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.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Damn It. I Missed April

Good morning to you all, or to you few. It is now winter/autumn in Brazil, which means about twenty degrees warmer than an average Seattle summer day. The nights are slightly cooler, but standing under the sun is as prickly as ever. Lately my days have been as such: I've collected a few more students and have ditched working with the school, been frequenting the lovely Vila Lobos park on the weekends with miss Sybil and our fellow dog-enthusiast friends, have passed through a cookie and cupcake photo shoot and have signed on for a new one, catered for an event at a fancy night club, and ----- I've finally made the perfect gluten free bread loaf. Saving the best for last, i know. I might give away the recipe in a few weeks. Or not.

cupcake tower by Sophie and Theo's Cupcakes

I had hopped that two months from now i would be on a jet plane to Seattle to visit my family and baby niece who i have never seen (well, she is only two months old), but unfortunately that won't be happening until December. At three thousand reais a ticket, it's impossible to go to Seattle more than once a year, times two people. I prefer going in December because I've always found December to be the happiest month in the US. Yes it's cold, but no one has school, most people are blowing off their jobs early and damn it i like holiday spirit. I do miss holidays living here. Now don't get me wrong, we have tons of holidays in Brazil. But 'holiday' here usually means a day off work, a barbecue or a quick trip to the beach (or as i like to say, a QTB. no not really). I miss the decorations and enthusiasm that comes with the holiday spirit in the US. I like it when store fronts paint pumpkins and turkeys in the window, when Starbucks serves seasonal beverages and draws whimsical holiday chalk drawings on their menu boards, when in December you seemingly can't walk into any commercial (or residential building) without hearing Christmas music. Will i ever have red, white and blue jello salad again? or use holiday-coordinated paper plates and napkins?

I think it's the weather. It's definitely not the argument of, "well Americans like to waste money on more crap" because if anything Brazilians spend a lot of money. So here we are shuffling on into Autumn like i mentioned before, and i can't help but think of Halloween. in June. yes. Brazilian culture doesn't celebrate Halloween. For obvious reasons, however. Halloween has its roots in Irish culture, an immigrant population that did not make its way as fully to Brazil as it did to the US. So i blame not! Usually when i comment on the lack of Halloween here to family and friends the response is, well isn't there Day of the Dead in November? Yes, technically there is. But it's not called Day of the Dead, it's called Finados (literally "souls") and is pretty unexciting. I mean, nothing happens. Observing Catholics might visit a deceased loved one's grave with a bouquet of flowers, but there's no parades or colorful costumes like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. So Halloween-time festivities are out.

The closest Brazil gets to an Autumnal festival takes place in June, the Festa Junina. Festa is the only holiday i am aware of in Brazil (aside from Carnival) where costumes are involved. The theme of the Festa is "over exaggerated farmer" or drunk hick. Men wear plaid shirts, overalls and straw hats while the females wear raggedy-Anne doll dresses, straw hats with pigtails and painted on freckles. Costumes! One lucky gal at each party even gets to shove a pillow under her dress and act out the scene of the pregnant bride. The wedding ceremony usually happens around a bonfire and sometimes there's a conga line. Festive food includes corn, hot dogs, popcorn, corn pudding, peanuts, hot wine and hot cachaça. Personally i only go every year for the peanut candies. This year a friend of mine has invited me to a new one hosted by a brand new hostel here in Sampa, we will both be selling food stuff out of the kitchen and we are hoping to make the selection nouveau-festa-junina by making a fusion of American autumnal flavors with the classic Festa Junina flavors. So if any of you have any ideas and would like to share, please leave a remark in the comments section. We have until mid-June to get the menu spot on. The crowd will be young and intoxicated, keep that in mind. I leave you with a few random photos until next time, à bientot.

Dia das Maes Cupcake made by Sophie and Theo's Cupcakes

picnic sandwiches at Parque Vila Lobos
Dia das Maes brownies made by The Kitchen