Monthly Archive: October 2011

Oct 31

How to make a great Caipirinha

To paraphrase the advice given out for Martinis: Caipirinhas are like breasts – one is not enough, three is too many. Now that my hangover has finally subsided I will continue where I left off… 


But before I get going on the steps for making a great Caipirinha, I want to reiterate the warning – this is a powerful drink. When I arrived in Brazil I thought of the Caipirinha as being the same strength as a standard large measure of spirit (rum, vodka, whisky) with a mixer. It isn’t – I estimate that the standard version served in a bar or restaurant in Rio contains at least 5 or 6 standard measures of Cachaça…

 

The basic tools required to make a Caipirinha

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Oct 29

A Word of Advice…

…the Caipirinha is a powerful drink and should be treated with respect.

Do not make the mistake of underestimating the power of Brazil’s most famous cocktail. When I have recovered from my hangover, I’ll tell you how to make one for yourself.

Oct 28

True Pepper

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like Brazilian food when I first got here, but it did take a little time to get to know it well enough that I could appreciate the difference between, for example, good farofa and bad farofa – at first they all just taste like weird, dry powder. After a while you get a feel for it and you start to understand why some places have people spilling out onto the street while others stand empty. 


One criticism you could level at mainstream Brazilian food is that it can be a little bland and stodgy. I’ve learned to love rice, beans and farofa but there are times when I long for a lamb bhuna or a Thai green curry. 

 

Indian food. Sigh - que saudade…

 

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Oct 27

Views To Get Out Of Bed For

Some problems are good to have aren’t they? Like when the view outside your window at 5.30am is so amazing that you simply have to get out of bed and take a few photos. Then you can’t get back to sleep and you find yourself tired for the rest of the day. I’m not going to get much sympathy here am I? 


Well if I’m going to suffer (yes, suffer) then it seems only right that something good comes out of it. Like today’s post! So here are some of the more memorable views from my window that have sent me scampering for my camera:

This was yesterday morning. We have a saying in England: “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”. This is the old way of saying that it’s going to rain (everyone knows shepherds can’t stand the rain right?). Well, judging by yesterday’s weather, that saying doesn’t work here.

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Oct 26

The Most Important Word in Brazil

The British (and English speakers in general) are not renowned for their knowledge of other languages. So many people in non-English speaking countries speak our language that our need just isn’t as pressing as that of, say, a Hungarian. So we’re lazy. 

I remember encountering a couple of 40 something English guys living in Medellin, Colombia. Although they had been living there for more than a year, their profound lack of Spanish was astounding. When they wanted to do their weekly shop at the local supermarket, they would hail a cab, get in and then hold up an empty supermarket carrier bag and point at the logo! Amazingly bad!

“Erm, you take-o me here-o?…”

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Oct 25

Two’s plenty…

When I arrived in Rio I had no idea I would end up living here – I thought I would stay for 3 or 4 weeks, one last hurrah at the end of nearly 12 months away from home. So I was in holiday mode – lots of sight seeing, trips to the beach, going out and drinking. And lots of drinking means plenty of trips to the banheiro (ban-YEAH-ro – toilet, bathroom, restroom, loo).

After a few days I noticed that many establishments seemed to be trying to tell me the same thing: “2 folhas para mãos suavemente secas”. And they would always provide this information in the same place – the paper towel dispenser:

Here you see a slight variation on the traditional wording of the message. The meaning is just the same.

 

Now you don’t have to be an expert in Portuguese to get the general idea here. It’s saying that you should just use two sheets to dry your hands. And that is a good message right? It’s saying economise, it’s saying save the trees, save the planet. And yet there is something about this message that seems to get people a little bit wound up for a variety of reasons…

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Oct 24

Urinal Ice Sculptures

If you are ever looking for a comfortable, dependable bar in Rio, you could do a lot worse than Belmonte (pronounced bel-MONCH). There are seven in total, located in convenient locations around Zona Sul. The food is very tasty, the staff are friendly and they do a mean caipirinha (made with Magnifica if you ask). 

The familiar pale green décor of Belmonte (this looks like the one in Flamengo I think).

 

One of the things that my female readers, even those who live in Rio, may not know about is that Belmonte provides a little treat just for the guys. When you visit the toilets you will find that each urinal contains several very large chunks of ice, providing an incredibly satisfying opportunity for some impromptu, do-it-yourself ice sculpture. 

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Oct 21

Quiz – Brazilian Hand Gestures 2

Everyone likes a quizinho on a Friday don’t they? Well today that’s what you’re getting – it’s the return of the Brazilian Hand Gesture videos! (The first one is here


I’m afraid that if you’re Brazilian, or you’ve lived here for a while, then this will be mamão com açucar for you. For the non-Brazilians, you may find it a little more challenging (and in case you’re wondering, that phrase I just used literally means ‘papaya with sugar’ and signifies that it will be very easy, like shooting fish in a barrel). 
So without any further ado, let’s get started with the first video:


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Oct 20

The Canonball Tree

Often your expectations of another country aren’t quite matched by the reality when you finally arrive. It’s like that classic story you hear about the disappointed tourist asking the taxi driver in Sydney where all the kangaroos are hiding. Turns out most cities have the same ugly buildings around the airport, the same traffic jams and the same billboards advertising Coke and McDonald’s. Reality can be underwhelming can’t it? 


Well you needn’t worry about that on your drive into town from Rio’s airport. Sure there’s traffic and billboards, but there’s also a massive (and stinky) favela to see/smell – now you know you’re not in London/New York/Kansas anymore..

But often I find it’s the less obvious differences that really pique my curiosity. Like what are those things on the side of bus and truck wheels for?

I was surprised how many people I asked didn’t know what purpose these cable things served. It turns out they are used to regulate pressure and alert the driver when a tyre deflates

Oct 19

Big Fresh – frescão!

The words “Big Fresh” mean a lot of different things around the world. 

Big and Fresh

 

Supermarkets, logistics companies, burgers, soft drinks and air fresheners – there are a lot of things claiming to be both big and fresh. There is even a terrible Danish rapper whose one track is so bad that I can’t bring myself to post it.

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