Thursday, May 19, 2011

One of the Beauties in Being an Expat...

There are many beauties in the lives of us expats.  We get to learn about new cultures, travel, and sometimes learn new languages (yes this is a blessing). One of the unexpected beauties for me came in the form of all the other great expats I would meet. I mean, we are drawn to each other like Mr. Schwarzenegger's hand to an ass! And let's not forget that he's an expat in his own right. 

Take today for instance. This American expat went to the home of a Mexican expat and learned to make real corn tortillas from scratch! Mexico, your secret is out of the bag! And you know what, it's not that hard if you don't count the fact that they don't sell the flour you need in Rio de Janeiro. 

And I had a blast! Good company, fun activity, and it ended with a damn good snack. Throw in the adorable baby cheering us on and you have got yourself a great afternoon away from the kids... mine anyway. 

The thing is, we expats kind of end up sticking together. There's a comradery there because of our similar situations. We are all far from home, we are learning about the same new culture/lifestyle, and we can speak to each other in English (or whatever language is your preference)!

It's a part of expat life that I've only just started exploring in the past couple of years or so. And I love the random mix of friends from different places, backgrounds, and lifestyles. At the same time, I think I'm making some friendships that will last a lifetime.

I know I'm getting corny. Don't feel bad for getting nauseous, I just threw up in my mouth a bit too. 

But the point is, I like this part of life here. It's fun to know and meet a new group of people.

By the way, you get total brownie points if Mexican food is involved! 


  1. I have never felt attracted to Brazilians living in NL. Never. Actually, I know just a few. I am comfortable enough knowing other foreigners and Dutch people.

  2. That's what I mean though. I mean all people who are living in a country other then their home country. I am not attracted to any one nationality in particular, although the Fins do know how to clean a kitchen ;)

  3. Visitor from twitter. Glad to find your blog. Looks awesome!

  4. Expats are a fun loving bunch, just avoid French ones that preside over the IMF, they tend to flip out.

    BTW it was the ass that went out of its way to encounter Arnie's hand (so said the lawyer at the time, who is now actually defending the French dude).

    Best specific expat group: girls from Iceland who can play the harp, sing and feed you grapes at the same time.

    Worse expat group: does who overdue the going native bit. The cool thing is to naturally blend your own personality and ways into the culture, to be unique and awesome ( I am holding up a mirror now). I always think of Mr. Howard Jones and his wise words when thinking about this.

    Video here.

  5. Thanks imperfect!

    Gritty, always the bucket of information. Personally I find the Icelandics a bit clingy for my taste! That and the harp is a beautiful instrument in small doses...

    And I have a hard time not entering into the worst expat group. I mean I am tall, have no curves, am super white, and light eyes. I blend in like camouflage!

  6. Rachel, I loved that you pointed this out. Here in Rio, as an American, I have found myself friends with lots of people from various country - and as much as I try to blend in here (I mostly have Brazilian friends, mostly speak portuguese, mostly live a Brazilian life) I do find myself seeking out English speakers on occasion.

    Everytime I find myself participating in a hash house harry or spending time with other foreigners, I think about how this is so condemned in the US. So many Americans thoroughly criticize Brazilians or hispanics for spending time together and speaking a language other than English with their friends.

    Being an expat in Brazil has given me a whole new view on that (though I was never as big a critic as many). Its freaking exhausting having to speak another language, cook different food, live by other rules ALL the time. Everyone needs a break now and then.

  7. You had me going with the corn tortilla reference -- until you confirmed the flour is not available here. Tease.

    I have a student group that is traveling to Los Angeles next week. I'm going to make a spicy guacamole with Doritos for our class on Tuesday.

    They will enjoy the preview of Mexican food in LA - and maybe think of me when they get back to continue the classes.

  8. Rachel, Jim,

    No reason for panic! :)
    My Mexican friends in Brazil buy the Yellow Corn Flour in flakes, ( Farinha de Milho em Flocos ), the best brand is "YOKI", then they put it in the food processor ( or even a common blender) and grind it a little to make it more like the one in Mexico, less flaky, more powder.
    Then mix it with some water and a little corn oil, press it hard to make the dough, rolling pin the hell out of it, then it's your choice oven or heat it up on a regular frying pan, and voila!! Tortillas!! :)
    If that fail, just go on line at Pao de Acucar Delivery, they have delivery in Rio and Niteroi, they have a section just for MEXICAN products, here is the link:


  9. Jim,

    I just double checked their website, it says Rio de Janeiro, I am not sure if it's the whole state or just the city. Go in there and click on "Entregas" then put your zip code and check if they deliver in Niteroi!

  10. But no flour. I will discuss yoki with my Mexican friend. I have just decided she is an authority on corn tortillas ;)

    As for the tease part, dude, I made the word!

    Anon, I hear ya. I hung out principally with Brazilians for years. It's nice to take a break and have to search my brain for a word!

  11. Ray - and old Sendas grocery store in Niterói was just bought out and replaced with a Pão de Açucar. I'll go take a look.

    Did you notice the prices on the link you gave?

    210g box of tortilla chips: R$23,53
    40g packet of burrito spice mix: R$9,52
    12 crispy taco shells: R$15,94


  12. I feel very flattered for the fame as a kitchen cleaner but I'm starting to wait for some reference to my fabulous pizza making skills! :P

    And you have to teach me how to make corn tortillas!

  13. But if I tell people you make amazing thin crust pizza and how you know how to clean, You'll become so popular that you have no time for me. Yes, I'm a selfish bitch! ;)

  14. Jim I didn't even look at the prices. It makes me cry

  15. I am lucky that my brother brought out 5 lbs. of cal for me on his last trip out. I actually am able to nixtamalize canjica and run it through my grain mill to make authentic masa for corn tortillas and tamales (thanks to my Mexican grandma for teaching me). You can try corn flour here but it will not be the same since it is not nixtamalized (treated with calcium hydroxide).

  16. Yikes, no Jim, I didn't notice the prices.
    Pao de Acucar is a high end grocery store by the way.
    It is probably worth checking their web site often once they have stuff going on sale all the time, they put a big red mark next to the stuff on sale.
    I am going to ask my sister too, she makes Mexican stuff at home from scratch.
    Hey, Greg sounds like he knows what he is talking about...

  17. Greg - EXACTLY! Please give the exact name of the product you use to add the "lime" (calcium hydroxide) to your corn flour. And what are the proportions? We are solving big dilemmas here...

    Better yet!: write a post for Danielle's Cooking in Brazil blog!! Please.

  18. Better yet, Tortilla making party! Pictures and blog post for Danielle's cooking blog afterward