Sunday, February 27, 2011

PROSCIUTTOOO!! not Prosciuuh!

I drove to Via Roma Gourmet today, we do that when we are lazy and don't want to cook on Sundays, so we buy all sorts of authentic Italian cold cuts and other little things that remind us of SAO PAULO :)
Via Roma Gourmet Bakery is on the Federal Hill part of Providence, Rhode Island, where the best Restaurants, Bakery's and authentic anything Italian can be found in New England.



Sweet Cappocollo Dry Imported from Italy!

Friuli Sweet Sopressata from Italy, delicious!

Mortadella, a favorite at the Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo, also popular among Italian Americans

We bought the desserts at Antonio's Italian Bakery near our house!

There are about 5 great Italian Bakeries on the Federal Hill area of Providence and many more scatted all over New England, but I like Roma better because the owner and his son, both Italians (from Italy), work at the Bakery all the time and they speak MY language, not the Italian American's new created language.
Let me explain what I mean by that, I mean my language both figuratively and literally.
In Sao Paulo and Italy we pronounce MOZZARELLA, PROSCIUTTO and not Muzzarel or Prociu like some Italian Americans do, it sounds like the person just got punched in the stomach midway into pronouncing PROSCIUTTO, so they only say PROSCIUUH! OUCH! What, did someone just punched you in the gut? What the hell, finish the freaking WORD!!!.
So, at Via Roma, we ask for MOZZARELLA or PROSCIUTTO and we are instantly understood by the REAL authentic ITALIANS from Italy who own and run the place. They even tell us these descendants of Italian immigrants changed everything and make up words as they go...or as they forget how their parents used to pronounce the mother land's tongue.
I thought it was really cool when he told me around Christmas that the BEST PANETONNE in the WHOLE WORLD is BAUDUCCO, MADE IN SAO PAULO, BRAZIL. Hey, if Italians are saying that I give even more credit to BAUDUCCO and off course ROMA carries BAUDUCCO PANETONNE and many other BAUDUCCO products.
We connect in so many levels...We ask for Bialetti parts and they know right away that we are talking about the popular stove top coffee maker Bialetti, sometimes we need a replacement rubber seal, sometimes it's a new aluminum filter. They sell the parts!!!! AWESOME!

Bialetti rubber seal and aluminum filter

Traditional Bialetti stove top coffee makers, like my mother's and very common in Sao Paulo

New Bialetti stove top Latte maker, milk on top coffee on the bottom! AWESOME!

New Bialetti electric Latte maker, on top of mine and Gil's "really, really want" list :)

I just recently found out watching "The Joy Behar Show" that Italians from New Jersey don't pronounce the end of many Italian words, but New Yorker Italians DO as well as PAULISTANOS, other Brazilians and Italians off course.
We have always been irritated to no end when I hear MUZZARELL instead of MOZZARELLA and PROSCIUUH instead of PROSCIUTTO, they cut the A from Mozzarella and the TTO from Prosciutto, I swear I feel like slapping people in the back of their heads to see if the end of these words will come out :)
To add insult to injury, these frigging idiots folks pronounce Italian words wrong and correct us when we pronounce it correctly, and sometimes, they just don't understand us, or pretend not to understand us when we ask for MOZZARELLA!!!!! or PROSCIUTTOOOOO!!!! UGH!!!
Federal Hill is the area of Providence, Rhode Island considered our Little Italy.

This giant sized pineapple will welcome you into the Federal Hill area of Providence, Rhode Island

HERE is a little bit more information about Providence's Little Italy area, Federal Hill. There are over 100 great restaurants all over the area, we go there for all the great Italian Bakeries, Markets and Pastries.
Folks, this is a totally different country, it almost fells like you are outside of the US, different culture, different people, at the same time that they are the core of America as we know if, New England is very, very different, from the small details to the larger details of life. From food to gay marriage.
Classic Example:

Antonelli's where you can buy live poultry and have it butchered right in front of you :(
You pick your live chicken, turkey, goose, duck, fowl or rabbit and they "prepare" it for you to take it home for dinner :(

Scialo Bros is another cool Authentic Italian Bakery at the Federal Hill Area of Providence, HERE you can take a peak at some pictures of the great stuff they have been making at Scialo's for almost 100 years.
Venda Ravioli is another AWESOME Italian place, more like a small gourmet grocery store with a great little Italian restaurant attached to it called Constantino's. HERE you can see pictures and even things they sell at Venda Ravioli and Constantino's, it's actually all in the same place, same owners.

Constantino's/Venda Ravioli at the heart of Federal Hill
They have a Butcher section that sells noble cuts of meats

We like they fresh pasta, made daily right on site and their fresh Italian bread that fly off the shelves before you can pronounce PROSCIUTTO!!!! They correct way off course :)
Pastiche is a GREAT little place for Desserts and COFFEE only. They don't serve anything besides sweet pastries and coffee, lattes, teas and cappuccinos. The place is super charming with a huge fire place that is always on full blast, it's small and always crowded, great for those super cold snow days. Super friendly staff. It is on the expensive side, but totally worth it. HERE is a link to Pastiche Fine Desserts.

Pastries to die for in Providence, Rhode Island :)
If you are ever around New England, you HAVE to stop in Providence and visit these super tradition AWESOME Italian places, you can't get any more New Englander than the Federal Hill in Providence.

Petunias explosion at De Pasquale square on the Federal Hill in Providence
 Tony's Colonial is another great little Italian gourmet grocery store with a great selection of great Italian foods.

Great Tony's Colonial on the Federal Hill in Providence
Inside Tony's Colonial, a great variety of great Italian cheeses 
If you are ever in the area DO NOT miss this gem little area of New England and enjoy the authentic flavors of Italy, Providence is only one stop north ( 2 and a half hours north ) of New York city on the Accela Express Amtrak train, a must visit destination.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Brazilian Housing Bubble! Not IF but WHEN?

I was just reading a blog post from Adventures of a Gringa in Rio and just one thing comes to my mind,
the HOUSING BUBBLE IN BRAZIL is about to burst, it's not a matter of if, but when, in my opinion.
I am not so concerned about the accelerated consumption, higher demand or even inflation in Brazil.
If I know Brazilians well, and I like to think that I do, they have become MASTERS of controlling inflation, trust me.
If you lived in Brazil in the 80's, you would understand what I am talking about, Brazil would be able to control inflation with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their backs.
Let's say, we Brazilians have our problems, but we DO LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES.
My biggest and constant concern is the huge risk regarding the outrageous and senseless real state speculation that is going on in every part of the country, Rio is an exception, let me explain why.
There is even more speculation in Rio because of some very specific factors happening only in Rio.
The growth of the Oil industry in the whole state of Rio de Janeiro is in my opinion, the largest exception to the rest of Brazil.
The city of Santos, where the largest Brazilian harbor is situated is going thru a similar real state boom and accentuated speculation for some of the same reasons as Rio, the biggest one, there has been HUGE recent Oil discoveries in the area which caused many companies are moving into the city.
Back to Rio, real state prices are really heated up for a combination of reasons, first, there is no room to built anything anywhere, the city is smashed between the ocean and slum filled mountains, so unless you move some favelas away from the Central part of the city or buy an old building to bull dozed it down and built a new one in it's place, there is no room for real state expansion downtown, period.
There is also real and solid improvements in the safety situation, which is HUGE and have plagued the city for decades.
There is generalized optimism because of the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup and most important of all, there are real companies, who are starting to do REAL Oil Industry related business in the area and they need a place to work.
Having said that about Rio, I have to say that in Sao Paulo and other parts of Brazil there is generalized, senseless and insane speculation, very similar to what I saw in Florida and California just when the housing bubble was starting to literally explode.
What did it in the US was the absurd and unrealistic price of Oil that placed everything in a downward spiral, taking the fragile housing bubble down the drains along with the rest of the economy.
But Brazilians are completely blind right now, it is like they are on crack and won't listen to you.
I begged a good friend not to buy an apartment in Sao Paulo a month ago and she told me she HAD to buy it because the prices were gonna keep going up and soon she wouldn't be able to afford it anymore...HOW WRONG!

Expensive, unrealistic real state prices, a clear sign of a Housing Bubble!

My own brother bought a SUPER overpriced apartment just last year and I couldn't talk him out of it. He was paying R$650,00 a month for the rent on his apartment, as soon as he left to his new bought condo, the owner rented that same one bedroom apartment for R$1680,00 a month to the new tenants. More than double what my brother was paying.
Most rents are double what they were just a couple of years ago.
New construction apartment buildings in Sao Paulo are selling in a couple of hours and most people buying the apartments are not buying to live in them but to flip them and make a quick 50K bucks...just like Florida and California in 2004 and 2005, it is sad to see them driving their own financial situations down the drain and not being able to stop them. BEYOND FRUSTRATING.

It's simple, prices can't go up if salaries and income are not rising!

On our last visit to Sao Paulo, my brother had a Pizza making party at their new fancy building with a kiosk and Pizza oven right next to an awesome lap swimming pool with a water fall. An hour into our Pizza making event, one of our best friends showed up, all excited, he had just bought TWO brand new construction apartments at Vila Prudente, right next to the new subway station.
Our friend told us they went to the launch of this new construction and arrived at 5am, on a Saturday, there was already a huge line of interested buyers, just waiting for the opening of the sales of the new building.
The construction company opened the sales at 9am and SOLD ALL units by 11am that same morning.

Another HUGE sign of a Housing Bubble, accelerated speculation!

Our friend already has his own "Overpriced" apartment in Sao Paulo, he just recently got married.
But he used his year end bonus for a down payment on 2 new units of a new construction apartment that he never intents to live in...he actually said he wants to sell it before construction is even ready. CRAZY!
The Realtors, off course, the most interested parties in the equation, assure them, that the housing Bubble won't happen in Brazil because there isn't any predatory lending going on...and folks in Brazil have to put 20% down to purchase a home, think again, HOUSING BUBBLES are all about unrealistic overpriced real state.
The sheeps are hearing from the wolves that they can relax, nothing is going to happen...yeah, right! it's the same thing we heard just before our bubble blew up on our faces all over the US.

Construction companies on the left and Realtors on the right :)

I am just saying, if you are about to buy real state in Brazil, do a lot of investigating and find out it there has been absurd speculation or if it's a good deal.
I would rent until the real state market crashes and buy something when prices go down like they are still going down around here.
Not a good time to buy real state in Brazil in my opinion!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Formaldehyde Free! or so we thought!

I heard about formaldehyde for the first time in 2003, when we were looking at houses to buy, my best friend from Rhode Island kept telling me, you can't buy a house with new cabinets, the new cabinets are not real wood and are loaded with formaldehyde, all right then.
I am not a paranoid about everything being green, I mean, we recycle, we don't drive around a lot burning gas for no reason, besides the fact that we drive an 8 cylinder large SUV. We burn less gasoline than our neighbours who drives Prius and Volvos to work everyday. See, Gil and I both have worked from home for the past 12 years.
We will go an entire month and a half on one tank of gasoline, maybe even less if it's snowing a lot and we get snowed in for weeks in a roll.
So, just by hearing the word formaldehyde was enough to scare me and made me trust Lisa's advice to look for a house with REAL solid hard wood cabinets. Solid hard wood cabinets were more common until the 60's and 70's.
Apparently, something happened to the world's wood supply in the 80's, prices skyrocketed and everyone started buying those crappy cheap modular cabinets for their kitchens and bathrooms.
The new cabinets I am talking about are nothing but a bunch of compacted cheap quality "saw" dust mixed in with a lot of glue, which contains an enormous amount of FORMALDEHYDE, this POISON keeps releasing a gas in the air of your house, it has no color and no smell, but you and your children inhale it everyday or your lives, creepy huh!.
Our house had solid wood cabinets all around, kitchen and bathrooms. We recently renovated our kitchen but didn't buy new cabinets. We decided to just paint and change the hardware on the old ones, because they are good quality solid wood, with no crappy poisonous FORMALDEHYDE. Good right?
I thought we were free from this freaking poison.
To my total surprise, I just read an article this week that MANY products we use on a daily basis have the darn poisonous crappy FORMALDEHYDE, in everything from cleaning products to air fresheners.
So, I did a little research and decided to share with you guys, CARE2 is a cool website for this type of information and here are some known carcinogens I found out about and good to avoid having around the house, principally if you have children
( I found this information in an article by SHINE by Yahoo) :

1-Air Fresheners:

Sweet-smelling air often comes with naphthalene and formaldehyde, both known carcinogens, as well as a host of other toxic chemicals.
For a fresh scent, start by removing the odor's source rather than trying to mask it. If something still stinks, try zeolite, baking soda, or natural fragrances from essential oils. For more information, see Easy Greening: Air fresheners .

2-Art and Craft Materials:

Common art supplies may contain harmful ingredients. For a full list of specific products to avoid by brand, see the items prohibited for use in California schools by the California EPA: Arts hazardous list (PDF). To guard against exposure to carcinogenic and/or highly toxic ingredients:
  • Watch out for lead and other heavy metals in paints, glazes, and enamels. Use vegetable based dyes and paints instead.
  • Use water-based glues, paints, and markers and avoid hazardous solvents like rubber cement, paint thinners, and solvent-based markers.
3-Automotive supplies:

Given how unhealthy auto exhaust is, it's no surprise that the fluids we feed our cars aren't very safe either. Antifreeze and brake fluids that contain ethylene glycol are highly toxic, and windshield wiper fluid is extremely poisonous. As little as 2 tablespoons can be deadly to a child.
Similarly, used motor oil presents a serious health threat through skin contact, skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion. The health problems are cumulative, so with each exposure to used motor oil the amount of risks to the body's system increase.
If you need to use automotive supplies, keep them locked away and dispose of remnants or containers at your local hazardous waste facility.

4-Dry cleaning:

Conventional dry cleaners use tons of chemicals, such as perchloroethylene (tetrachloroethylene), naphthalene, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, all of which are carcinogenic. These chemical fumes can stick around on your clothes for days.
If your garments require a trip to the cleaners, ask for the wet-cleaning option at the cleaners, and seek dry cleaners that use liquid C02 or citrus juice cleaners. For more information, see Healthy and Green Dry cleaning.

5-Flea, Tick and Lice control:

Avoid lindane-based pesticides. California considers lindane to be carcinogenic. In rare cases, lindane has caused seizures and death, even among people who used lindane according to the directions.
For a list of safer alternatives, see Natural Flea and Tick control.

6-Paints and Varnishes:

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in paints are known human carcinogens. In addition, the VOCs in paint are released into the air and may continue to off-gas at low levels for years after application.
Always choose low- or no-VOC finishes. For more information, see Is your paint making you sick?

You know how awful mothballs smell? Consider that your body's way of telling you: Bad, bad, bad! When you smell mothballs, you are essentially inhaling insecticide. Mothballs are nearly 100 percent naphthalene, a carcinogen, or paradichlorobenzene, a toxin.
Many people use cedar to combat moths, but it is not effective against adult moths.

8-Cleaning products:

Not all cleaning products contain carcinogens, but here are the worst offenders.
Mold and mildew cleaners can be a nasty bunch, often containing formaldehyde. Try a natural approach to killing mold and mildew by using Vinegar and tea tree oil.
Carpet and upholstery cleaners are designed to strip stains and dirt from heavy textiles by using noxious substances. The worst of the ingredients is perchloroethylene, a central nervous system toxicant and respiratory irritant.
Instead, try using a steam cleaner with water or a natural-based cleaner. Next time you're shopping for furniture, aim for styles that use slipcovers that can be removed and washed or water-process dry-cleaned.
Furniture polishes achieve a shine with nitrobenzene, a reproductive toxin and central nervous system toxin that can be absorbed through the skin. Look for an all-natural polish, or make your own using 1/8 cup olive oil or other vegetable oil mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar and
1 tablespoon vodka.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beach Day in SAO PAULO!

I am not crazy for the beach. I do prefer the country side, but a friend of mine just took some friends visiting her in Sao Paulo on this DAY TRIP to the beach and was very happy about it, she is raving about this small travel agency that specializes in taking foreigners to the beach for the day.
They even have tour guides who are expert surfers and will give you beginers lessons, how cool is that?
Maybe you are stuck in Sao Paulo with a friend visiting from another country and would like to spend a day on the beach, this is a great option.
They will pick you up in Sao Paulo in the morning, take you to a beautiful beach 1 hour away from the city for the day and bring you back by the end of the day, they promise you will be back home in Sao Paulo in time for dinner.
They focus on foreigners and are fluent in English, their website is also 100% in English.
HERE is the link to their website with details for this cool new initiative.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tired of the beach? Try this HOTEL FAZENDA 1 HOUR AWAY FROM SAO PAULO

My brother just tried this place over the weekend and loved it. HERE is a link for the information on the this nice Hotel and the gated community being built in the area.
If you love horses and the country side, this is a great getaway from the big city, ok, even if you don't like horses, it's a great calm place to recharge your batteries.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sao Paulo Flooding-Tips from a local!

I can't talk about floods in Sao Paulo without giving you an explanation for why it happens and why it is so violent.
You will read many newspapers and many blogs of people who are not from Sao Paulo blaming the issue of floods on politicians or perhaps gutters clogged with trash.
If you live in Sao Paulo you know the city is pretty clean for a big city and you most likely have never seen this much rain coming down at once.
Recent governments have built gigantic "Concrete Boxes" under the city that collect the extra amount of water and prevent floods in certain areas, these flood containment devices are called "Piscinoes" or "Big Swimming Pools". The most notorious was built under the parking lot of Pacaembu Soccer stadium and helped reduce the flooding around the Sumare Avenue in the Perdizes and Pacaembu areas of Sao Paulo.
My personal opinion is based on observation and facts. It is just TOO MUCH WATER, PERIOD.
So we need to learn how to deal with it and we can do just fine.
São Paulo has a highland subtropical climate (Cwb), according to the Koppen classification. In summer, temperatures are between 17 °C (63 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F), and 32 °C (90 °F) on the HOTTEST DAYS. In winter, are between 11 °C (52 °F) and 23 °C (73 °F), and 6 °C (43 °F). on the coldest days.
The highest temperature recorded was 35.3 °C (95.5 °F) November 15, 1985 and the lowest recorded was −2 °C (28.4 °F) on August 2, 1955, and on the same day was recorded −3.8 °C (25 °F) unofficially.
The Tropic of Capricorn, at about 23°27' S, passes just north of São Paulo and roughly marks the boundary between the tropical and temperate climates. Because of its elevation, however, São Paulo enjoys a more agreeable climate in comparison to most parts of the Brazil.
The abundant rainfall is responsible for the annual and infamous flooding in the prone areas of the city, amounting to an annual average of 1,454 millimetres (57.2 in) of rain.
It is especially common in the warmer days of the summertime averaging 219 millimetres (8.6 in), and decreasing in winter when the average is 47 millimetres (1.9 in).
Neither São Paulo nor the nearby coast has ever been hit by hurricanes and tornadoes are rather uncommon. Snow flurries were reported officially only once, on June 25, 1918. During late winter, especially August, the city experiences the phenomenon known as "veranico" (Little summer), which consists of a bout of unusually hot and dry weather, sometimes reaching temperatures well above 28 °C (82 °F). On the other hand, relatively cool days during summer are also fairly common when persistent winds blow from the ocean. On such occasions daily high temperatures may not surpass 20 °C (68 °F), accompanied by lows often below 15 °C (59 °F).
Long story short, Sao Paulo has very mild and pleasant climate for the most part of the year.
It has always rained in the summer, A LOT, and floods are a part of the environment, much before the city was where it is, too many rivers big small cross the area in every direction. Today, many of them have been paved and cover by roads.
Water springs usually break the asphalt in Sao Paulo all around the city and crystal clear clean water comes out in abundance.
Many high rises built underground pumps that constantly pump out clear spring water on to the city gutters.
If you ever see clean water running on the gutters on a sunny dry day, you have spotted a water Spring area nearby.
HERE is a link with this afternoon's news in Portuguese and a lot of pictures from this today's flooding event in Sao Paulo.
Translating the headline "Rain in Sao Paulo overflowed streams, closes Airport, interrupts train service and blocks highway"...
When I read this headline, I filter it inside my head and break it up in many levels, being from Sao Paulo, news of flooding are not really news, it's same sh..., different day, sort of like Wild Fires in Los Angeles, Hurricanes in Florida, or Tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma, it's a given:

First: "Airport closed", ok, no big deal, read THIS and you will understand why they close Congonhas Airport during strong rain storms in the city. I can't blame them, if you know the facts, nobody wants to be blamed for another one of these disasters. After all, they only close the Airport during the rain, which is only between 30 minutes and a couple of hours tops.

Second: "Overflowed streams"!! Yeah! You cut all the forests around the stream, built a city all around it, covering all the ground with asphalt, concrete and glass buildings, where do you expect all that water to go?
Have you ever shaken a small tree after a rain? You know how much water is retained on leaves and how much water sips into the ground right?
Now, imagine no vegetation to hold any water anywhere and no ground for the water to sip in, the water goes all to the streams, naturally they flood every time.

Third: "Interrupts train service", If you live in Sao Paulo you know that many train lines were built right next to the rivers, on the flood plains, what do you expect? Train service interrupted during heavy flooding? Yes! Too obvious right! When you drive along "Marginal Pinheiros" you can see train stations and trains running along the river.
The name "Marginal" means margin, so it means these highways run along the margin of the river.

What you should know is that the places that are flooding today in Sao Paulo, have always flooded, the exact same streets, the exact same intersections, most local folks know to avoid these areas and certain situations.

Flooding in the outskirts of the city of Sao Paulo 50 years ago!
Flooding downtown Sao Paulo in the 1940's

Downtown Sao Paulo flooded in the early 1940's

Sao Paulo flooded streets during the 1950's

See, nothing new, it has always happened.
So, when I started to venture out into the city as a young adult, my parents and grandparents always alerted me to the Avenues and streets to stay away from when it started to rain during summer months.
If you are familiar with the city's topography, avoid all lower areas during heavy summer rain storms.
The storms always, always happen at the end of the afternoon, usually between 3 and 5 pm. You can literally see the day turn into night in the middle of the afternoon, city lights will turn on and it will feel like midnight, the BLACK clouds are heavy and scary as hell.
So, the smart thing to do is to always avoid being out and about at the end of the afternoons during the summer, principally if it has already rained for a couple days in roll, that is when floods usually happen. The soil is already too saturated and floods are inevitable.
I always had a plan B in case it rained bad and I knew the floods had began.
It is just plain stupid to think you can beat the rush hour crowd and get home before it gets bad, just for the simple fact that EVERYONE will think like you.
You will be stuck in traffic and if you don't know the streets well enough, you might just end in the middle of a huge mess.

This could be you if you try to beat the rush hour crowd.

Folks trying to beat the rush hour traffic during floods in Sao Paulo
Come on, be smart, have a plan B.
Like I always did. Have your favorite music CD's in your car in case you get stuck in traffic. Make sure you always have your cell phone charger in the car with you. Have some snacks and drinks too, why not? You wanna be stuck in traffic in the most possible comfort.
As a typical Paulistano, I could be stuck in traffic a whole week inside my car and I would be just fine ;)
But I am an expert in escaping big city traffic, so that would never happen to me! HA!
Your plan B could be anything, it is obviously customized to your lifestyle and your leisure preferences.
If I peaked outside my window and it looked like the picture below:

Sao Paulo summer storm, corner of Faria Lima and Cidade Jardim Avenues
Don't get out if you can and if you are already outside, find a place to be for a couple of hours.
I usually would go into a Mall, park my car safely above ground, look for a good movie to watch at one of the Mall's many cinema's or do some shopping, this is the best time to go sale hunting, you are stuck at the Mall with no place to go.
Gil and I would sometimes during floods, find a nice Coffee shop and spend hours sipping Lattes, eating Cheese Bread and talking ourselves to death.
Sometimes I would just stay in the office and do some work. You can always make yourself productive by working overtime hours.
If you are driving around a low area close to a river, don't wait for the traffic to get bad.
Take the first cross street and get the hell out Dodge, look for alternative routes. Drive to higher ground immediately, don't wait until you see water flooded streets to make your move.

This tunnel under Ibirapuera Park always floods during strong storms. The pumps just can't handle the flash flood.
I was visiting my family in Sao Paulo two summers ago and my brother and his wife wanted to take me to this new exotic Pizza place called Santa Pizza, at Vila Madalena neighborhood, it is a very eclectic and trendy little Pizza place.
I literally gagged when I saw some of the Pizzas in their menu, Brie, Banana and Curry!
Come on!
There should seriously be jail time for people who come up with such aberrations!
Ok, side tracking alert, that's a discussion for another post.
It had been raining hard for several days, so I told my brother, you know Vila Madalena, it is an area with very steep hills, some streets are inclined on a ridiculous angle, let's park somewhere OFF the street, into a parking garage or something.
Santa Pizza is almost at the bottom of a Harmonia Street, which is a very steep street with a paved over  stream at the bottom of it.
What happens in violent storms in Sao Paulo is that some of these very steep streets become fierce rivers with powerful waters of incredible force.
These powerful instant water falls drag everything in it's way downstream.
So, while we were calmly eating our Pizza, ( ESCAROLE Pizza, don't worry, I am still sane) all hell was breaking loose outside, a powerful river had formed right outside the restaurant and it literally swept all cars parked on the street downhill towards the small underground stream.
There are huge drains at the bottom of Harmonia street for water drainage.
This events are usually very fast, it is FLASH FLOODING at it's best.
During the time we ate a Pizza, a river formed outside, it swept about 15 cars down the street and piled them up on top of each other like toys.
Within the period of one hour, the rain had stopped and the water was gone, all we saw when we walked outside was a pile of cars at the end of the street. It was surreal, we were completely oblivious to the outside chaos.
My brother thanked me for reminding him to park inside the parking garage. We drove safely home.
The scene outside Santa Pizza that evening looked something like the picture below but much worse, with a lot more cars piled on top of each other:

Yep, it happens during every strong rain in Sao Paulo
Come on people, you can't be that distracted!!!

So, Stay alert! Principally if it has been raining for several days in a roll. The soil will be saturated, there is nowhere for the water to go, flash flood is a given.
It is almost an exact science. Too much water, nothing to hold the water back, bad combination.
Another simple example:

I went to Alphaville with a friend on my last visit to Sao Paulo, she works for a TV station and was filming a show in that area for the afternoon.
If you know Sao Paulo, you must know that Alphaville is just outside of the city, you take Castelo Branco Highway to get into Sao Paulo.
As we start to drive back into Sao Paulo I see the BLACK clouds and immediately suggest we find a restaurant in higher ground and wait for the storm and the flood to pass.
I started playing with her SUV's navigation system and found a Japanese Sushi Place at Lapa neighborhood, which is NOT a typical area for restaurants in Sao Paulo, but it was on high ground and it was SUSHI!
Lapa has a large middle residential area in the hills and industries and warehouses near the Marginal do Tiete Highway, where it usually floods.
We had a great SUSHI dinner while the world fell apart outside.
Loud thunder, fierce rain, cars, trucks and buses were stuck on flooded highways, streets and avenues, airport closed, train service interrupted, the end of normal life as we know it, well, at least for about 40 minutes or so.
Folks, it isnt' hard, you just have to be a little alert about it. Have a plan B.
Get into a Mall, restaurant, Movie Theater, Grocery Store, whatever, find something to do with your time instead of sitting in the car and thinking you can win over mother nature. You just can't.
By doing this you will always keep yourself safe and sane, making the best use of your time.

HIGH RISK areas for flooding to avoid in Sao Paulo:

1- Tunnel Vale do Anhangabau-Downtown - This is the most dangerous area in my opinion, avoid it at all costs. There is an underground stream under the tunnel, it usually fills up completely during floods.
HERE  you can see a flash flood at Avenida 9 de Julho that leads to Tunnel Vale do Anhangabau in a recent flood, it's a 50 second video, but it will give you an idea of what happens in these dangerous areas to avoid during strong rains.
Take any of the several higher ground alternatives in the surrounding area. You can also take cover into safe, higher ground inside beautiful Shopping Light ( Mall ) .

2- Avoid any tunnel around the city that goes underground, under rivers, streets or avenues. The pumps can't handle the quick rush of water at the peak of the storms and the tunnels have dangerous flash floods.

3- Avoid any street, avenue or highway next to a river or small stream. They don't usually flood completely but the few spots where they flood are enough to create monster traffic jams.
Notable highways to avoid: All Marginais; Marginal Pinheiros ( Pinheiros River ), Marginal Tiete ( Tiete River), Avenida dos Estados ( Tamanduatei River ), Avenida Aguas Espraiadas ( Aguas Espraiadas stream ), Avenida Luis Carlos Berrini ( There is a small stream under this avenue that usually floods ), just to name a few.

4-Avoid Avenida 9 de Julho near downtown, north of Paulista Avenue tunnel. Strong currents usually develop on that section of the avenue and they will drag your car down stream towards downtown, if you are caught in it, take any cross street on both sides to higher ground, the link to the video on the #1 item shows Avenida 9 de Julho with flooded cars, buses and a motorcycle biker clinging for dear life.

5-Via Anchieta Highway occasionally floods right on the border between Sao Paulo and Sao Bernardo do Campo, right in front of UNIBAN University ( The former Ford Brasil Headquarters ). There is a small river that floods right at the city line.
If you have to drive to the coast under heavy rain, take IMIGRANTES Highway, it is newer, safer and it never floods on any point, traffic always flows much better thru Imigrantes anyway.

6-Avoid Avenida Ricardo Jafet at Ipiranga neighborhood in the ZONA SUL area. There is a small river in the middle of the avenue that floods often. Take any cross street to higher ground or drive into Carrefour Supermarket or Plaza Sul Mall where you will find above ground safe parking.

Follow these easy steps, be alert during strong rain storms and you should be just fine.
There is no excuse for falling victim to these kinds of traps if you follow basic these basic tips.
Now, enjoy Sao Paulo's great weather, keep in mind that you don't have harsh winters, extremely hot summers, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, or Tornadoes to threaten your peace and quiet.
Sao Paulo is a big city... no, it's a humongous city.
But if you just use of some common sense and set your mind to deal with what comes along, you certainly will be able to make a piece of paradise there like we have been doing ourselves.
We are looking forward to joining you soon!



Monday, February 14, 2011

Bidets becoming popular in the USA

Yes, you heard me right!
B I D E T s are becoming more common in the USA.
You can find a little bit about the history of bidets HERE .

French ladies using bidets in the 18th century.

I did miss having a bidet when I first moved into the US until buying our first house, which amazingly enough, had a bidet.
HERE is an interesting article written in Portuguese by a Portuguese American doctor from Bristol, Rhode Island. I am sorry if you don't understand Portuguese, but it has a hilarious poem at the end about bidets that shows how funny Portuguese folks can be. They truly have a great sense of humor.
You just have to get past the graphic medical images to get to the funny part at the end.
For the non Portuguese speaking crowd, long story short, the Portuguese doctor is saying Americans have the highest incidence of "hemorrhoids" due mainly to the lack of hygiene provided by bidets.
He also mentioned that at the beginning of the last century Ritz Hotel in New York city installed bidets and it caused a big campaign from puritan minded religious folks who were saying bidets promoted prostitution and women were using as a birth prevention method...not hard to imagine. It sounds like something Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin would say if they were around back in those days ;)
I love bidets, they are super practical and very hygienic, once you get used to having one. I doubt you would go back to using toilet paper alone.
Perhaps I don't need to go into details on why and how they are practical and super awesome and used by men and women around the world for cleaning their genitalia and perineum areas.
If you are an Expat, you also should now by now how much of clean freaks Brazilians are in general, and how popular bidets are in Brazil. ;)
Bidets are now clearly becoming a trend for bathroom renovations across the US.
You might be asking me how the heck do I know that, right?
We renovated our bathrooms in 2009 and wanted to replace our old bidet in one of the bathrooms being renovated, and to our surprise our local Lowe's and Home Depot were sold out of bidets!!!!
True story, I had no idea bidets were becoming a trend in Bathrooms across this country.
Well, at least across New England, they were sold out, every model and we had to order one from a catalog and wait 3 months.

This is very similar to the Bidet at our house

I always thought our house was an absolute exception, once there was already a bidet here when we bought it. The lady we bought the house from, was an American of Portuguese origin, she sure had strong Portuguese cultural habits, including having a bidet in a small middle class Cape Cod style house in Rhode Island.
We looked at many houses before we purchased this one and we never saw a bidet anywhere, a rare exception were some luxurious condos downtown Providence, Rhode Island.
I have always liked the Marriott on the East Side in Manhattan, on Lexington and 49th street, it is the only Hotel in Manhattan that has a bidet in it's awesome Travertine marble bathroom, as far as I know. I am sure there are more, I will need to explore it in the future.
Now that we don't stay at Marriott's anymore we will definitely be able to discover other nice hotels with bidets in New York city and other places.
If you have been reading our blog, you will most likely remember that we don't stay at Marriott Hotels anymore in retaliation to the Mormon's shameful support of the Homophobic Proposition 8 in California.
We have changed our 19 years of loyalty from the Marriott family of Hotels to Hilton or any other hotel not associated with any Religion that actively fights against my family's basic civil rights.
You can take a peak HERE to refresh your memory on the whole controversy.

This is how the first bidets looked like! Yikes!

Back to Bidet's, if you are an expat in Brazil you have already encountered one, I am sure.
Most Brazilian homes have them, not the UBBER small new apartments in Sao Paulo, like my brother's new place near Paulista Avenue, but most Brazilian apartment and homes have bidets.
Bidet is an institution in Brazilian culture, a clear influence from southern Europe, where bidets are very popular.
My parent's apartment and everyone else's home I know in Brazil have a bidet in every bathroom of the house.

Stylish classic bidet

In Brazil, tile floors have to be washed and scrubbed with BLEACH and RINSED with lots of water.
The American way of cleaning with a string mop and some chemicals that you just apply and don't have to rinse cannot be accepted in Brazilian cultural cleaning habits, hence all the drains in Brazilian tiled kitchens and bathroom floors.
Brazilian tiles are usually well washed daily or at least weekly with lot's of soap, bleach and plenty of water to be well rinsed and all that water has to go down the drain. Apartment and houses are built with plenty of drains in tiled areas.
Our newly renovated bathroom has Travertine marble heated floors and has no drains, so, no washing Brazilian style here with lots of water, bleach and soap.
Remember that we have Americanized ourselves to a high degree and we have learned to clean our marble floors without all that water fest that we used to see in Brazil.
When I was going to Law School back in Sao Paulo and worked for an American family as a translator, the American lady from Vacaville, California was appalled and disgusted with a bidet she found at her rented apartment at "Portal do Morumbi", a luxurious condominium in Sao Paulo.
I tried to explain to her that it wasn't a place for plants in the bathroom or a urinal but she couldn't believe it, wouldn't accept it.
She told me that must it be a thing of the 3rd world...
-Yes, Irene, 3rd world France...for your information.
-You certainly sound like a sophisticated person.
-We 3rd world people like to be clean. Some day we might develop to a higher redneck degree and give up water and soap in exchange for toilet paper alone. Ok, I never said that, but I should have...
Another American family from Jackson, Mississippi thought a bidet was an urinal. They had two boys and told their boys that it was the place to pee in...oh, my, I had to wonder...
-Am I from another planet? or are these people from a different planet?
I was only 19 and truly thought bidets were a popular thing in Brazil and France only and the outside world had no knowledge of such convenience!!!!
I couldn't judge Vacaville, CA from the impressions of one extremely redneck ignorant person, neither Jackson, Mississippi from the family with the bidet peeing boys.
Watching House Hunters on our HDTV cable channel last week, we saw a realtor from Saint Paul, Minnesota making a comment that you only include a bidet in a bathroom renovation in million dollar homes.
In her words, million dollar homes are almost always expected to have bidets in the US, but you are not supposed to spend money installing a bidet in regular middle class houses.
I guess millionaire Americans have a 3rd world mentality ;)  People won't appreciate it and won't value it for what they are...a waste of money in that experts opinion.
Whoopi Goldberg has mentioned many times that she loves her Toto bidet/toilet combo. She is talking about the electric bidet invented in the early 60's and just now becoming a popular amenity in upscale American homes.
Toto is the most popular bidet brand and they are very expensive. The cheapest ones go for around U$900,00 dollars and the top of the line cost upwards of U$9,000.00 dollars. The most expensive ones, wash and air dry your toosh with warm water and air in addition to a heated seat. These prices are just the bidet itself, not counting the installation and possible adaptions you might need to do in your bathrooms.
We didn't get a Toto yet, but when we renovated our bathrooms we made electrical and plumbing adjustments to accommodate a Toto in the future, so, for now, we just have a regular old fashioned bidet ;)
You can find more information on Toto's website HERE this is the same type of toilet/bidet Whoopi Goldberg installed in her townhouse in Manhattan. She is always raving about her Toto and they have become more and more popular in recent years.

Toto electric bidet adaptation for your regular toilet!

Would you install one at your American home?
Have you adapted and "Brazilianized" yourself with the use of a bidet? or do you completely ignore your bidet and use it as a water fountain, urinal or beer chilling device? :)

Bidet used as a water fountain!

Bidet used for chilling beers :)

Would you spend U$1000.00 to buy a Toto adaptable piece?

Automatic bidets being installed in toilets all across the US!
Any funny Brazilian experience with bidets you would like to share?



Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Vaccine Against Skin and Renal Cancer!

Following dear blogger/friend Danielle's lead, I decided to embark on her great "Caught being good" initiative and share some good news we got from Gil's mom this week.
Yes, I have fully recovered from my hangover originated with this week's negative Florida trip post fiasco :)
"Caught being good" this week is Phd. Jose Alexandre Barbuto, an immunologist at Sao Paulo University (USP), in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who just developed the first Vaccine that is showing to be 80% effective on the treatment and stopping the growth of tumors in Skin and Renal cancer patients.
You can find the original article in English HERE .
This is the contact for the Brazilian company that is producing the Vaccine in Sao Paulo HERE.
You can also find out more information at Hospital Sirio Libanes in Sao Paulo:

Hospital Sírio Libanês - Grupo Genoma.
Telefone do Laboratório: (0800)773-7327 

( ask for Dra. Ana Carolina or Dra. Karyn, for more details )


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Click on Map to Enlarge it!

After my stressful day flying to Florida and back for a 15 minute meeting, I was reminded of how much I hate flying, the day got progressively better, after I wrote my sad, bitter post.
I can't stand Airports anymore, it is getting worse everyday, you literally have to undress yourself to go thru security, you might tell me it has been like this for a while, I will tell you, it is getting worse.
Yesterday, in the chaos of my bad day and mental and physical stress I handed my Credit Card to a TSA official instead of my Driver's License, the guy was literally scratching his head and looking at me trying to figure out what was going on...and I was so stupidly "Jacked UP" after being ripped off by the Thug cab driver, I was thinking WHAT? WHAT NOW?
The poor guy was very patient and asked -I see that your credit card has a picture but, Do you have an actual ID on you Sir?
I looked at him with a confused and embarrassed look...!!!!
-Oh, sorry, yes, off course, that is my Credit Card, sorry, it's been a long and frustrating day!
The poor guy was actually doing his job and I was out of it.
Once last year, American Airlines gave me the WRONG BOARDING PASS, with someone else's name, I didn't see it, then I went on thru security and NOBODY caught it either, those TSA people were so distracted it was ridiculous.
After the incident they got mad at ME, like I had done something wrong.
Excuse me! I know I was distracted, but if you were doing YOUR job, YOU wouldn't have allowed me in with DRIVER'S LICENSE not matching MY BOARDING PASS.
Flying used to be a great pleasure, back in the 80's, when TWA still existed and flight attendants were gentle and nice and helpful.
Nowadays, you have to be afraid of these neurotic divas, you look them the wrong way and they have the power to throw you off the plane, I have seen it happening with my own eyes.
American Airlines is not helping with their falling a part airplanes and rude personnel, they behave like they are doing you are favor to allow you to fly with in their precious junked up Airplanes.
Dear fellow blogger and friend Jana @ Paper Plains described a horrifying event on her recent flight out of Sao Paulo with American Airlines on Paulista Pursuits on this recent post HERE.
It reminded me of a similar incident I had with American Airlines flying out Mexico on a Chicago bound flight last year, same issue, the radars went all out and we had to return to the tarmac and wait for a solution, which in that case, American Airlines mechanics trouble shooting the issue via cell phone from Tulsa, Oklahoma, once they didn't have American Airlines mechanics on site in Mexico.
They didn't take us back to the GATE because if we left the plane, they would be forced to place us in other Airlines and pay for it.
Long story short, we were HOLD HOSTAGE on a parked Airplane all turned off, no A/C, super hot, we were being baked alive, door wide open, flys and other bugs in the airplane, UGH, it was a horrible experience to say the least...!!!
There was a commotion, many people fought and got off the plane, they walked right off the plane on the tarmac and left, I had no choice, didn't want to be a the Newspapers on a foreigner country causing trouble when I was representing my bank in that country. I stayed and waited for ever...along with the other poor souls who had no choice.
They have rules that always benefit the Airlines and put us passengers in the back burner, until they get their crap together. It got progressively worse after 9/11.
Well, Good news on the way! I hope!
Spain built a High Speed Rail between Madrid and Seville and their project was so successful that they have more people traveling by high speed train between those two cities than people traveling by cars and planes combined.
France was able to revitalized many sleepy touristic cities when they added high speed rails as their destinations.
China is building so much High Speed Rail that in 5 years they will offer more options than any other country for this mode of transportation.
And then today, Gil shares THIS story with me.
It brought me a big smile, principally after the awful flying experience I had flying down to Florida yesterday.
I dream of the day we will be able to take High Speed Rail all over the USA.
The Acela is an Express train service, it is only between Boston and Washington DC, I am a frequent Acela passenger, usually going from Providence to New York city is my best option, principally in the winter with the snow and ice and traffic jams, no to mention the absurd cost of parking in New York city, but it is High Speed Rail, far from it. It is only faster than the Regional Amtrak trains because it doesn't stop in every small town along the way.
It would be really great if we can take this project on and turn it into a reality, we need Speed Rail in the US.
If you take a look at THIS excellent article by Wolters Kluwer, Brazil is expected to generate around 30,000 new jobs from the project which is very small comparing to Obama's Vision for High Speed Rail in the US, you can just imagine how many so needed jobs we could create in the US if the Obama administration is able to make this Vision a reality, I hope they succeed.
We can still have the Airplanes for the long distances or for the smaller markets where trains are not profitable, but we definitely need trains between our big American cities, fast, reliable comfortable trains, it will be an important step in freeing us from the turmoils of the International Oil market.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Welcome to 3rd World USA

I have to say I hate the term, but it is the best way to describe my day.
Don't think I am going to bash my beloved country...not exactly.
Let's start from the beginning.
I woke up in beautiful frozen Rhode Island early, SUPER early 3am, got ready and drove to the Airport.
Checked in at Providence TF Green Airport at 5:20am for my 6:30am flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
I have lived in this country for many, many years, 10 years in the Boston area alone, if you reading my blog you know details.
Honestly I am still impressed with the efficiency of services and transportation here just to name a few.
The state of Rhode Island just built an awesome train station right at the Airport with a beautiful glass moving side walk connecting a gigantic Parking Garage to the Airport, all enclosed and heated thank you very much...
The Airport already had an amazing amount of parking space in it's many concrete Garages around the Airport, a great infrastructure, for an area that is always snowing or raining, the comfort of covered Parking is priceless.
PVD ( Providence International Airport ) is a very small secondary Airport just 38 miles south of Boston Logan and it amazes me to no end that you find 10 times more decent Parking at PVD than at the Sao Paulo International Airport, a main hub for International travel in Brazil and a real nightmare for Parking, if you live in Sao Paulo you know exactly what I am talking about.
How can Providence and Tampa have HUGE Parking facilities when Sao Paulo, a city of 18 million has a small patio like area for parking. Well, the fact that Brazilian Airports are owed by the government explains part of it.
In the US it is almost all Private money making investments where it makes sense.
Back to the beginning of my day...
We had to sit at the Tarmac for a long while because it was Snowing and our plane had to be Defrosted...
At the same time we watched a line of about 80 dump trucks being filled with snow from the run ways, see, we have had so much snow since Christmas that they need room to push new snow in and clear the biggie, I had taken off in much worse snow storms, in the Boston/Providence area they have great infra-structure/equipment at the Airports and they only really run into trouble and shut down for a few hours if you get more than a couple feet, yes, I said feet, of snow. I know you folks from Georgia and Texas are thinking feet? Yes, I know, Airports in Atlanta and Dallas come to a complete stand still if they get half an inch of snow. Their method of clearing the snow if my favorite, they wait until the weather gets warmer to melt it away.
We watched ( and laughed ) when London got mere 4 inches of snow just before Christmas and people had to sleep in the Airport for a whole week...What the hell people, buy some plows and snow tires for your freaking trucks and call it a day.
Just yesterday Gil was sharing with me the most fascinating fact. All of the SALT used in the Northeast during the winter comes from GIGANTIC deep underground SALT MINES that are located right under the city of Cleveland, YES, you heard me right, I would think some Florida or California coastal community right? No, freaking CLEVELAND, Ohio, it is from a dried up underground ancient sea that used to be there millions of years ago, how cool is that?
Ok, back my day, if you know me, you know I side track like noboby's business ;)
Plane de iced, we take off, flight is good and uneventful, besides the usual idiotic young parents with the out of control 2 year olds...I came prepared, plugs in ear, face mask, neck pillow, Tylenol PM, I was gone for the 3 and a half hour flight between Providence and Ft.Lauderdale.
We land and I wake up with the actual touching down of the plane, I was out the whole time.
When I took my face mask off, I was suddenly blinded my the freaking strong SUNNY south Florida figures I completely forgot my sunglasses, I have barely seen the sun since sometime before Christmas, it's either raining, snowing or cloudy, don't feel sorry for me, that is the way I love it.
Ok, I recover from the semi blindness state just in time to walk out of the plane into 81 degrees, OUCH!
I came from 25 degrees this I quickly adapted and the town car was already waiting and ready to take me to my meeting.
On the ride, I had a chance to glance at the local newspaper just to find out that Crime Rates in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami have been soaring recently and have surpassed DETROIT!!!! I know, my thoughts exactly...!!!
Welcome to the 3rd World.
Just for the record, the Miami and Ft.Lauderdale areas have 70% of the population who don't even speak English...that pisses me off to no end.
You go to a bank of America and a semi-neurotic Cuban speaks to you in a 200 mile an hour Spanish that really sounds like a machine gun.
Remember how Seinfeld used to portrait the Hispanic Gay couple, he wasn't exaggerating. I swear, you have to be here to believe it.
Good news is that my 1 hour meeting turned out to be 15 minutes and it was total success.
No problem, I flew 3 and a half hours to get here and take care of business, and it was great. Done.
Back to the Airport.
My Town car was schedule for much later, so I canceled it and called a cab to zoom me to the Airport and see if I could catch an earlier flight back to Providence.
I felt like the Gringos complaining about catching a cab in the 3rd world and being ripped off...
I used to live in the Miami area and know exactly how much a cab costs, I was going 3 exits on the highway to the Airport and my fare shouldn't cost more than 8 or 9 dollars.
The literally stinking Haitian Taxi driver pushed some buttons on his Taxi meter and before we drove a couple of miles of I-95 I noticed the meter going up very fast already above 10 dollars.
I asked him what was wrong with his meter, how come it was going up so fast...????
He replied in very broken English that I could barely understand:
-If you don't like my meter, I can drop you off right here on the side of the highway...!!! What is it gonna be???
I remembered on my way to the office reading about all the corruption and out of control crime surging in Florida right now and decided to shut my mouth and fork it over the 37 dollars for the 5 mile trip.
I am not xenophobic at all, I understand we as a country need immigrants to keep our economy thriving and vibrant, but sometimes, I wish the US was a little bit more tough and or selective with immigrants.
Some Hispanics in Florida treat you like garbage if you don't speak Spanish, heck, I am fluent in Spanish and I am treated poorly very often.
There is a big controversy going on in Massachusetts right now because some Muslims are suing the state because they feel there children have been offended to have to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, WHAT???????
Are you kidding me???
Drive to Logan and go back to the miserable dictatorship you just left behind and leave us alone, otherwise it's time to hurry up and Americanize yourself.
If you want to be here, respect the culture you choose to live in, respect the country that have welcomed you in a time of need.
Just for the record, I have nothing against Hispanics, Haitians or Muslims in general.
Just the neurotic Cubans who are rude to me when I visit Miami, the thug stinking Taxi Driver I had today in Ft. Lauderdale and the idiotic Muslims who are suing the Massachusetts School system.
Sorry, folks, my style is more positive posts than this heavy complaining stuff I am venting out about today...but I just had to share this with you guys, plus I am sleep deprived, super tired and mentally stressed.
If you are from the US you probably understand what I am talking about, but Brazilians who have a Disneyland/Hollywood image of the US and cannot believe we are a country with problems, conflicts and crap just like everyone else.
They need to read about this to understand a little bit more about the realities of living in the US.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

What will you do for love?

Hey, today I decided to cook feijoada!
Yes, you heard me right, it is freaking cold in Rhode Island today, we have been hit with ridiculous amounts of snow and ICE on top of it which makes a romantic snow day a memory of the past...December to be more specific.
You might drive 40 minutes to buy your loved one some traditional American Peanut Butter...
I drove 40 minutes ( each way ) to go get Gil some Farofa! Yes, authentic Brazilian farofa, our favorite brand, which I can only find at the Brazilian stores in the East Providence area.
Our large grocery stores, Stop & Shop and Shaw's also carry farofa, but not our favorite brand, you know, if you like Jif, you like Jif or Skippy and you just won't be happy with "Amendocrem".
Gil and I like Farofa Yoki, so the nasty "Minas" brand sold at our local Stop & Shop just won't do.
Off to East Providence where I also bought some "Erva Doce" Tea, Requeijao, Frozen Pao de Queijo, Linguica, and of course FAROFA YOKI!
I know, you go for one thing and buy U$40,00 worth of goodies.

FAROFA YOKI bought at East Providence's Brazilian Store, PONTO 1
This is already seasoned, if you live in Brazil, buy it, it is great, tastes very good, it is the number one in sales, so it's always fresh.
Most people eat it with Churrasco, the typical Brazilian barbecue, we eat it with everything...Gil likes it with almost every meal. I only like it with some meats and beans.
While I drove to East Providence to get our so loved favorite FAROFA brand, Gil started on a delicious FEIJOADA, which we make from canned beans, Hey! I have confessed time and time again how Americanized beyond repair we have become after living here for so many years. 13 years to be exact.
Brazilians would be really disgusted if they found out we are making  FEIJOADA with canned beans, garlic powder and onion powder.
Sorry, we have given up on that battle a long time ago, most dry beans we buy here are really hard, probably because they don't sell as much, they get old sitting at the store shelves for so long.
So when in Rome, do as the Romans...while in America go with CANNED BEANS and DRIED SEASONING.
No Pressure cooker going for hours around here. Open the freaking can, season the beans with Garlic Powder and Onion Powder and call it a day!
Sorry, I am practical, no crying over cutting onions and dealing with hands smelling like Garlic for days...well, not often anyway...just when we are inspired.
Ok, we have fresh Collard Greens, that stuff in the CANS just makes me gag with the thought of it, we have bought a CAN of Collard Greens but were never brave enough to open it, some day, maybe, we need to get Americanized to a more ridiculous level to be able to bare the thought of even opening a CAN of Collard Greens. Sorry!
Collard Greens is a very PORTUGUESE thing by the way. I don't know why or how it got connect to African Americans in the South of the US. I will probably try to find out how that happened.
Portuguese people grow Collard Greens in the gardens and eat it very often.
Brazilians love it with Feijoada and if you are an Expat living in Brazil, you have seen it many times.
We remembered to buy oranges which we will have it sliced and serve next to our mean FEIJOADA.
Ok. so I am mouth watering right now, our FEIJOADA is ready and I will help Gil with setting up our dinning room for the Brazilian Feast of the night  :)
Just for the record, I can't stand FEET, EARS, TAIL or any other kind of disgusting PORK meat SOME BRAZILIANS like to pup in their FEIJOADA.
Our FEIJOADA is made with BABY BACK PORK RIBS, BRAZILIAN LINGUICA, PORK CHOPS, PORK LOIN and that is it, we mix a little bit of kidney beans with the Black Beans which makes for a richer stew.
What better dish for our brutally cold winter in Rhode Island?
Pancakes with warmed up real Maple Syrup! Ok, that is our Sunday morning breakfast ;)
Here is a picture of our FEIJOADA:

I know it looks UGLY, but it is so DELICIOUS it's not even funny!  :)

An Awesome Brazilian Meal in the Coldest Winter we ever faced in Rhode Island!