That time of the year has come…

…when I repeatedly repeat the yearly repeat “I hate Carnival”.

Tips for foreigners, whether you are in Brazil or not:

  1. DO NO ASK A BRAZILIAN IF HE LIKES CARNIVAL OR ABOUT CARNIVAL AT ALL . Do not ask a brazilian of he likes samba. Do not ask a brazilian for carnival party tips. Brazilians are pretty obvious and outgoing about their love for carnival. They will practically harrass you to go to a carnival party of any kind and get drunk, to the point you'll say 'yes let's go' only because you will realize the brazilian will not stop bugging you unless you agree to go out. So, if YOU ARE IN FRONT OF A BRAZILIAN WHO DID NOT MENTION CARNIVAL AT ALL, SHUT UP AND DON'T EVER BRING IT UP, BECAUSE YOU ARE IN FRONT OF A BRAZILIAN WHO HATES CARNIVAL. JUST GO WALK AROUND and you will find plenty of people just hanging out around the corner or asleep on the gutter, who can give you tips about where to party.
  2. DO NOT SAY “I LOVE BRAZIL.” D.O N.O.T S.A.Y I.T. especially if you are a celeb or if you are going to appear on media of any kind, unless you wanna sound as dumb and clueless as Alicia Silverstone on Clueless. If people ask you what are your thoughts abotu the visit and your country, be short, smart and stay true to yourself. DO NOT SAY “I LOVE BRAZIL”.
  3. Do not expect exotic, hot or “spicy” food. In general Brazilian cuisine is bland, non-creative and very simple in the matter of seasonings. The main “spices” of Brazil are salt and sugar, and all food tends too be either too salty or too sweet. Most meals are made with ingredients not very different from the ingredients in other western countries, and we have a huge network of fastfood imported from America. Brazilians have a sweet tooth and you'll find dozens of varieties of candies and chocolates and sweet places with a dedicated desserts and sweets buffet. Also, you'll find a coffee place every 50 meters, and every coffee place will always have espresso, which may be simples or dulpo (yes, double). Coffee places do not offer cream or creamer as an option here. You can only get straight milk.
  4. Don't expect to get your change straight. BRAZILIANS HATE COINS. They always round the price up or down to whatever amount of coins you have that is closest to the real change. Actually we hate coins so much that we pretty much eliminated the use of the 1 cent coin by simply ignoring it. If you find one, send it to me, I collect them. I actually have ONE 1 cent coin in my piggy bank. I even wonder if it's worth more just because of it's rarity.

Happy Thanksgiving

Last weekend we held a small thanksgiving feast – prepared by my lovely hubby Cary – and even though we don’t celebarte thanksgiving in Brazil, we even had Black Friday. We had turkey, blueberry pie, special gravy, mashed potatoes and yummy stuffing!!

We found out that there’s peanut butter in the public market here, which is just a couple blocks down our place, so my husband is very happy as you can imagine

My sweetie feline Mistofelis had a bad diarrhea but I’m so glad he’s competely recovered!!

I’m watching American Horror Story: Asylum. I must confess I hate psych ward – but I’m LOVING AHS Asylum. Psychiatric hospital were and still are a place  for the nightmares. Hardly any other theme has more potential for horror and suspense. I’m liking AHS better than the Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is lost within its slow story and uninteresting characters – issues that could have been solved in a three lines dialogue are lasting for the entire season. Killing Lori was a mistake, Michonne is annoying and poorly written, Merle is a pain in the ass. None of the character’s behavior has any logic or makes any sense. They really should review certain things in case there s next season.

My reading is uber slow and I’m so behind my new year resolution of reading 10 books in 2010. Aprox. 12hrs of work per day and I get home and pass out in bed. There’s french class I’d like to dedicate to a little more. I’d like to excersice, do something else. I read medical periodics but that does not count as reading. I’m pretty tired to be honest.

Dona Zefinha – Comida Nordestina

Dona Zefinha specializes in northeastern Brazilian cuisine. The menu is extensive and has many traditional dishes from that area. The service was quite good.

Many of the dishes are for 2, and we got the Caramão Tropical Refeição: shrimp and rice served in pineapple halves with a rich cream sauce. One pineapple half held the shrimp and the other the rice. The sauce was divine. We stuffed ourselves happily, and then had tapioca de coco e doce de leite: tapioca (also common in the northeast) with coconut and dulce de leite.

I can’t wait to go back!

Dinner at Dona Zefinha

Address: Rua Lima e Silva, 776, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
Phone: +55 51 3072-5557
Hours: Monday to Saturday – 5am to 1am

Book Review: “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer

This is not a random gullible green author raising the flag of veganism. It is a rather detailed research on how does the American meat industry works. Every claim and factual citation is properly referenced. Even when the reference is “just” a website (people will believe anything that is on the internet), there are ways to check further for the veracity of it.

You can also go farther than the author, and research the web for resources that try to debunk the things written on the book (not he he does not do that himself). The author gets to his own conclusion, and does not impose veganism on the reader. It’s up to the reader to make his own decisions, which, if you are smart enough and pay attention to the news, should not be a hard task.

In less than two months we have had two massive food recalls, all related to the factory farm meat industry: first there was the poultry and meat recall due to E.Coli contamination, and then there was the scandalous egg recall due to Salmonella. These only happen because the animals’ immune system is genetically designed so deficient that their bodies serve as playground to microorganisms. The factory farmed animals would never survive in case they were not fed tons of broad spectrum antibiotics everyday mixed with their food. As if that was not enough, you still have account improper management of the animal/meat througout the whole slaughtering process. Headlines like “Egg recall highlits the dangers of mass food production” only happen thanks to factory farms.  By reading Foer’s book, you would not have to read the article behind that headline. Because you would know instantly what would be written therein.

We (that is, human beings) are frequently lectured over self-medication and misuse of antibiotics; doctors and entire hospital staffs are blamed for bacterial resistance and the eminent “superbugs”. While there is truth in that, nothing can bear more guilt for imminent diseases (say H1N1) and “superbugs” than factory farms. It is a safe bet that you will never hear of the “Cat Flu” or “Dog Flu”. Because we do not eat cats and dogs. And even when we do (Koreans do), they are not produced in a genetically engineered immune deficient massive industrial scale fed broad spectrum antibiotics. Now chickens, pigs, fish and cow? The situation is so bad that I would not be surprised in case there was something that sounds as absurd as a “fish flu”. So please watch out for what (who) you eat and food safety. It’s not just about animal welfare, but our health depends on it too.

My Grain

Since a few weeks ago I became vegetarian and decided to increase the daily consumption of dietary fiber.

The following text has noting to do with that. It is more about how  fibergasted I was at the intensity of my last headache.

It  pounds my skull, pulsing, as a very very bad idea insisting to get out.

Each footstep evenly conducts itself up through my body into my skull, making my neurons resonate and my brain dance frantically like a gelatin about to part in the middle under the slightest pressure.

When the miminum light beam does not dim my sight enough to make it go white blind¹, I can see stars and planets and supernovas and all kinds of celestial bodies. Even being indoors².

Even the sounds of lower magnitude reverberate causing the jelly, I mean, the brain, to dance even more willingly and frantically.

(To think I always thought I was a bad dancer.)

The resonace spreads from my brain only to take over my body and suddenly I am dancing fully instead of only in my head (that’s what I call putting your ideas in practice…).

My skin gets pale and moist  from the dancing and my stomach announces the milk shake has been shaken enough already and going up the cup…

…and then I get home and take a miracle pill.

(What, you thought I was on drugs before all that happened?)

¹what the unskeptical lay people also know as “seeing God”?

²Probably would fit the diagnostic criteria for some random DSM-V diagnosis entitled to psychotropic prescription drugs.

P.S.:  this case has shown no valid statistical evidence of correlation between fiber ingestion, vegetarianism and altered mind states. I reamain a cereal eater and a vegetarian. Now just go eat your cereal and enjoy your salad, please.

Olivian Fettuccine

I’m a hopeless cook disaster.

I don’t think I ever made anything in my life that was’t noodle without failing terribly (ok, I confess I made omelete, but overall I’m not only bad but dangerous at the kitchen).  Anyway, for whatever reason (as in “there was no yogurt to eat with my cereal” and “the house ran out of fruits”) today I decided to make pasta (surprise…) with whatever I had laying around in the kitchen. And the thing is:  miracle or not, it actually ended up tasting really good. And I had a Casillero del Diablo 2008 Carmenere wine that went just perfect with it.

Cutting the chit-chat, here’s the recipe to my…

Olivian Fettuccine

Chop in slices a few leaves of Treviso Radicchio, lettuce and  half a grated carrot, and leave it there waiting.

Fill a pan with water, add salt and put it on the stove. It’s  a good idea to light the stove so, you kow, the water will boil.

In another pan, pour a bunch of olive oil; drop a proportional bunch of  herbes de provence; drop a proportional bunch of coriander (actually you can exaggerate a little here); pour (ok, careful here) a few bunch of drops of traditional Tabasco; pour a bunch of acetobalsamico di Modena (equivalent to 3 soup spoons). Do all this with the stove off. Fine. By now the water in the other pan must be probably already boiling, so you add the desired ammount of fettuccine to the first pan. After that you light the stove in low heat and with a wooden spoon you keep mixing all the spices for 3-5 minutes. Then you turn of the fire a little, add a bunch of mayonese and mix it all together really well. Then you add the chopped vegetables that I mentioned in the first line of this post, turn the fire on again, low, and mix it all together for like 2-3 minutes.

Well, at this point the fettuccine is probably al dente, so you drain the water from the pasta, and add all the fettuccine into the pan with the spicy sauce, and mix it really well.

Put it on a dish, and eat it with a fork and a knife, and a good glass of Carmenère wine.

Saturday Supermarket

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