Monthly Archive: October 2012

Oct 28

The challenging sound of Funk Carioca

I can’t speak for the whole of Rio, but if you live in or around my neighbourhood, you can’t have missed a distinctive new sound during the last month or two. The sound I’m talking about is a Funk Carioca (AKA Baile Funk) track called Fala Mal De Mim. I guess the literal translation would be “Speak badly of me”, but probably a better translation would be “Talk sh*t about me”. The artist responsible for this is MC Beyonce.

 

mcbeyonce

This is MC Beyonce. She’s seems very nice, just don’t talk sh*t about her hair or make up. And definitely don’t attempt to steal her boyfriend…

 

Wanna hear the track? OK, here it is:

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Oct 24

Popcorning!

Some time ago Mrs EatRio and I were cooking up something delicious in the kitchen (prawn and lemon risotto since you ask). As I was getting the drinks I said “Would you mind spooning the risotto out into those those bowls?”

Her reply surprised me. Instead of the usual “Yes chef!” that I expect and demand in my kitchen, she asked incredulously “Spooning? I can spoon something out? I love how almost anything can be a verb in English.”

It wasn’t something I’d ever given much thought, but now that she had mentioned it I felt a warm glow of pride as if somehow I was responsible for the remarkable versatility of my native tongue. I excitedly blurted out “You can ladle out soup too! You know, using a ladle!” and waited expectantly for her amazed reaction to this new linguistic revelation, but instead she replied with a barely interested “Oh…” and I realised that the magic of the moment had passed…

More recently I stumbled upon something which shows that Portuguese can play that game too.

Popcorn

This is popcorn. In Portuguese it is pipoca. Image source

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Oct 23

Why is Rio so expensive?

One or two of you may have seen that I got a little mention in the mighty O Globo yesterday morning! If your Portuguese isn’t up to it (or you’re just straight-up lazy) then I’ll see if I can summarise what the article said.

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Rio is one of the most expensive cities in the world for expatriates. Tom Le Mesurier, who has a blog called Eat Rio, wonders how a bottle of wine from Chile can be cheaper in the UK than in Brazil. Tom jokes that the solution is to drink cachaça instead and says that although some foods like fruit and vegetables are cheaper than London, the fancier restaurants are more expensive.

An Italian guy who has lived all over the world says Rio has been the most difficult. He’s planning to open a business but high prices worry him. An economist says that high prices remain one of the biggest challenges that Brazil faces in terms of being competitive. Weirdly, the Lonely Planet has just voted Rio the best value city in the world [this is so weird - I just can't understand this, it makes no sense].

rich rat graffiti

Expat rats have money to burn! Are they (we) driving the high prices in Rio?

 

Things are even harder for Latin Americans. A Colombian woman says that public transport is also very expensive and that property rental prices are higher than in Paris. The economist then says that property prices have been rising above inflation in many Brazilian cities as demand is greater than supply. 

A Frenchman says that prices are the same as Paris but the services are not of the same quality. Finally Nathan Walters, an American [and a friend of mine!] says that he feels lucky to have found a 2 bedroom apartment in Copacabana for around 1,600 USD/month. He also says that the restaurants in Rio are expensive.

The piece finishes up by saying that despite the high prices, none of the foreigners said they want to leave Rio.

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So that was a quick summary of the article. I haven’t had the courage to read the ‘Reader comments’ section yet – on past experience with O Globo, I expect more than one go something like “If the stinking rich Gringo is so bothered about the high price of imported wine, why doesn’t he go and live in France!”.

But on a serious note, having had my name against one small comment in a larger article, I wanted to expand a little on prices in Rio. I’ll quote all prices in Reais – divide by 2 to get USD, divide by 3 to get GBP.

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Oct 23

Arabs in Brazil

People from the Arab world (particularly Lebanon and Syria) started coming to Brazil back in the late 19th Century due to overpopulation and persecution from the Ottoman Turks. Today most Arab Brazilians are fully integrated into Brazilian society, no longer speaking Arabic and playing a part in all aspects of society, from business and politics to football and acting.

One of the most obvious influences they have had on Brazil has been through their food. Here in Rio there are some great Syrian and Lebanese restaurants dotted around the place, but beyond that, there are a couple of snacks that are found almost everywhere.

Kibe

Back in the UK, I would see these on menus as ‘Kibbeh’, but here in Brazil they usually spell it ‘Kibe’ (I don’t think either spelling is really ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – just different ways of trying to spell out the original Arabic كبة). Regardless of how you spell it, these things are good! The outer shell is a mix of bulgur wheat and minced beef – inside is a spiced filling of minced beef, onions and pine nuts.

kibe kibbeh كبة

These little torpedo-shaped beauties are really good! In theory these should be made with lamb, but I think most places in Brazil use beef instead. Source

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Oct 20

Differences and Similarities

After publishing yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that there was some irony to the fact that I spend so much time highlighting the things that make Brazilians distinctive, yet when (some) Brazilians finally agree (“only in Brazil”), I go and say that they’re actually the same as the rest of us!

It got me thinking about how we view our differences and similarities and how language affects our perception of what someone is saying. People generally feel positive when you highlight differences with words like interesting, distinctive and unique but feel negative about words like oddstrange and weird. The flip-side of this linguistic coin comes when you highlight similarities: normal, consistent, dependable are positive, but generic, homogeneous, conventional might not sound so good (-”What do you think of my new shirt?” -”Wow! It’s really, er, generic…”).

Thinking along these lines, I remembered something I saw a little while back:

English Drink Beer not lager


 This is an excerpt of a speech given in 1965 by a Dutch physicist, Hendrik Casimir, in which he describes the way that English speakers (particularly the English!) find differences where others look for the similarities. Also, sorry to be a nerd, but don’t you just love that old typeface?

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Oct 19

Only in Brazil!

If you’ve been scanning the papers in the last day you may have seen this horrible story (Portuguese / English) about a 20 year old named Daniel Barroso abusing dogs at a grooming parlour/pet shop here in Rio.

Daniel Barroso pet shop dog abuse  in Rio

A day after the story broke here in Brazil, it was also reported in Britain.

 

I think it goes without saying that this is a very ugly story – people entrust their loved animals to be groomed and instead of taking car of them, this guy is hitting them and generally maltreating them. Unfortunately stories like this come up occasionally.

As well as causing a huge amount of outrage and upsetting people there is often a kind of mini-back-lash in which people say “People care more about animals than people”. I actually haven’t seen that one so far, but what I have seen a lot of is this: Vergonha, só no Brasil mesmo! (Shame! Only in Brazil!).

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Oct 17

Chocolate’s strange journey

Last month I spent two very enjoyable weeks in Bahia, Brazil’s 5th largest state. It really was a great holiday – there were comedy translations, amazing beaches and one ridiculously beautiful tarantula.

We flew into Salvador, the state capital, and spent a couple of days exploring the city before heading south. Our route followed the coast and as we drove I noticed signs indicating that we were on the Costa do Dendê (Dendê is the fruit of the Oil Palm). Sure enough there were Oil Palms everywhere.

Then, just as we reached our destination, I noticed that the signs had changed and we had crossed into the Costa do Cacau. Of course, we traditionally associate cacau (that’s the Portuguese spelling of cacao/cocoa) with chocolate, but the only real contact I’ve had with this fruit since I’ve been in Brazil has been as a delicious, refreshing drink made from the pulp that surrounds the cocoa beans.

Although we were now on the Cacau Coast, we didn’t see much in the way of cacau. Then one day when we were driving through a small town, I noticed this:

cacau drying

“What?” I imagine you asking (that’s what everyone else in the car said when I pointed this out). You should be directing your attention towards the orange patches on either side of the road.

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Oct 16

Mixing Mangoes with Milk

After hosting Rachel’s guest post just a few days ago, the karmic wheel of blog has come full circle and today I guest posted at Street Smart Brazil! I have to say I’m pretty excited – as far as I can recall it’s my first ever guest post! I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with SSB (like all best-buds, we’re on acronymic terms now), but if not, I’d love it if you’d pop over and say hello, check out my humble offering (which will explain the image below). I think it represents an absolutely fascinating insight into one small part of Brazilian history. Not a particularly nice part of Brazilian history to be fair, but interesting how something from so many years ago still survives today. Intrigued? I hope so!

The link to follow is here: http://streetsmartbrazil.com/blog/20121015/manga-and-milk

Mango and Milk is poisonous

Poisonous Mango?

Oct 14

Não fala que grava!

I’ve mentioned a few of my favourite Brazilian albums in recent months – music by artists such as Jorge BenJoão Gilberto and Novos Baianos to name a few. There are a lot of other artists still to talk about, but one name is particularly conspicuous by its absence.

Antônio Carlos Jobim

Also known as Tom Jobim, this colossus of Brazilian music is known as the main force behind the creation of Bossa Nova and one of the most talented and successful composers of the 20th century. You can’t mention the man without also mentioning his most famous composition, Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema). The original (Portuguese) lyrics are so much nicer than the English version that it’s reason enough to learn Portuguese in itself!

For me, it seems like this subject is almost to big to cover – I don’t know enough about him and besides, you can get a better run-down of this man and his story on Wikipedia.

Tom Jobim

Tom Jobim (sounds kind of like Tohn zho-been). The man credited (along with João Gilberto) with the creation of Bossa Nova.

 

So instead of trying to cover Jobim’s entire career, I’m going to focus on just a single song.

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Oct 13

What you need to know about the Brazilian Family

Today I’m taking it easy and letting someone else do the work! I am delighted to say that Rachel from Rachel’s Rantings in Rio is guest posting! I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with Rachel’s blog – it’s a brilliant mix of observations on everyday expat life in Rio, comments on what’s going on in Brazil and in her life and all number of other things in between.

Below is a lovely piece on the idiosyncrasies of the Brazilian family – thanks Rachel! I couldn’t have said it better (and I wouldn’t have dared! ;) )

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A Brazilian family is like an entourage, an opinionated and not necessarily accommodating entourage.

This is the “beauty” of a Brazilian family. They actually want to be a part of your everyday life. They would never kick their child out of the house at 18 yrs old. They sure as hell wouldn’t send him to a Scottish boarding school at 12. No, Brazilian families are like the mafia, you are a member for life and if you can live at home in your childhood bedroom so much the better.

Of course, just like the mafia, there are some definite perks. For starters, they love you. Seriously, I’m almost overwhelmed by the love and caring at times. As an American I don’t feel like I return the affection adequately. I’m not comfortable with people invading my red, white and blue bubble. I really have no idea what the Brits do with all the overt Brazilian affection. I’m sure that amount of hugging, kissing, calling, and chatting is far from what the Queen would consider proper.

As a foreigner, when you are really a part of a Brazilian family you know it. For starters you lose at least one Saturday a month, two if both of your spouse’s Grandparents are living. Those days are dedicated to the infamous Brazilian family lunch. By the way, the lunch goes from 12:30pm to 4pm.

Brazilian Family

[Tom speaking]: If there’s one thing Brazilian family likes, it’s a big group photo!

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