Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

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!