Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Just a little cry.

Everyone's been in this situation: 

You're at a restaurant or cafe and you order a juice, smoothie, frappuccino, etc. While you're waiting for your icy beverage, you watch the employee turn off the blender and pour its contents into a cup. The cup fills up to the top, leaving a smooth curl of blended beauty. The employee puts the blender down and...that's when you notice it...the 2 or 3 ounces of extra drink. You paid for a glass, but are you still entitled to that little bit? If not, what's its fate? Will someone else drink it? Will it get dumped out? Should you ask for it? 

Rio's beverage culture is so rich that even the little extra has a word: the chorinho.
Literally, chorinho is translated as the "little cry". A more likely scenario in which this term is used would be at a bar. I was having a draft beer with a friend the other day and he noticed the price had just gone up for a pint. "Man", he groaned. "At this price, I'd better be getting a chorinho." Immediately after ordering the drinks, he took a big sip and asked the waitress for the little cry. She smiled and returned a moment later with another glass containing a sip's worth of beer. My mind: blown.
In a city that's getting more expensive by the hour, a funny little slang like this isn't only amusing, it's essential. If you don't figure out how you make your Real go a little further, you're gonna be the one having a little cry.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Produce on Wheels

It's Thursday. Time to stock up on fruit and veggies. 

And this is a bus you can't miss. 

Sacolão na Comunidade (Shopping Bag in the Community) is a city project that brings cheap local produce to the pacified favelas. Every Thursday morning, a large bus filled with everything from apples to zucchini pulls up to the square. You simply grab a big blue bag or two and fill them up with whatever you want. Papaya, peppers, peas, potatoes, pears, plantains, etc. And the best part: everything is the same price. R$1.99/kilo.  

This service for developing communities is only one of many. Last month, the city showed up with a truck full of new refrigerators. Anybody who brought their old ones could swap them for free.

Sometimes I imagine the fruitbus getting in a horrible crash on its way to the hill. And then dozens of people on the street sprinting over to the wreck with tiny straws, sticking them through the broken windows to get a taste of the world's most amazing smoothie.

A few names I've given my market on wheels:

The Veggie Vehicle
Fruit 66
Legumes with Leg Room
V8 (give that one time)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yeah, we got talking cats

Battle of Rio's Bars

The Metro, Rio's free newspaper, had it's annual "Best Bar Food In Rio" featured in this week's issue. For the first time in the contest's history, a bar from a pacified favela was among the winners. Which favela, you ask? The one and only Chapéu Mangueira, of course.

Bar do David got third place with the "Tropeiro Carioca". Made of sweet potatoes, dried beef and a some kind of sweet, herby sauce, the dish represents traditional Rio cuisine with a hillside twist. 

Even though the bar is located in the middle of the neighborhood's main square, I've never stopped by. Something about having 3 other bars within ten steps from the house makes it a little difficult to branch out. But since our community has an award-winning bar, I went and checked it out.

I gathered Celine and the funny Finnish dude that lives downstairs and walked over to David's Bar for lunch. The typical plastic beer-sponsored tables were set up outside with matching chairs. We ordered immediately. Finland got fish. Celine, the carne seca. And I got the Tropeiro Carioca. 

Although the Tropeiro was delish and smothered in its thick sauce, Celine's carne seca won over my heart and my stomach. Each plate for a mere R$10, it makes sense why I don't eat anything down on the asphalt. (NOTE: the asphalt is what locals call the parts of the city not on the hill; i.e. not the favelas.)

This award is especially meaningful, considering the first and second place bars aren't even located in the south zone (where the tourists are). The runner-up bar is in Jacarepaguá, in Rio's west zone. And the winner is in Tijuca, in the north zone. So I guess you could say that Chapéu is holding it down for the whole zone.

In a city filled with $100 sushi spots and $10 beer busts, there's something refreshing about eating the city's best bar meal for a ten-spot. Congratulations, Chapéu. Now clean up the dog shit in front of my door.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jungle Windows

Behind the cement boxes and tangled electrical wires of Chapéu Mangueira lie the backwoods--an untampered forest whose trails are known only by the locals...and the occasional curious gringo.

Celine, a fond new friend, and I decided to make an adventure out of a sunny, classless weekday. On the way to the top of the favela we bumped into Melke. Melke was born in Chapéu Mangueira and makes a living hauling miscellaneous items up and down the stairs for other residents--a task which few can do more than twice a day. Melke offered to show us the trails as well as some hidden views. Just another glimpse of local hospitality in the community. 

Sometimes Rio de Janeiro makes me wonder if God is financially benefiting from postcard companies. The picturesque views and geographic wonders are beyond suspicious. Christ Redeemer. Sugarloaf. Pedra da Gavea. The list goes on. For an urban city, the natural beauty is unparalleled. After 10 months, landmarks such as Botafogo Bay and Copacabana Beach are things that I've seen a million times...they're things that a million people have seen a million times. But once Melke led us to the top of the hill, above all the stairs and through the trees, there was something different about these all-too-familiar views. I found myself gazing down at the city through small clearings of trees, hidden windows in the brush.

Imagine a person getting hired as the new docent at the Louvre in Paris. The job allows this person to see some of the world's best pieces of art every day. But after some time, the job would lose some of its glamor and the docent would start to take much the beauty for granted. Now imagine a maintenance worker at the museum offering a tour of the secret corridors inside the museum walls--intricate and known only by other maintenance workers. Through tiny holes in the wall, the docent peers at the Mona Lisa. At the Coronation of Napoleon. At Egyptian artifacts. The next week at work is refreshing. The art's beauty is renewed.  

The backwoods and jungle holes were truly a behind-the-scenes experience, abounding with spiders and all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May, doodled away.

I am an irresponsible blogger. And for that I am sorry.

It's just that May hasn't provided me with much motivation. May. It doesn't sound inspirational at all. I may write something today. I may not. June, however...well, June is for blogging. June's posts will make up for May's lackthereof. I promise.

Most of my creative surges nowadays are wasted on doodles anyway:
Doodle #6 "Dhalsim Martini" (click to enlarge)

Doodle #8 "The Skeptic" (click to enlarge)

I know nobody reads this blog (does anybody read this blog?) to see blue ink of disastrous proportion, but that's all I have to offer.

At any rate, tonight is the Brazilian Cup final: Vasco vs. Coritiba. Things are looking up for my team. The last few years haven't been the most cheerful, but a win today will heal all those wounds. Vamos Vasco!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vasco Marches On

Last week was the quarterfinals of the Copa do Brasil.

It was a nail-biter.

Vasco da Gama's two away goals in the first-leg stalemate meant Atlético Paranaense and their "fanáticos" needed a win to advance. Vasco only needed another tie.

Kalle, my funny Finnish friend, and I got to São Januário stadium too late (like a couple of idiots). Tickets were sold out. Instead, we joined the hundreds of Vascainos in the streets outside the "Caldeirão". Spending the ticket money on beer was our new goal.

Early into the second half, Atlético capitalized on their first and only chance of the game. A typical Vasco breakdown of defense allowed a black and red uniform to sneak a breakaway touch past a diving goalie. Silence in the street. More beer.

70 minutes later, Vasco decides to make a change in their formation, substituting in veteran attacker Elton. This proved to be touch of managerial genius. A 75th minute cross finds the super-sub's head around the penalty spot. Golasso!

Vasco fends off the opposing attack and finishes the game in fine form.

The street's reaction:

Vasco will play Avaí on Wednesday, a Cinderella team who knocked out São Paulo last week. Tickets have already sold out, but I don't mind celebrating in the street again with these dudes.