Monthly Archive: March 2013

Mar 27

Brazilian Brands: Toddy & Toddynho

When I think of Brazilian food, the dishes that spring to mind are feijoada, moqueca, pão de queijo, picanha, farofa and I’d better stop before I start drooling on the keyboard. But if you asked someone else they might provide an alternative list: doce de leite, beijinhos de coco, pudim, kindim, pão de mel, creme de papaia com cassis and (of course) brigadeiro.

Brazilian cuisine provides plenty of satisfaction for savoury food people like me, but it also has a lot for you glucophiles. Today’s Brazilian brand falls squarely into the latter category – something this sweet was sure to be successful in Brazil wasn’t it?

 

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Toddynho

Toddy & Toddynho

Name: Toddy / Toddynho (sounds like Todgey and Todge-EEN-yo respectively).

Product: Chocolate powder / chocolate milk.

Background: In 1916 Pedro Erasmo Santiago, a Spanish immigrant in Puerto Rico, lost his entire Cacau plantation in a hurricane. He moved to the USA where he worked his way up from toilet cleaner to prosperous businessman in the food industry.

In 1928 he bought the rights to the brand name “Toddy” for all of South America. Prior to this, “Toddy” was the name of a Scottish drink made of blended whisky, sugar/honey and spices, served hot. However, Pedro’s product, a sweetened cocoa powder to be made into a chocolate drink, was just as often served cold.

In 1933 Pedro Santiago was granted permission to market Toddy in Brazil. He set up a factory in Lapa and set about marketting his product with innovative publicity stunts, such as using planes to write the name of his product in smoke in the skies over Rio.

In the following decades, Toddy became a hugely popular drink across Brazil. Although Toddy was the first chocolate powder in Brazil, other brands soon followed, notably Nescau made by evil Swiss company Nestlé.

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Mar 25

Photo Post: Eat Rio Graffiti!

Last week we had a couple of guests from Colombia staying with us. One of these guests was a graffiti artist from Bogotá who goes by the name of Dast. Those of you who have picked up on my street art obsession will not be surprised to hear that I was rather excited about the idea of having a real-life grafiteiro to stay. Not just that, but Dast just so happens to do some very cool, geometrically themed graffiti – check it out.

A few hours after Dast and his friend left, Mrs Eat Rio and I decided to go out for a stroll. We hadn’t got more than a few minutes from our house when we turned a corner and saw this:

Dast-Eat-Rio

My very own piece of Eat Rio Graffiti! I had no idea about this until I turned a corner and saw it! A very nice surprise!

 

Wow! Dast had very kindly added an Eat Rio dedication to his fine work. Of course art appreciation is a subjective matter, but in my opinion at least, Dast also did everyone a favour as this gate had previously been covered in some really annoying scrawlings. I accept the fact that I could be a little biased on this matter…

This kind of art is ephemeral and I have no idea whether this will last a week, a month or a year, but I must confess that seeing it gave me a little glow of pride. Many thanks to Dast – come again soon!

 

Mar 22

Brazilian Easter Madness

I am starting to get the impression that Easter is fast approaching. Do you know how I know? Well there have been some strange things going on around Rio.

First of all, in the run-up to Easter it seems that Brazilian children are being encouraged to dress up in seriously scary costumes – this must be something like Halloween in other countries. Brace yourself for something seriously spine-chilling:

Páscoa

Like characters from a horror film. Truly terrifying…

 

Moving swiftly on, Easter brings other strange phenomena to Brazil.

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Mar 20

Photo Post: You must be mine

When the sun comes out in Rio, things get very hot! If you have to stay out on the street for any amount of time, you’ll find yourself looking for some shade before long. This particular street in Copacabana has the shade situation pretty well covered.

Street-Copacabana

This tunnel of trees in Copacabana ensures that you won’t have to worry about finding a shady spot.

 

Does anyone recognise this street? Here’s a clue: It was named after a Brazilian revolutionary heroine who was born in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina and who died in Italy.

Her future husband’s first words to her were “You must be mine” (I imagine he growled this while fixing her with his best look of smouldering desire…).

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Mar 18

Toz and The Seller of Happiness

During my first 6 months in Rio, my journey to work took me past the long wall that runs opposite Jardim Botânico. This wall is covered with some of Rio’s finest graffiti and because I passed it every day I was soon familiar with every piece on the wall.

As well as recognising the individual works, after a while I started to recognise the characters and styles of the different artists too. One of my favourites was a guy called Toz (real name Tomaz Viana) and the collective he was part of, the Fleshbeck Crew.

Toz-Shimu

Toz calls these colourful characters “Shimu”. Their cheerful, mischievous faces pop up all over Rio.

 

Toz (sounds like ‘Toyzh’) has been in the news a lot recently – his enormous work in the port area of Rio deservedly gained a lot of attention.

But I wanted to tell you about another piece of Toz’s work. I was wandering through Gávea about 6 months ago when I saw this:

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Mar 17

Photo Post: Beach Acrobatics!

Ah, Saturday was another nice relaxing day on Copacabana beach! If I have a few drinks on Friday night then I find that nothing clears away the heavy head like a nice swim in the sea followed by a relaxing snooze. But not everyone is so lazy at the beach!

Last weekend I was taking pictures of the sea-spray caught in the late-afternoon sun when a rather outgoing individual approached me and told me to follow him and bring my camera. Here’s what he did:

Beach-backflip

Raoni doing this party-piece!

 

Afterwards he told me his name was Raoni - apparently an indigenous name meaning Jaguar, made famous by Chief Raoni Metuktire, a campaigner for indigenous rights and protection of the Amazon.

The Raoni I met in Copacabana appeared to be a bit drunk in high spirits and told me enthusiastically that he had been to Ipswich (in the UK) as part of a Brazilian youth gymnastic team. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him at first, but then I thought “Who’d make up a story about Ipswich?” – surely it’s too obscure to be a lie!

Anyway, he was a funny guy and his leap made for a pretty cool photo!

Mar 15

Portuguese Shorthand

Despite my tendency to be a little grumpy at times, I have somehow managed to make some friends and acquaintances during my time in Brazil. This means that around 50% of the text on my Facebook time-line is in Portuguese.

This has proved to be rather a good learning aid. If I want to know why Maurício’s status update got 18 likes, I’m going to have to work out what he actually said! But deciphering text posted on Facebook, Twitter, emails and text messages is not just a matter of looking up words in a dictionary.

 

 

Winston-Churchill

OMG Churchill! Didn’t you know that gesture is rude in Britain? Rofl lol…

Portuguese Text Speak

Text Speak has been around for longer than you might think. Winston Churchill received a letter containing an “OMG” way back in 1917!

But this character- and time-saving communication form really proliferated with the introduction of text messaging and the internet. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the common English examples such as lol, rofl, etc (that last one is Latin!), but how well do you know Portuguese shorthand?

Below is a list of the abbreviations I’ve come across – have I missed any out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 13

An illicit beach treat

If you were to ask me about the beach vendors of Rio, I would tell you about good guys with cool-boxes full of icy cold beers slung over their shoulders and a sack of Biscoito Globo in hand. I would describe people dressed in Arab style clothes selling esfiha and kibe, and the vendors laden with beach-balls, bikinis and cangas. I’d tell you about the shouts of “Alô mate! Alô limão!” from the orange clad ice-tea sellers and the clanking of the ice cubes in their twin metal barrels.

Here’s another thing I’d mention: Queijo Coalho (sounds like: KAY-zho KWAH-lyo). “Queijo” is Portuguese for “cheese” and the word coalhado means something like curdled or clotted. The first time I tried this firm, white cheese I had no idea how best to eat it. I had bought it in a supermarket and when I got home I cut it into chunky slices and put it in a sandwich. The result was not good – it was very salty, dense and generally quite disappointing.

Some weeks later Mrs Eat Rio and I were at the beach and a guy wandered past with a small metal tripod suspended above a stout wooden handle. When I was told that he was selling grilled queijo coalho I decided it was time to give this cheese another chance.

queijo-coalho-na-brasa

Back in the good old days, queijo coalho na brasa (grilled queijo coalho) was a favourite beach treat!

 

When grilled over hot coals, this cheese is transformed! It is quite similar to halloumi – it has a salty bite and squeaks against your teeth as you eat it! Before getting started, the vendor asks if you’d like oregano which is optionally sprinkled over the cheese before the grilling. A block of cheese is then mounted on a skewer and turned slowly over the glowing coals until it is browned and crisp on all sides. The end result is perfect for the hunger that develops over the course of a day relaxing on the beach:

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Mar 12

Photo Post: Lightning over Guanabara

Someone told me today that Brazil is hit by more lightning than any other country on earth. A little sceptical Googling suggests that Central Africa has more electrical storm activity, but let’s put weather fact pedantry to one side and agree that Rio has its fair share of spectacular lightning storms.

This is probably the most famous lightning shot taken in Rio – Cristo Redentor being struck full on the head (the photographer was Custódio Coimbra).

My offering from Saturday night isn’t quite so dramatic, but notice that I’ve got two lightning bolts in my shot, so you know… in a way my photo is twice as good! rs

Lighning-in-Rio

Makes a change from photos of the sunrise doesn’t it?

 

 

Mar 10

Brazilian Brands: Balas Tamarindo Marllon

Brazilian Brands is back! Before we get going I should explain a little about the word bala. If you type this word into Google Translate, the first translation it returns is “bullet”. However, we aren’t going to be looking at some special brand of Brazilian ammunition! We’ll be looking at the other meaning of bala: “candy” (or “sweets” as we say in the UK).

I’m guessing that the ‘bullet’ meaning dates back to the days when ammunition was a spherical ball of lead that was pushed down into a musket. Then when candies became popular, they were similarly shaped and so took the same name. Or could it be the other way round? Does musket shot pre-date candy?

Regardless of how the word and its meaning originated, you should know that the term bala perdida means “lost bullet” (literally), but a better translation would be “stray bullet”. Sadly this term is in the news quite regularly in Rio (and many other Brazilian states), when people are hit by stray bullets.

kayser-bala-perdida

The ‘lost bullet’ looks at a picture which says “You are here”. Source

 

Anyway, today we’re talking about the tasty, sugary balas, so let’s get on with it!

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Bala-Tamarindo-Marllon

Balas Tamarindo Marllon

Name: Balas Tamarindo Marllon.

Product: Balas de Tamarido (Tamarind flavoured candy).

Description: The manufacturer is called ‘Balas Marllon’ and is based on the other side of Guanabara bay in a town called São Gonçalo. They make a variety of other candies, but these Tamarind flavoured are the best known and most widely sold. Inside the colourful wrapper you will find a dark brown, slightly sticky ball.

Although the Tamarind tree is native to Africa, it was introduced into Central and South America in the 16th Century and has become a common ingredient in Brazilian cuisine, particularly in the north where it is made into a refreshing drink.

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