Hello Eat Rio readers! After another prolonged break I’m back. Let’s kick things off with the Olympics. What were your impressions? To me it seemed like things went pretty well – I was working non-stop so didn’t get to see any actual sporting events, but I picked up a lot of feedback from my food tour guests and generally people had very good things to say. I also managed a quick visit to the Olympic Boulevard one afternoon.
Hi readers! It’s been a little while since my last entry and there are quite a few things to talk about today, so I thought I’d do today’s post as a kind of bulletin:
After 5 years it’s official: Eat Rio is a “Popular Website”
Eat Rio will be 5 years old next Tuesday! When I wrote that first post back in 2011 I had no idea that this little vanity project would have such a transformative effect on my life. A website is only relevant if it has readers so a big thanks to all of you who’ve visited over the years.
Those of you who follow the Eat Rio Facebook page will have seen that local English-language news site, The Rio Times, featured an interview with me yesterday (here’s the link). The reporter, Chesney Hearst, was super-nice and asked me lots of questions about my book, The Hunt Rio de Janeiro (plug: now available to purchase on-line in the US, the UK and Brazil!). I’m going to tell you lots more about the book in the next post (bet you can’t wait!), but I was rather tickled to see Eat Rio described in the article as a “popular website”. Readers, it’s been a long journey but we finally made it!
The first rule of English Club is you do not talk about English Club. The second rule of… Hang on – I’m thinking of something else. It’s actually totally fine to talk about English Club – it is comprised of 4 kids (aged 6-10) who live in Rio and like to get together from time to time to hang out and work on their English skills.
I met Alice, Lena, Nayana and Raoul last month when they invited me to join them for an afternoon of food tasting and discussion.
Before I arrived the kids had already been talking about their favourite foods and thinking of different ways to describe them. For me this is one of the great challenges of food writing – how do you get beyond “it’s delicious” or “it tastes bad” to find a more meaningful way to describe food and drink?
We all love to laugh at experts describing wine with ridiculously floral language (“I’m getting pencil shavings and a hint of cat pee”) but I started to sympathise the first time I tried to describe the flavour of Cupuaçú. One of our Eat Rio Food Tour guests once described this weird-tasting fruit as “like eating all the Skittles at once” which I thought was a pretty good effort!
Simple truths vs. A nuanced argument
In politics and in life, people like simple truths don’t they? It’s far more satisfying to hear someone ‘tell it like it is’ than it is to endure the lily-livered vacillations of a nuanced argument. Just look at what’s going on in the US right now if you’re in any doubt about that. The problem with simple truths is that while they are always simple they are rarely true.
I’ve been thinking over the subject of today’s post for a while and I expect many of you will partly, or entirely, disagree with my thoughts and conclusions. Other opinions are available and if you disagree with mine then fair enough, I’d be interested to hear your views in the comments section (you might even succeed in changing my mind).
The object of my pondering is “An Open Letter to Brazil” that did the rounds a few weeks back. The author is a “writer, thinker and life-enthusiast [who] writes personal development advice that doesn’t suck” (his words). He writes articles with titles like “How to attract women” and “Shut up and kiss her”. Quite the intellectual then…
There’s something rather depressing about visiting a blog for the first time in ages and finding it hasn’t been updated since your last visit. All those plans and aspirations of the author seem to be lying in a heap like some abandoned, unfinished construction project…
Well that ain’t happening to Eat Rio! Although this has been by far the longest I’ve gone without posting, my excuses are pretty solid.
First off, I’ve been writing a book! Facebook and Instagram followers will have seen the odd mention of this project – it completely took over my life from last October until about a week ago. Before you get any ideas of book launches and a glittering career as a novelist, it’s not that kind of book. It’s a guide book to Rio for an existing series of city guides. All the material is now in the hands of the editor/publisher so I finally have my life back and you can expect more information (and for me to plug it madly) once it’s published later this year.
Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened to me: I had a day off.
Of course it wasn’t a real day off – I answered about 25 work-related emails in the morning and did a few house-keeping jobs on the website in the afternoon – but, as you can see, I also found enough free time to finally write a new blog post.
Life has been pretty hectic recently. This time last week I was in Mexico with my colleagues from FoodieHub (formerly ‘Chowzter’).
FoodieHub have been making massive improvements recently so the trip to Mexico was a great chance to catch up with old friends and discuss how everything is going. For those unfamiliar, FoodieHub is a network of independent food writers located in cities all over the world. Each expert recommends the essential places to eat in their city, from street stalls and traditional family-run establishments right the way up to luxury fine dining. As the FoodieHub expert for Rio I guess I am duty-bound to recommend the service, but as it happens I’ve been using the site for all of my travels over the last 18 months and I’ve found it to be a brilliant way to track down the essential eats in unfamiliar cities (check out my list for Rio here).
Hello readers! Remember me? I’m not sure whether a 7 week break can really be called a hiatus, but that’s what I’m going with. I’ve probably gone on about this too much recently, but things have been really busy over the last few months! There have been all kinds of adventures – lots and lots of food tours, recruiting new staff, dabbling in a little catering, changing accountants and getting boring businessey stuff organised, working with a major US broadcaster, preparing for an upcoming trip to Mexico and also working on the brand new Eat Rio website. Oh yeah, and it looks like an actual physical book with my name on it could possibly be appearing next year!
The book thing has not been confirmed yet so we’ll have to see how that goes, but the new website is almost upon us. Now then, long-term readers will read the last part of that last sentence with a certain amount of (justified) scepticism. Over the last 18 months I’ve mentioned this ‘new website’ many times but until now it has been all talk. But the time has finally come! With the help of Tamara at Just Add Glitter, the new site is finally done!
Have you ever had one of those moments when you saw something so weird that you just couldn’t explain it? A few years ago I had such a moment when I was looking out over Guanabara Bay towards Rio’s near neighbour, Niterói. The night sky above the bay is often pretty busy – passenger jets taking off and landing at Santos Dumont airport, helicopters buzzing around, perhaps the odd fireworks display or some beams of light coming up from a concert somewhere. However, on this occasion I spotted something quite different.
Hi everyone! Remember me? Well I wouldn’t blame you if you’d forgotten all about Eat Rio – it’s been a shameful 4 weeks since my last post. I’ve never left it that long before and such a long hiatus deserves an explanation. How about tell you what’s been going on since this time last month?
Eat Rio Food Tours
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.