That Open Letter to Brazil


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…

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World Cup 2014 – Penalties on the beach



Phew! I’ve finally managed to find time to write a new post. I would like to post more often, but things have been ridiculously busy over the last month – I’ve been working 7 days a week with a mixture of food tours and writing assignments. So far my new career as freelance writer and food guide is going well and although I’m looking forward to having a little break, it feels good to be this busy.

Eat Rio Food Tours have been going really well and I am now up to number 38 in TripAdvisor’s list of Activities in Rio – take a look at some of the lovely things people have been saying.

Anyway, enough random talk, let’s get back to the football shall we? Last Saturday Brazil took on Chile in their first knock-out game and I decided to go out on assignment to capture the drama of the occasion (of course I had no idea quite how dramatic things would be). In the photo above you can see that the bar near Eat Rio HQ was taking things very seriously.

I hopped on the metro and was almost immediately absorbed into a group of Brazilians on their way to the big screens on Copacabana beach:

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Just like watching Brazil

During a recent Portuguese lesson (yes, I’ve restarted lessons!) a word came up that was unfamiliar to me – goleou. The context was the description of a football match and went something like “Last Saturday night Barcelona goleou AC Milan”. I asked my teacher about this word and she said “It’s when one team beats another team by many goals. You know, like a chocolate” (pronounced in the Portuguese manner: shocko-LATCH). Well, that left me even more confused/intrigued. I’d never heard of a chocolate in football. I decided some research was in order.

It turns out that the national obsession of Brazil has given rise to a rich and diverse set of words, phrases and sayings. I expect that today’s post will be just the tip of the football iceberg so if there any football experts out there then I’d love to hear about the ones I’ve missed out.


As my teacher told me, a goleada is a what English commentators might call a drubbing. A win with a large margin of victory. Goleada is the noun, goleou is the 3rd person past tense conjugation of the verb golear (to win by many goals). There is some discussion over exactly what constitutes a goleada, some saying that the margin of victory must be at least 3, others saying it must be 4.

Chocolate de futebol

This cartoon, entitled Blue Chocolate, celebrates the goleada of Brazilian side Cruzeiro over Venezuelan size Caracas back in 2008. Final score 3-0. The fox (?) of Cruzeiro is saying “Give Hugo Chavez a hug from me if you can”. Source


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Zombies of Brazil

If I said ‘Zombie Nation’ you might think I’m talking about a crappy video game from 1990, a horrible techno song that (apparently) US college kids like to sing when their team does something good, or a movie so bad that one reviewer described it as “a monstrously absurd turd of a film”.

If, on the other hand, I mentioned Nação Zumbi, at least some of my readers would think of a Brazilian band who are most definitely not crappy! I was lucky enough to be taken to one of their performances a couple of days after I arrived in Rio and I have to say they were awesome. Their style is a fusion of rock, hip-hop and traditional Brazilian music with some serious drumming thrown in. If you get the chance, go see them, they’re a great band. When I went to see them, I misheard the translation of the band name and assumed it meant Zombie Nation. In fact it means Zumbi Nation – this is Zumbi: 

Zumbi also known as Zumbi dos Palmares. His story is fascinating, inspiring and tragic.

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The most amazing natural wonder in Brazil.

That’s right, I’ve just gone right ahead and put a full stop at the end of today’s post title. No question marks today, it’s Friday, I’m feeling tough and I’m going to make a statement of fact. Lençois Maranhenses is the most amazing natural wonder in Brazil.

Before I tell you anything about it, I’m doing to do a quick backtrack regarding my tough Friday stance in that opening paragraph. I actually haven’t seen very much of Brazil – I’ve seen some of the Amazon region, a little of the north-eastern states of Maranhão and Ceara and a little of Rio state. I haven’t been down south to all those amazing beaches everyone tells me about. I haven’t been to the waterfalls of Iguaçu (and yes, I know they’re amazing). So I will listen if you tell me there is somewhere more spectacular (in fact I’d love to hear your opinions/suggestions).

But seriously, take a look at this:

Lençois Maranhenses, Maranhão, Brazil

Situated in Brazil’s poorest state, Maranhão, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park covers 270 km² and lies on the coast of north-east Brazil. Situated next to the sea, these huge white sand dunes are dotted with rain-fed, fresh water lagoons.


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Lupi catches bullet

I won’t resign and I won’t be sacked. I have the President’s full support. I guarantee it won’t happen…It will take a bullet to get me out of the ministry. And it will have to be a big bullet, because I’m a big guy. – Carlos Lupi, 8th November 2011.

Politics and corruption in Brazil appear to be intimately linked.


Brazil’s Labour minister, Carlos Lupi, announced his resignation yesterday. This makes him the 6th minister to resign because of corruption allegations since President Dilma Rousseff came to power (at the start of 2011). Lupi’s resignation comes after more than a month of allegations and revelations. As the quote above illustrates, this guy is quite a character. In response to the outcry to that followed the above quote, he made another statement apologising to the president:

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"To live in Brazil is shit…

…but it’s great.”

Who said that? None other than Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, the godfather of bossa nova, composer of The Girl from Ipanema and one of the great Brazilians of the 20th Century. The full quote is:

“To live in other countries is great, but it’s shit. To live in Brazil is shit but it’s great.”

Tom Jobim – legend.

Are you happy with your country?

Last week I saw this article on the Guardian website – for those of you who don’t do links, the title is Want to be happy? Don’t live in the UK. It goes on to list various statistics which demonstrate that people in the UK and Ireland pay more tax, enjoy fewer holidays, shorter life expectancy and fewer hours sunshine than France, Spain and various other countries in Europe. 

The title of the article made me smirk and feel a little smug (I certainly see more sunshine and enjoy more holidays than I did in London), but as a couple of friends pointed out, the UK is a great place to live! Amongst other things, we (or should I say they?) have a free health service for all, great education, low crime rates, low poverty and politicians who are publicly accountable. And yet people in the UK have been subjected to a steady stream of doom and gloom for years:

Broken Britain – this imagery and tone seems to come up again and again in the British press. Of course you need to acknowledge a problem before can solve it, but are the people who continually push this message doing it for political gain and/or to sell newspapers?


This contrasts starkly with Brazil, recently dubbed the ‘Country of Optimism’.

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How to beat the Kilo

Although I think of myself as being fairly adventurous when it comes to food, I am also a creature of habit, particularly when it comes to my everyday working life. 


Me proving my food-adventurousness with the help of a guinea pig (and several glasses of wine).

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Three Yummy Foreigners I Met in Rio

I sometimes think that the title of this blog is a little misleading. Originally I had planned to concentrate on all the delicious and (to me) previously unknown food I discovered in Rio, but as time passed I found there were all kinds of other interesting things that I wanted to write about. Now my selection criteria have broadened to include anything that I would show/tell a curious friend who hadn’t been to Brazil. 


Sure there’s some food in there, but there’s quite a lot of other stuff as well (this is a sneak-peak of the new-look Eat Rio coming soon).



But I’m still into the food! I have plans to tell anyone interested about a whole bunch of great Brazilian dishes, ingredients and perhaps even a few of what I deem to be Rio’s best places to eat. 

So today I’m going to tell you about a Peruvian, a Mexican and a Southeast Asian I met in Rio. They have quite different personalities but all three are totally yummy. 

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