Posts Tagged ‘brazil’
so hello everyone. it’s been a wee while, no? more than a wee while. a long while.
we have been travelling a bit. first we went to queenstown. it was still quite wintry down there but gosh it was beautiful. we walked along the lake, drank lots of coffees to warm up, ate excellent pizza from winnies, travelled on the earnslaw steamship to celebrate fathers’ day .. it was a good time.
L and i spent a few days in pahiatua with my mum and dad. it’s quite different to queenstown, let’s say. i like it though. it’s friendly. people say hi in the street. the countryside is quite cool. there are excellent op shops. and brockies cafe makes a lemon and date slice which alone is worth the trip.
pahiatua is close to palmerston north – the place to go if you want to do a big supermarket shop. there is not a lot else there, i’m sorry to say.
and most recently, L, the rockstar and i went to brazil. we spent most of the time in brasília which was in the middle of the rainy season and not terribly photogenic, bless it. there was a lot of family time. but we snuck away for a night to pirenópolis, a colonial town about 2 hours’ drive away (in central-west terms, that’s practically nothing). it was good to get away, just the three of us.
and a bonus piece of hee-larious brazinglish for your pleasure and delectation. the best bit: this shirt was spotted in quite a chic store in shopping iguatemi brasília, a very very exclusive mall for those who prefer to not to rub shoulders with the great unwashed (which also happens to be the nearest source of decent coffee to the rockstar’s mum’s house; hence my presence there). binge drinking! it’s the new hip trend from the west!
so yes! i am back. i will write more shortly – right now i have to go and stop L from pulling all the CDs off the shelves and then proceeding to chew the corners. as i write she is nomming down on feminist sweepstakes by le tigre. that’s my girl.
observant readers of this blog will know that the rockstar and i were born in different places. he is a native of brasília in brazil; i am straight outta AB25, the aberdeen royal infirmary. but then i lived in brazil as a teenager and developed a taste for brazilian street food and melissa shoes; he grew up listening to the beatles, wearing doc martens and playing in bands heavily influenced by the gang of four and siouxsie. so we have more in common than we don’t, really.
but there is one matter on which cultural differences might always remain. and that is the question of whether guaraná or irn-bru is better.
i refer, of course, to the signature soft drinks of our respective countries.
both date back to the first decade of the 20th century. both are made of exotic ingredients: guaraná from the fruit of the tree of the same name, irn-bru supposedly “from girders” (the ads said this for years, although according to the bible that is wikipedia, “though the closest one can come to substantiating this claim is the 0.002% ammonium ferric citrate listed in the ingredients”. mm, tasty). both are eye-achingly sweet.
and, above all: in their respective markets, both outsell coca-cola. now ain’t that something? i even remember hearing that scotland is the only market where something other than coke is offered as the default soft drink with your mcdonalds combo meal.
today at the ontrays emporium in petone i picked up a can of each so that the rockstar and i could perform a taste test. at first sight, the guaraná is a pale ambery colour — the irn-bru bright, bright orange. though there are many brands of guaraná available in brazil, only one ever seems to get exported, and that’s guaraná antárctica, the biggest seller of them all.
the rockstar took a generous swig of the guaraná, then a slightly more cautious one of the irn-bru. he declared the guaraná “sweeter” and the irn-bru “more bitter”. this is from a guy who routinely takes 5 sugars in his coffee. i am not sure the word bitter had ever been used in the same sentence as the word(s) irn-bru before today, so i instantly had to confirm this for myself.
guaraná is supposedly made from a fruit and the drink does taste fruity. god knows i’ve tried to pin down exactly *what* fruit. i can only come up with this: imagine a strong synthetic apple taste with an overlay of a not-acidic-at-all fake orange flavour. there’s some kind of tropicalish aroma floating around as well .. think passionfruit or mango “juice drink”. i’m not helping at all, am i? it’s sweet and yet weirdly refreshing. it goes down smoothly. on a hot day where there’s churrasco on offer, i actually prefer diet guaraná with ice to a cold beer. yum.
irn-bru is instantly brighter on the tongue with a way more intense fizz. like guaraná, the taste is instantly recognisable and practically indescribable. a mild bubble gum, maybe? not at all bitter, except if we’re talking the sour effect of carbonation, i guess. if you’re accustomed to the taste of guaraná, this is maybe a harsher drop. but as an accompaniment to a traditional scottish pudding supper it would be supreme. i tried to convince the rockstar to take a mouthful of irn-bru to wash down a bite of another great scottish institution, the tunnock’s caramel wafer. it’s amazing he didn’t fall into a diabetic coma on the spot, really.
anyway. the rockstar’s verdict: the irn-bru wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t sure if he’d choose to drink it again (sacrilege!!). as for myself: both can co-exist happily in my culinary universe. much to my dentist’s despair.
There is no real reason why the name for a hot dog in Portuguese – which is a completely literal translation, cachorro quente – should be so amusing to those of us who speak English. Somewhere along the way, we decided to give a sausage-in-a-bun such a bizarre name, so why shouldn’t Brazilians adopt it? All the same, it makes me smile a little bit, thinking about all the other weird names we give to snack foods (angels on horseback, pigs in blankets, mousetraps) and how the names lose any significance until you come across them in another context. Another language, another country.
And make no mistake, Brazilians have taken to the hot dog with the same gusto that they’ve adopted – and adapted – many other types of street food from around the world. All over the country, as night falls, packets of franks are slit open in kitchens and hot dog stands materialise on street corners. Debate rages about the best cachorro quente to be had in any city, and so it is in Brasília – from the chatter of social media to the elevated pages of Veja magazine.
We asked around in Brasília (the rockstar’s home town) and were pointed towards 308 Sul, the shopping area universally identified as the “street with the little church”. And in front of the little church – actually the Igrejinha de Nossa Senhora da Fátima – we found an excellent hot dog.
So how is this different to your standard New York frank and why does it merit an inclusion in this series? Well, first off, while this is still a sausage in a long soft bun, Brazilians have taken the concept and tweaked it into something different.
Rather than floating in a slightly rank and oily brine, the sausages for cachorro quente are heated in a tomato sauce which permeates the meat. The split-open bun will usually be doused with a little of the sauce before adding the sausage. It’s delicious and it helps to take away a little of the aggressively smoked flavour of your average frankfurter.
Then, the major point of difference: the toppings. The rockstar says the very bare minimum of adornments for a cachorro quente should be tomato ketchup, yellow American-style mustard and mayonnaise. So far, so unexceptional. But then come the extras .. and this is where it gets a bit crazy. For each cachorro quente, our maestro dipped into plastic tubs of fillings. At this cart, a “completo” includes tuna, onion mayonnaise, sweetcorn and fried potato sticks. And it can get weirder: the mighty Wikipedia mentions mashed potato, beetroot, toasted cassava flour, even cream cheese. In my opinion (and the rockstar’s) none of these things have any place on a hot dog. But it seems we were in the minority: while we ate, a steady stream of customers came up to the cart and almost all of them ordered all the trimmings.
With this amount of sloppy filling to tackle, it’s unsurprising that cachorro quente are usually eaten standing up in the street, accompanied with plenty of paper napkins. And the verdict: the rockstar declared this to be a particularly fine example of the genre.
You don’t have to travel all the way to Brasília to experience the cachorro quente, by the way. Unlike the pastel, this street food is easily replicated at home. Sweat a sliced onion and a sliced green capsicum in a small amount of olive oil, add a tin of tomato puree and a tin of whole peeled tomatoes, season to taste and leave to thicken a little. Then add your sausages: I used Heller’s Continental Frankfurters which the rockstar pronounced “just like back home”, the highest possible accolade. Heat until the sausages are piping hot and then serve in a soft white roll. Tomato ketchup, mustard and mayo are, as we’ve already seen, mandatory; I’ll leave the corn, the tinned spaghetti and the chocolate sauce up to you
Cachorro quente stand, in front of the Igrejinha, entrequadra 308 Sul, Asa Sul, Brasília — and on street corners all over Brazil ..
To start a series on Brazilian street food with anything other than the pastel (or, to give it its proper name, “pastel de feira”, literally “street market pie”) would be folly. Let’s be clear: as much as Brazil is one country, she is also many countries. Each region has its own cuisine and its own traditions .. and of course, its own street food. The beaches in Rio have the Globo biscuit (which will feature here in due course) and the streets of Salvador have the acarajé (which won’t: I’m afraid I just can’t eat acarajé as the dendê oil makes me ill, and besides, others have written about it far better than I ever could). But everywhere – or at least, everywhere I’ve visited – has the pastel. And with good reason.
The pastel is, in its purest form, an envelope of wheat-flour pastry, filled with something tasty. The traditional fillings are white cheese, minced meat or hearts-of-palm; fancy-pants gourmet variations include salt cod, shrimp and cream cheese or even sweet fillings like guava paste or cinnamon-banana. The pastel is crimped at the edges and fried in very hot oil until the outside of the pastry blisters and the inside is hothothot.
In Brasília, it is always said that the best pastel in town is served at the bus station. The Pastelaria Viçosa, to be exact. Ignore the less-than-elegant surroundings; here, the boys turn out thousands of pasteis a day and their fame is deserved. The house special, two pasteis and a cup of sugar-cane juice, is just R$2.75 — which is $2.20 NZ or $1.60 US. In this incredibly expensive city, this might just be your best value calories-per-buck feast.
Turnover here is brisk and the pasteis are super-fresh. Eaten standing up at the counter, the first bite will be as every first bite of a pastel should be: a little puff of steam rising as you break the pastry shell with your teeth. Don’t worry if the locals stare at the sight of a foreigner: within a bite, you’ll be transported.
In São Paulo, the Mercado Municipal is the place to go. There are a number of pastel places there but the one we chose was the Bar do Mané. A cheese pastel here runs to R$5, nearly twice the price of the Viçosa, but it’s a classy affair: larger, far more cheese and you can actually sit down to eat it, showering pastry crumbs at every bite.
Your first few bites of a cheese pastel will yield little more than pastry but as you work your way down, you’ll hit the mother-lode. The cheese is like a salty but mild-cured cheddar with the same propensity to separate as it melts .. so you’ll need to watch for the odd spot of oil. This ain’t diet food. Calorie estimates I found on the internet say you’re looking at about 250 for an average pastel, but I simply cannot see how this can be true .. I reckon it’s more like about a million calories. But worth every sinful, salty bite.
Finding a good pastel is a question of asking a local, but visitors can find a good one pretty easily. The rockstar says you should look for pasteis that are fried to your order, not ones that are pre-fried and left in a warmer; and my personal tip would be that if the pasteis are good, there will be a crowd of people in the place eating them, any time of the day or night.
Pastelaria Viçosa, ground floor, Rodoviária do Plano Piloto (Central Bus Station) Brasília
Bar do Mané, Mercado Municipal Paulistano, Rua da Cantareira, São Paulo
i am back in wellington, you guys, but i still dream of the sea. we had a wonderful few days in são paulo (family craziness, lots of hugs and incredible pizza) and then headed to rio where we had the use of a marvellous apartment in ipanema .. there were days on the beach, evenings walking along copacabana watching the throngs, nights wandering aimlessly while sweet smelling tropical trees drenched the dark streets in heavy scent. it was just perfect. but it’s nice to be home, too.
while i was away i put together a little series of articles about brazilian street food and i’m going to post them here .. along with the usual quantity of daftness about shoes and style, of course. in time, i may decide to separate parts of the blog .. traditional wisdom dictates of course that fashion and food don’t combine, although traditional wisdom dictates a lot of bullshit also. but! for the meantime, i hope you’ll enjoy this mishmash of things that i find wonderful. because i enjoy bringing them to you.
hello, my name is ninetwelvetwentyfive and i am addicted to melissa shoes. seriously. the clever designs. the intelligent and forward-thinking selection of collaborators. the fact they’re vegan and recyclable. the delicious smell of bubblegum. the sheer comfort factor, whereby i can wear even the most vertiginous of high heels for hours. all these are huge points in melissa’s favour, but what i love most is the sheer fabulousness.
yes, they’re all vivienne westwood anglomania. left to right: ultragirl II, lady dragon, three straps elevated.
if you are lucky enough to live in brazil, you can get the melissa range in the fabulous galeria melissa in são paulo .. or in shopping centres all over the country. i like the jelly stores .. they carry the complete range as well as accessories, and the girls in the shops are super-friendly. if you’re in australasia then the best place to get them is the melissa australia online store. the discovery that they ship to new zealand may be very damaging to my poor credit card.
and then, there’s these. a top competitor for all-time best vintage shopping score. i bring you: my new chloé boots.
found lurking in the footwear section of the ever-fabulous recycle boutique .. taken home, re-soled and re-heeled with new insoles (i think you should always do this with vintage shoes; apart from lengthening the life of the shoes, it makes them new and sparkly-looking and banishes any memories of the previous owner’s feet) and massaged with nourishing polish, they’re just everything wonderful. i find it hard to track down knee high boots that go all the way up to my knee, but these do. perfect for banishing cruel southerly breezes in this lovely summer weather we’re having :-/
what are some of your recent finds?
so, erm, yeah. about that gap in posting. here’s what i’ve been up to, in pictures:
(this photo was not taken by me but by my super-talented mum. i love it, so i have posted it here.)
first two brasília, at the sound shell; last four padre bernardo, which is where the rockstar’s family have a farm. and where his party was. more coming, promise.
by the time you read this (isn’t scheduled publishing grand?) i will be on a plane on the way to brazil. i don’t think i will be taking these shoes, as they are not quite brazil-style, really. brazil does not encourage dressing like a parisian schoolgirl, in thick black tights and short black skirts; it is more colourful, more fluid, more relaxed.
things i am looking forward to, in no particular order:
- watermelon smoothies, made with ice and a dash of sweetener
- shopping for melissa shoes, possibly several pairs
- sun-warmed skin, hair going lighter at the ends
- seeing the rockstar in his natural habitat (heh)
- showing my parents around my adopted home (well, one of them) and watching them fall in love with it just like i did
- learning how to cook more brazilian dishes, with a view to a possible project (!!! very exciting)
- seeing my friends! gorgeous television presenter friend, dashing superstar lecturer friend, hopefully even the bbcbrasil posse at our favourite rio-style bar in são paulo (yeah, i know, contradiction much?)
- seeing my brazilian family! gosh, i’ve missed them so much
- just being in brazil, the one place on this beautiful blue planet where i feel properly at ease ..
- .. with the rockstar, the one person who could make it even more special.
oh me, oh my. it’s like the two halves of my life .. the dislocation between which has caused me so much disquiet .. are finally coming together and becoming one. it’s the strangest and yet the most natural thing.
anyway. posts will be forthcoming, just as soon as i figure out a good place to post *from*. there is a lot i want to say about brazilian fashion, about globalisation of style and how brazil seems to firmly resist it .. and, of course, about my beloved melissa shoes. i’m already dead keen to buy a pair of the vivienne westwood lady dragons .. because, well, come *on*, i resisted when i was in rio in april and i’ve regretted it many times since .. but would i be brave enough to buy the scent? we shall see .. xoxo