British Christmas Food in Brazil (part 2), OR: It’s a Mere Trifle

Yesterday I did my best to convince you all that I’m some kind of super-chef (it’s great having your own blog, you can tell stories that make you sound great). Today I’m going to continue in the same vein by telling you the story of this year’s Christmas day cooking adventure.

Pavlova - a delicious dessert that I didn't make this year.


After the stress and hassle of last year’s Beef Wellington, I made a point of opting out of the main dish and instead offered to make sobremesa (dessert). I decided to do a pavlova – none of my Brazilian family had heard of this delicious dessert made up of layers of meringue, cream and summer fruits, so it seemed like a great option for wowing them once again. Problem was we ended up being dangerously short of time. And it was stiflingly hot. And we had to make the dessert at our place in Santa Teresa and then transport it across town to my mother-in-law’s house in Gávea. I had visions of arriving across town and unveiling some broken, melted mess.

So we switched to Plan B.

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British Christmas Food in Brazil (part 1)

Yesterday I told you about my Véspera de Natal (Christmas Eve): food, drink and excitement in the form of Amigo Oculto.  Today I wanted to tell you about my Christmas day experience of a year ago (though in reality this will be a thinly disguised vehicle to allow me to boast about my self-proclaimed culinary prowess).

This time last year I had been in Rio for just 6 months and so my new family and I were still getting to know each other. Back in October of that year, my mother-in-law had casually asked about the traditional English foods. When I described Beef Wellington a strange look came over her face. I thought nothing more of it until a week before Christmas when another member of the family told me they were looking forward to trying my Beef Wellington on Christmas day! Ha ha, she had got me fully roped in! She reassured me that it would only be a few people, maybe 7 or 8 at the most, but by the end of Christmas Eve, more than 15 people had told me how curious they were about the meal I was cooking tomorrow. Oh great!

I get a bit annoyed when people tell me British food is bad. Sure you can find bad food in Britain, but great British food can hold its own against any other cuisine. The St John restaurants in London are a prime example. My full rant on this subject is at the bottom of the post…

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My (least?) favourite Brazilian Christmas Tradition

Today is Boxing Day, 26th December, and in a few moments I will be going to work. This is not because there is some important project being implemented out of office hours, nor is it because I am involved in some special end-of-year accounting work. It is because 26th December is just another working day here in Brazil. I have been struggling to come to terms with this information for the past week or so.

Not what I think of as a typical Christmas scene… There are at least 3 idiosyncratic details in this shot – the bikini sales man to the mid-right; the skimpy sunga mid-left; the 65 year old woman with a 30 year old’s body and a skimpy bikini to match! 


But what I lose today on Boxing Day, I gained on Christmas Eve. Here in Brazil, it seems that Christmas Eve is as big, if not bigger, than Christmas Day itself. We spent the day lounging on the beach trying to stay cool in the stifling heat. But later on that evening we had The Big Family Event.

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My Favourite Brazilian Christmas Treat

OK, don’t all laugh at me, but I heard a rumour going round that Christmas is fast approaching. I haven’t worked it out exactly, but my guess is that there aren’t many shopping days left until the big day itself. This information does not compute. I have spent every day this past week thanking whoever it was that invented air conditioning (and also thanking my father-in-law for donating an air conditioner a few weeks back).

Seriously, I put up a hammock yesterday. Hammocks and Christmas are not, in my book, words that go together.

Ah, my lovely hammock from lovely Colombia. This trusty fellow looked after me on an interminable boat ride down the Amazon and it's great to see him again. However, does this scene strike you as Christmasy? I guess the hammock does have a bit of a Santa colour scheme going on...

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Essential for a Brazilian Christmas?

A little while back I gave you my top Brazilian supermarket survival tips, born from many hours wandering around supermarkets here in Rio. I remember as a young kid, on some of my first trips abroad, being fascinated by the supermarkets of France (anyone remember Hollywood chewing gum?) and Germany (those yummy ginger cake/biscuits covered in chocolate – yum!). 

And I remember, aged 9, being awestruck the first time I saw Fluff: 


Are you a Fluffer-nutter? (

Even today I enjoy checking out the weird and wonderful products when I visit a new country. I remember noticing last Easter that all the Rio supermarkets took the same approach to Easter-eggs. They built a kind of wooden framework (a bit like a Pergola) and then hung the eggs at about face-height, meaning you have to duck under the eggs if you want to get past!

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