Friday, November 4
Bom Dia from Brazil!
There are several other things that surprised me about Brazil. Among them was that, aside from Portuguese, English is the most widely spoken language. Speak to them in Spanish, a language that is much more similar to Portuguese than English, and they will stare at you blankly.
Another surprise is their obsession with Italian food, especially pizza. You will find pizzarias on every corner and I admit that I've had to resort to it on several occasions. In fact, I've probably eaten more pizza and pasta this week than in the past year!
I was also a little shocked by the churrascarias (pronounced chuhaskarias.) A vegetarian's worst nightmare, they are bascially meat fests. You pay a fixed price and the servers bring skewer upon skewer of meat to your table. I opted for the salad bar instead which offers healthy alternatives such as sushi and tilapia. However, I got the meat sweats just watching the servers load Dave's plate!
Aside from the above there are very healthy aspects of the Brazilian (specifically the coastal region) culture. For one thing everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is at the beach on the weekends. Beach soccer is extremely popular, along with volleyball (kind that we play in California) and foot volleyball. It's a two on two game played on a volleyball court but the ball can't be hit with one's hands. Instead pleayers use their feet, chests and heads. It's incredible to watch! Another beach game is "Frescobol" which appears to be a combination of smashball and tennis and is extremely intense. Traditional beach activities like running, surfing, and biking are also popular and racks of rental bikes line the beach. I thought they were for tourists but when I went to rent one I discovered that I needed a local smartphone. So evidently they are for cariocas (rio locals) to get from one part of the city to another.
Another healthy aspect of the Brazilian culture is the fresh squeezed juice. You will find a juice stand on every corner not occupied by a pizzaria. Açai is of course among the most popular but you will also find mango, papaya, and pinapple among others. Coconut (water) stands also line the beach. Again, I thought these were for tourists but they appear to be very popular with the locals. In fact, it was a carioca that told me to take the coconut back to the stand after the water was gone to have it cut in half (so I could eat the inside.) Delicious!
Pilates and yoga also appear to be popular as there are many related magazines lining the newstands. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a studio. Our hotel offers private yoga sessions but they cost about as much as a month's gym membership at home. So I will just have to wait until Monday to get back into my routine.
I hope to share a couple Brazilian recipes, and anything else I've forgotten, upon my return.
Have a great weekend!