Sunday, June 03, 2012

Floripa, Frolics, and Final Food Thoughts

I have lots more to say about my Brazil adventure, but I'm going to leave most of it to photo storytelling via Facebook and Picasa because I am in SANTIAGO now! That's right. Left Brazil this morning, had a lengthy layover in Uruguay, and am now writing you from my apartment in Chile. Time flies. So here's the nutshell version:

We arrived to an amazing view of the beach. Loved every moment there. And cried when we left. Oh, and there were Portuguese forts. Clowns at the public market. Nude men on the beach (sorry, failed on that photo op). Familial antics. And sonnet-worthy seafood. What would you expect from a place that makes you forget what day it is before you can finish your breakfast suco?

Report from the Interior
FYI: Brazil’s a big country. And we drove through a solid chunk of it. We hit some major storms. Stopped at roadside buffets. Wound up on cobblestone roads where the donkey-cart-to-automobile ratio was at least 2:1. Happened into military police who searched our passports, trunks, and souls, before escorting us back to the main road: 2 in the front, 1 in the back. You know, so there would be no funny business or quick getaways through the alfalfa fields. Passed through beautiful countryside, including an indian reservation. And about that time rolled into Curitiba, which won a return visit on our way back from Floripa to São Paulo. More on that later. By the time we reached the coast, I was only too glad to roll down my windows and inhale the ocean breeze. But I also felt a little sad. Having grown up in Michigan, I have a soft spot for middle lands. Because, although coasts are great, there’s a whole lot of living that goes on in the middle. 

Culinary Lessons from Brazil
As a wee tot, I learned to say 4 words in Portuguese before English. They all related to food:
Pipoca = Popcorn
Sorvete = Icecream
Vitamina = Milk-based fruit smoothie
Feijoada = Black beans with meat leftovers (such as pig's feet)
And I’ve long been aware that our inexplicable love for pasteurization and longitudinal short straw thwart us on the culinary front. But this trip was a real eye-opener as to how far we fall below our food potential. Frankly, I found it disturbing.

First, condensed milk makes everything better. I used to think it was avocados…and I stand by that statement…but go ahead and add condensed milk to the list of universal smile-makers. New Orleans knows what I’m talking about with its snowballs. But why not other desserts? And why stop there? I ate um dulce a la sushi brasilianeira at the end of my meal, consisting of a banana-filled tempura sushi roll drizzled with condensed milk. Sorry, Jiro. You’ve got competition in my sushi dreams.

Second, it’s time to get fruity. I know, I know. 50% of the country is against that. But maybe it’s because they have never tasted fresh-squeezed maracujá juice with a hint of strawberry, banana, and orange. Or maybe they have never tried – actually, I can’t remember half of the fruits I ingested in magical fruitlandia. But I know this much: fresh ripe fruit is pretty unbeatable.

So it would seem that Paulo Coelho was right. At least about my Brazil dreams: Quando você quer uma coisa, todo o Universo conspira para que possa consegui-la. When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.

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