cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wanna Know a Secret?

I'm in Brasil!

Yeah i know i've been giving you all the dramatic sob story novelettes on graduation, moving, leaving, change, and yadda--and then all of a sudden im in Brazil? Uh, you're asking--what?! Well, would you expect anything less from the Salty Cod?

We will be here for a while, so please pay me a few more visits if you'd like to continue the adventure with us. Salty is going to keep track of the brazilian food and culture, and of course the ever-entertaining, often awkward, pleasantly sporadic, and sometimes a bit triste vie quotidienne of this Cod girl. I do not know where to begin, as brazil is a big country, there are big topics. So, let's do what I did first--so let's go to the Mercadão, to follow in Tony (Bourdaine's) footsteps. Oh lala. Do i need a life? Bem vindos todos ao Brasil! on y va.

Before we talk about this sandwich, i'll answer the wtf question that's at the tip of your tongue--did you think i was going back to Paris? I am told too often that i'm random and impulsive. ehem. but well i'm in brazil what can you do. This trip is a visit to my editor...i think it a lot easier to go over the manuscripts in person after all. don't you agree? Alright, so about Brazil. Did you know that Brazil covers more landmass than the continental united states? true story. I flew into São Paulo and H, well editor's name is now H because i will begin fatiguing myself from typing the word editor ad nauseum, and well he can't hide from initialdome now, picked me up and then we spent perhaps 2 hours trying to get through the jungle city. Tony referred to São Paulo as the conjugal result of New York vomiting on LA. hmmmm....yeah pretty much true. Huge is an understatement. We got lost looking for the Mercadão de São Paulo only about six times. Don't worry though, we are very good at asking every third person for directions--and each person we asked, i must note, dropped absolutely everything to point us in the right direction. Vendors, workmen in a hurry, people caught in mid conversation. it's rather, nice; actually. When we finally got to the Mercadão, i thought ahh Tony, yes i'm a creeper i seem to make it an effort to go every where you have been when i visit a new city. wander wander wander...ahah! there it is, crowded and crawling with hungry people.

In line (line??) or rather jumble of people at the order counter, we (well not me) somehow started talking to these three old men behind us. They kept nodding to me and smiling, but really all i can do is nod and smile (you think i speak portuguese? well i don't. yet) H explained to them that i was American, they all lit up; "ohhh i have lived in Salt Lake City for 20 years with my daughter's family, they are all over there at the end of the counter. We had to come here because of some show my son in law saw on tv...." show? H and I looked at each other; some other crazy has come here just because of Tony? Hey now that's our dorkiness! this guy is cramping my style. It turns out mr. mormon, his brazilian wife, and their gaggle of children were on holiday to Sao Paulo and said that he heard Tony say it was the best sandwich on the planet, so he had to get it. His conclusion: it was expensive bologna. My opinion: go back to Salt Lake.

We got a mortadella sandwich, the specialty of course, "o sanduiche mais famoso do mercadao." Mortadella is the grandfather of bologna--originating in Italy as a large thick sausage of pork meat hashed with spices. favorite as you all know. it is heated on the grill with a big piece of cheese, and then stacked onto a bun. Sandwich? Well, we only bought one, and i just ate the most inner slices of meat away from the bread. Was it the end all be all? no. but did Tony do it? yes. So was it worth the wandering hours? yes. wandering lost in a new city is our all time favorite activity here at the Salty Cod, made all the more pleasant (i didn't think that was possible) with an assistant, of course.

It's raining right now. Rain in warm weather is very strange to me. It is winter here, and supposedly, so i've heard, São Paulo receives a lot of rain. I can't seem to be able to escape celestial crying; Seattle to São Paulo. Yeash. But now you know. Luckily though, H doesn't live in São Paulo. haha i tricked you all--a little over an hour north west of São Paulo is the city Indaiatuba; much smaller, cleaner, quieter, prettier, and safer than the big gun down south. Driving in you have to pass the hedge lines of billion dollar mansions guarded by stone walls and barbed wire; good god who the hell lives here, i thought, the president of Monaco? The standard of living here is quite a bit different from São Paulo; there is such disparity of wealth in this country that it is impossible to comprehend until you actually see it. Indaiatuba is mostly middle class, though there is representation on both sides of the spectrum. and a lot of dogs...too...many...damn dogs.

Well that's going to be the beginning. I've had a lot of rice and beans accompanying too many good meals already so far. Things like corn juice, manioc root, lots of tapioca flour, cheese, fruit, fresh squeezed fruit juice, coconut water (you drink it in the coconut with a straw. it's crazy) meat, meat, meat....ahhhh'll hear about it all. trust me.

I feel like im in the twilight zone here actually; besides H, there are no English speakers around me except little brother K who is really not that bad actually. But i don't speak Portuguese. And guess who's gone to work from six to six. So dictionaries, miming, sounds, do you know how simply amusing it is to be at a tea party in an aunt's house with the whole party of non-english speakers searching the kitchen and going back and forth reading...contem gluten...gluten, gluten...ahhh! não contem gluten! ahahaha; i love it here. Right now some kids are playing pool in their garage across the street listening to Jason Mraz and that damn poker face song, i had a vegetable and fruit vocabulary lesson this morning from mom while unloading grocery-bags after my run which i yet again managed to get lost during--but like we have said before, you can make anywhere feel like your home as long as you want it to. and i feel at home here. so let's get to know brazil, shall we.

a bientot


The Cooking Photographer said...

I can't wait to read about all your food adventures in Brazil! I hope you're having a total blast.

I haven't been to Brazil yet, but it's my father's favorite country to visit. Maybe your posts will motivate me to head that direction.

anna said...

Oooh Brazil! Definitely a good call following Tony's footsteps.

Lori said...

Are you staying in Sao Paulo? If you can make it down to Curitiba, it is a must. The weather there really reminds me of Seattle especially right now. The food scene is fabulous there as well. I can provide lots of tips. :)

It is the time of year for Festa Junina so if you can find one take advantage. You'll get to try all kinds of traditional foods.

If you do find yourself in Parana while you are there let us know. I'm in the States right now, but headed back to Brazil next week. Have a great time!

Nani said...

WOW!!!! YOU DID IT!!! YOU DID IT!!!! I can't believe it. I am so happy for you. Well, you will have to write me an email to tell me more... haha. It will be such a great experience. Very different, for sure. I will be coming here to read more. Hope you enjoy yous stay there. How long will you be staying? I think I will be in Brazil in August... not sure yet.

Have Fun!!! And thank you for letting me know!!! :)

The Cute Sister said...

am i still invited to come?!

Sierra said...

jason mraz and poker face??? are you sure i am not there? hah so i have a working computer again...i still dont have anything off of my old hard drive, but for now i'll settle for having a new computer...anywho back to your blog. it sounds like youre having an amazing time and that sandwich sounds amazing. i wish i could eat it!!

Marta said...

YAY for you in Brazil and us vicariously enjoying your adventures through the blog-window! Thanks for sharing your initial experiences and impressions. How long are you staying? You'll see, by the end you'll have picked up lots of Portuguese and you'll be mingling yourself with the locals and flawlessly shopping at the markets!
I will continue to read about your stay :)

Aran said...

how cool is that mallory! we will live vicariously through you!