Lately I have been on an Asian food kick. Primarily because a week or so ago I visited Sao Paulo’s Liberdade district for the first time. Let me just say that this place has been here the entire time I’ve lived in Brazil (and apparently before that too). It’s been here and I, being but an hour and a half away, never visited. Stupid. Liberdade is market town. Consisting of ninety percent Japanese products (or perhaps just vendors, the products are from all over) with a bit of Chinese and a very scarce pinch of Vietnamese and Thai products. So sadly I really can’t call it China Town. I will let you know one fact that every Brazilian tour guide/website will point out to you – Brazil has the greatest population of Japanese (descendants) living outside of Japan, and yes it is for the exact reason you are thinking of; agricultural work boom at the turn of the (20th) century. The point I am trying to make here is that Thai curry paste, spring roll wrappers, glutinous rice flour and every possible jarred sauce condiment ever created by man is now at my disposition. Expect some spring roll photos soon. But not today.
Lately I’ve been distracted. I received a catering request for a large business breakfast last week; I collaborated with a friend in the business and we sent our proposal. Never heard from the lady again. Not even a rejection letter, nothing. Even after sending a follow up letter. First rejection and we don’t even know why. Oh well. There will be a next time.
Now to the distraction. Nearly two weeks ago my family dog [in Seattle] died unexpectedly before her time. The sadness over losing her hit me greater than I thought the passing of a non-human creature could ever throw at me. I’ve been around dogs my whole life. Since consciousness, there has always been a dog in my family. My husband, on the other hand, had never had a dog in his life, and since getting married had made it clear that he was not a dog (or any creature) person. So I never thought about dogs. I still have dogs, I would think, they just live at my parents’ house. When Olivia died I unreservedly cried for days. My tears were for the pangs of saudades, for the fear that she might have suffered, and for the pain I knew my sisters and parents were feeling. The gravity was due to the unexpectedness of it all. She was young, healthy, the apple in our eyes.
A few days later my husband suggested we adopt a dog. Say what? His change of heart, so he claims, came from pity for me. But I like to think that he subconsciously wished he could know what that feeling is…to cry out of love for a dog. Whatever the reason, we now have a dog. A dog, not a puppy. Last weekend we visited the UniãoInternacional Protetora Dos Animais (UIPA). The organization is actually extremely well run, which, if you are familiar with anything in Brazil, will surprise you. The organization is similar to American humane societies; they focus on rescuing mainly cats and dogs from the street, from abusive households and from abandonment. The UIPA in Sao Paulo city alone has over twelve hundred dogs at any given time. They survive on donations and a volunteer staff. Every dog or cat on site is vaccinated, spayed or neutered and de-wormed. They also require an on-site veterinary consultation with every adoption. The place is overrun with adult dogs. Only the puppies seem to draw attention. I find puppies too messy. We went in looking for an adult and found a quiet girl sitting in a corner pen with three one-month old puppies bouncing around. She didn’t bark. She didn’t move. She looked miserable. Yep, that’s the one. We picked her up and took her right then and there. One of the volunteer staff informed us that she was about one year old, was found pregnant on the highway about two months ago and had given birth to five puppies that were all already adopted or reserved for adoption. Only she was left. We named her Sybil.
Sybil is a true Sao Paulo street rat. But she is the sweetest thing we have ever seen. She has never barked and is afraid of everything. Doorways, staircases, pillows, blankets, ironing boards. Just being inside a building is frightening for her. But she is adjusting. Today is her fourth day and she is relaxing. Well, relaxing as much as anyone on antibiotics, flee medication, worm-pills and a new diet can.
So, being the food snob that I am, I had to make healthy dog treats for my new family member. The mini milk bone treats and what have you at the store are full of too many ingredients…primarily wheat flour. Nearly all veterinarians point out that wheat is not particularly good for dogs. While she does eat a pricy bagged dog food, I wanted to make whole food biscuits for her so I don’t feel guilty about filling her with msg. If you google “dog biscuit” recipes you will find that there seems to be a consensus that pumpkin is not only healthy but tasty for dogs. Pumpkin it is. All I did was mix two eggs with one cup cooked and smashed pumpkin, two and a half cups rice flour, a pinch of salt, a quarter cup of grated cheese and pureed meat from two chicken legs. Sybil is small (about 10 lbs) so I cut the biscuits into small half inch squares. She isn’t crazy for them, but she eats them.
I live in a really nice neighborhood in Sao Paulo, so when we go for walks most of the dogs we meet on the street are pure breeds. “oh what is her race?” I am constantly asked. My reply – she is a dog, she used to be a street dog. Love the looks.
We’ll share photos once she is more relaxed. Tomorrow is my three year wedding anniversary, and spring rolls on Friday. See you then.