends are covered in tracks, yet the Santa Teresa tram has not been seen here since August 2011. Instead you see posters on walls and stickers in car windows showing the image above.

Back when I first moved to Rio, the tram of Santa Teresa, better known as the Bonde or Bondinho, was a major tourist attraction. The bright yellow wooden tram cars were rickety but pretty and made for an utterly charming way to get around Santa Teresa. However, although tourists and locals flocked to the trams, all was not well.

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Nov 28

Festa Crackers – a British-Brazilian Christmas cultural exchange

festa-crackers

 

 

There are people in life who attempt things that haven’t been done before; people who put self-belief before self-doubt to try something new. Imagine how boring the world would be without those people! Well I met just such a person a couple of weeks ago:

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Nov 25

Less change in Brazil

change-in-brazil

 

There’s a lot of talk about change in Brazil. And whether we’re discussing pulling people out of poverty through the Bolsa Família scheme, or the changes required to improve health and education for Brazil’s poorest communities, change is usually thought of as a positive thing. Well today I’d like to make the case for less change in Brazil. Here’s Exhibit A:

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Nov 14

Brazilian Body Slang

homem-camarao

Homem Camarão image source

 

People can be cruel can’t they? They can also be pretty hilarious and at times the line between the two can be oh so slender. Just the other day I was absentmindedly listening in on a conversation between Mrs Eat Rio and one of her friends (let’s call her Maria) when I heard something strange. The conversation was focussing on one of Maria’s ex-boyfriends who, according to the conversation, had been rather dull and a complete gym-freak. What Maria said next caught my attention – she described the guy as a camarão.

“A camarão?” I thought to myself, “He was a shrimp?”. What could that possibly mean? Was his skin a strange shade of orangey-pink? Or perhaps he was kind of stinky? Wrong! It turns out that this is a way of referring to someone who has a tasty body but an ugly face. So, so cruel…(but also made me chuckle).

This set me off wondering what other funny phrases there are to describe people’s body parts. Turns out there are quite a few:

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Nov 07

Should I tip in Brazil?

nova-capela

The longest serving waiter at Nova Capela being very good-natured about having a camera in his face!

 

A question I’m often asked by people visiting Rio is: “Should I tip in Brazil? If so, how much?”.  It’s usually North Americans who ask this question and I’m sure that is due to the strong tipping culture in that part of the world. Well, the short answer is “For restaurants, yes – 10%”. The more helpful answer is “Yes, but the standard 10% is usually added to your bill without you having to think about it”.

This ‘not having to think about it’ aspect of tipping in Brazil got Mrs Eat Rio and I into trouble last time we were out of the country. We were approaching the end of our trip to Mexico (where a gratuity is usually left off the bill) and as it was our last night in Oaxaca before returning to Mexico City, we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy meal at Casa Oaxaca. It was a wonderful night and all the way home we chatted about the delicious food, the beautiful design/décor and the friendly, attentive service. As we got back to our hotel room, I stopped dead: We forgot to leave a tip! It was too late to go back and we were leaving first thing the next morning, so we were in a tricky situation. I gave them a call and they told me (very graciously) not to worry about it and thanked me for calling. I decided the least I could do is give them a recommendation, so here it is. If you get the chance, go!

casa-oaxaca

Delicious morsels from chef Alejandro Ruiz of Casa Oaxaca. Here’s what Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants had to say: “The flavour combinations are often surprisingly striking with Ruiz never shying away from big-hitting palate punches. Food is rarely as refreshingly honest as it is here.”

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Oct 28

Brazilian Recipes: Baião de Dois

baiao-de-dois-ingredients

A few of the things you’ll be needing for today’s recipe for Baião de Dois.

 

Today I am stepping into dangerous territory – I’m going to tell you about one of the classic recipes of Northeast Brazil. Why dangerous? Well try to imagine a beloved recipe from your hometown/region. Now imagine that some idiot from another country comes bumbling along and tries to tell everyone how to make it, but of course the bumbling idiot gets it so, so wrong. So before I get myself into an on-line version of this classic culinary car crash from Keith Floyd, I will quickly attempt to pre-empt outraged complaints by saying that this is just my way of doing it and I accept that true Nordestinos may do it differently.

OK, so with that pusillanimous pre-emptive apology out of the way, let’s get on with it shall we? Baião (sounds a bit like ‘buy-OHWN’) is a style of music and dance from Northeast Brazil (if you’d like some extra Nordestino atmosphere, why not have Luiz Gonzaga sing Baião in the background while you read the rest of the post?). So if “Baião de Dois” is a dance for two, then who are the principal protagonists in this culinary caper? You guessed it – Mr Rice and Mrs Beans:

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Oct 18

Manguinhas – another reason to visit your local feira

mango-manga

 

Here’s a little factiod for you: while many fruits have evolved bright colours to attract birds (birds have excellent colour vision), mangoes are generally a dull greenish-red colour because they have evolved to be eaten (and therefore distributed) by fruit bats and other animals that rely more on smell than sight to find food. See? 3 years studying zoology wan’t a complete waste was it? According to my old ecology lecturer, we silly humans have spent the last 100+ years attempting to breed bright, colourful mangoes which appeal to the average human shopper.

There are mango trees (mangueiras) all over Rio. In fact here’s the view out of my window right now:

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Oct 13

Photo post: Lapa Sandwich

Lapa-sandwich

 

I never know quite how to feel when I see this scene in Lapa. Part of me is happy that the little fellow survived, another part of me feels sad that these huge, ugly blocks were put here in the first place.

 

 

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