Monthly Archive: August 2012

Aug 30

The storm before the calm

Wow, I’ve been so busy recently that there’s been no time for blogging! Can you believe I actually worked last weekend? Saturday and Sunday? Work has been crazy recently – lots of early starts and late finishes. Thankfully, after 6 months solid work, I have some holiday coming up. During these last few frantic days at work, my mantra has been “This time next week I’ll be in Bahia, this time next week I’ll be in Bahia…”.

Bahia, in Brazil’s northeast, is known for being a particularly laid back place. A friend told me that last time he was there, he was staying in a pousada (like a guest house or nice hostel). At around midday he found the chef snoozing in a hammock. The chef stayed awake just long enough to listen to the lunch order and then turned over and went back to sleep! Apparently the food showed up around 4.30pm!

As if in pre-penance for the relaxing times to come, the pace of work has been building to a crescendo. And as if to mirror this tempestuous ‘storm before the calm’, the weather in Rio has gone a bit crazy too. This was the view outside my window this morning:

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Aug 26

Novos Baianos

Brazilian music has been on the Eat Rio menu quite a bit recently – we’ve charted the highs of João Gilberto and Bossa Nova and we plumbed the lows of a plagiarising Rod Stewart, legs akimbo. In one of the comments I was even accused of having good taste in music! Well, I feel that I have a real ace left up my sleeve when it comes to Brazilian music recommendations.

There is a very select group of albums that I mentally file under the label “Solid Gold”. You know, no dud tracks – what you might call perfect albums. This list includes Blondie’s Parallel Lines, Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Van Morrison’s Moondance (you’ll let me know if this starts to get a little self-indulgent won’t you?).

Well, since coming to Brazil I have a new album to add to this list of mine. It is called Acabou Chorare (which means ‘No More Crying’) and is the work of a group called Novos Baianos. What can I say about this album? It really is one of my favourite albums of all time – a beautiful piece of work.

Novos Baianos

Novos Baianos – the founding members (from left to right) Luiz Galvão, Baby Consuelo, Paulinho Boca de Cantor and Moraes Moreira.

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Aug 25

A Rio Caipirinha

Another post about Caipirinhas? Yeah, what of it?! Just a quick one today as I’ve been working all day would you believe? But as I toiled away, here’s what I was dreaming off:

caipirinha

Is it just me, or does this thing look about a metre tall? A trick of the light or something I suppose – this is in fact just a normal, smallish plastic cup. The drink inside was lovely, regardless of its humble container…

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Aug 22

The Fruit Evangelist

Over the last few years I have become aware of a weird new use of an existing word: Evangelist. In Brazil of all countries it would be hard to avoid the traditional, religious sense of the word. But have you come across Technology evangelists? There are Microsoft Evangelists, Photoshop Evangelists, you name it. As far as I can tell, they are employees who spend time making training videos, running forums and generally singing the praises (hence the name presumably) of their chosen product/manufacturer.

Personally I wouldn’t much like to get stuck in a lift with any type of evangelist, though (as we’re about to see), perhaps I should remember what they say about throwing stones in glass houses, because not so long ago I found myself doing some evangelising of my own.

strawberries morangos

Luscious, juicy, Brazilian morangos (strawberries).

 

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Aug 21

João and Maria Ninguém

Today I’m going to pick up from where I left off in the last post with João Gilberto’s seminal album Chega de Saudade. One of the songs on the album is a light, lilting number titled Maria Ninguém (“ninguém” is Portuguese for nobody/no one). If you don’t know the song, here is a link (be warned, it can get stuck in your head for days…).

As you may recall, I was listening to this music back in London, meaning my usual Brazilian cultural encyclopedia (AKA Mrs Eat Rio) was not around. It was only when I got back to Brazil that I discovered that Maria Ninguém has a husband named João and that this couple are actually figures of speech!

 

Tito Na Rua Zé Ninguém Hoodrat

This is the work of Alberto Serrano, AKA Tito Na Rua. We’ll come back to this at the end…

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Aug 19

Desafinado

Some of you may remember that in March this year I went to London for a couple of months. It was my first taste of a real winter in 3 years and I felt almost instant saudade for the warmth and sunshine of Rio. Perhaps as a result, I found myself listening to Brazilian music as I stood at chilly bus stops, or shivered my way between the train station and my office.

During my time in Brazil I’ve made a few musical discoveries that have come as revelations. The first was when I discovered ‘A Tábua de Esmeralda’ by Jorge Ben. It’s a brilliant album – unusual, very accessible and made me realise that not all Brazilian music has to sound like samba or bossa nova. I wrote about it here.

But back in London I had a new album on constant rotation.

Chega da Saudade

Chega da Saudade by João Gilberto.

 

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Aug 14

Word order can important be

I’m no language expert (in fact I’m closer to the ‘Clueless’ end of the linguistic spectrum), but as far as I know, the Romance languages (such as Portuguese) tend to use a different word order to Germanic languages (such as English) when combining nouns and adjectives.

For example, in English we would say “the red car”, whereas in Portuguese they say “o carro vermelho“. In German: “das rote auto”; in French: “le voiture rouge“.

This may sound like the kind of thing that trips you up and leads to mistakes, but personally I found that I adjusted quite quickly to switching the word order. It probably helped that before Portuguese, I had spent some time learning Spanish, and during my school years (several æons ago) I occasionally attended French classes…

 

yoda

Sound like Yoda you will. Well, kinda… Apparently academic syntacticians have analysed Yoda’s speech and found what they describe as “object-subject-verb” word order. Nice way to justify your research grant guys… Source

 

However it isn’t only nouns and adjectives that change places. And depending on what you’re trying to say, sometimes it’s better to use the Germanic order!

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Aug 10

Go Dilma!

In general, the British don’t go in for all that whooping and hollering when it comes to politicians. Of course there are a few whoopers and hollerers out there, but most of us tend to feel a tinge of regret when choosing to support a politician. We choose Politician X because, having weighed up the options, we’ve decided that he or she is the least bad of the bunch. Certainly not as bad as Politicians Y and Z. But that doesn’t mean we’re about to start waving flags and having parties.

With that out of the way, I can now say that it seems to me that Dilma (let’s get the pronunciation right – it sounds like JIL-ma) has done a pretty decent job since coming to power. I’m not going to pretend that I spend huge amounts of time reading hundreds of in-depth political pieces (my Portuguese level is closer to João e Luiza vão à Praia), but I’ve formed this opinion based on a few factors.

Dilma recente

There are a lot of images of Dilma out there, not all of them flattering, but I like this one for the fact that it looks fairly natural – less like one of those awful, staged campaign posters.

 

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Aug 08

Misto Quente

I love cooking. I love eating out too. I love discovering new food and I even enjoy shopping for food (the only form of shopping I do enjoy…). I am not a ‘foodie’. Urgh! Maybe this is just me, but foodie makes me think of some pompous bore endlessly questioning the ‘provenance’ of this and the ‘sourcing’ of that. You know, this kind of thing:

 

I’m all for locally sourced, seasonal food and all that, but there’s a time and a place. If you find yourself interrogating guests who bring food to your BBQ/Churrasco (“…are those sausages organic?!), it’s time to ask yourself a few questions…

 

Not being a pretentious food obsessive (well, hopefully not all the time!) means that I am free to enjoy the unsophisticated, deliciousness of Misto Quente (in the Carioca accent this sounds like Meesh-toe Kayntch). ‘Misto’ means mixed, ‘Quente’ means hot.

I have discovered all kinds of exotic ingredients and dishes in Brazil, but Misto Quente is pretty down to earth. Two slices of toasted bread, ham and melted cheese. In Britain we call it a Ham and Cheese Toasty. Here in Brazil you can find Misto Quente practically everywhere.

misto quente

It may not look pretty, but let me tell you, this particular Misto Quente was amazing! It was a chilly morning in Ibitipoca National Park, Minas Gerais and we were suffering the obligatory hangover of New Year’s Day, made worse by a bad night’s sleep in a tent. Hot, crispy bread, salty ham from the hotplate and melting Minas Frescal (locally sourced cheese!) made this a winner!

 

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Aug 07

The end of the market!

People have different tolerance thresholds for mess and untidiness don’t they? For some people, the limit is a little dust on the shelf and a couple of dishes in the sink. Others will live quite happily with mould growing on half-finished cups of tea sitting under their bed (naming no names!).

bagunça

Has someone been watching too much TV? Source

 

Some people who know me may be surprised to hear that in our house, I’m the tidy one. This is annoying as it means that in ‘The Cleaning & Tidying Game’, I always crack first. But not without a little complaining first!

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