Monday, January 17, 2005

acaraje and more

I forgot to talk about some really good news. On Saturdays there is an acaraje stand in our neighborhood. For those of you who don´t know, acaraje is the national food of Bahia. In Rio, it´s kind of hard to find. Think of it as a hush puppy on steroids. They are made of a massa made from black eyed peas and then deep fried in dende (palm oil). They are about the size of a big biscuit with the consistency of corn bread. They cut them open and stuff them with vatapa, caruru and dried shrimp. Add some hot pepper sauce and you got yourself a serious lunch. Throw in one of those waxy brazilian napkins and you´re gonna wear your lunch. The word for it is ``lambuzar``. That´s when you bite something and it explodes all over your face and you love it. Anyhow, I wound up with acarje in my eyebrows. Yum!!

The data are in and, once again, they are not pretty. All is not well in paradise and there is a big stink over the whole thing. It seems that the garota from Ipanema has grown up.....and out.....way out. The New York Times recently had the bad taste to publish a story and a photo of some hippos on the beach in Ipanema. They alleged that there is an obesity epidemic in Brazil. Of course this was just speculation until one of the London tabloids confirmed that the sale of plus sized bikinis is way up in Brazil. OOh... That hurts! I must say that I have noticed that many of the young girls are no longer painfully thin. They tend to have this sexy little pot belly sticking out. For us middle-aged guys who like our women built for comfort rather than speed, this is not such a bad thing.

We went to the E do Pandiero bloco yesterday evening and had a nice time. It´s in the Club Guanabara which is right on Botafogo Bay. This can lead to a stinky situation as the whole area is an open sewer. However, yesterday, there was a nice offshore breeze so there was no smell problem. The bloco is cool with about 30 pandeiros playing with two guitarists and a cavaco player. At one point, one guitarist was playing a very african-sounding ride over a coco song. Very cool. Sort of like the two roots meeting up again. Seu David da Portela showed up at the end and sang a few songs as well. Verynice. Small moon. Corcovado in the background. Beautiful.
I love this place. It has it´s flaws but it is way cool, way beautiful and full of variety. One of the things I like best about it is the abundance of small enterprise. We have over regulated and sued the initiative out of America but it is alive and well here. Every block is full of small businesses of every variety. In our neighborhood, a kid comes by with a bicycle loaded down with home made bread every morning. He honks a little bicycle horn and people go out and buy the bread. In Austin, he´d be taken directly to jail for making too much sense.
People buy and sell whatever they can where everthey can. It´s wonderful. j