Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brazilian Things that Make Me Go "Huh?"

In all the time I've lived in Rio de Janeiro there are some things I still do not get. Here's the list:

1. The obsession with babies and socks. It could be 104 degrees but their toes are cold. They've melted off and onto the sidewalk but I'll scoop them up and put them into socks if it makes you happy.

2. The one piece workout suit. Please refer to the above photo. I'm sorry but regardless of the make up and attempt at edgy accessories, the 80s are over and they want their jumpsuit back.

3. Kids at bars. No, not all bars but at some street bars. Personally, I like to drink without the company of preschoolers. Just saying.

4. That cold floors give people colds. Seriously, people say that. It gives them a cold. I thought science existed and thus stopped this kind of madness.

5. How weather changes cause colds. I thought it was pretty well known that viruses cause them. Coincidentally viruses tend to be common around the same time as fall, aka weather changing time. Am I the only one who has heard of science?

6. Coca Cola and toddlers. Why not just give them crack?! And no, the argument that they love it does not fly. How do they know what it is in the first place?! Btw, I had to practically backhand the family to keep the coke away from my boys.

7. Avocado and milk Vitaminas (smoothies). Sure, your avocados are sweet and you add sugar but it's still nasty! I'll take my avocado on a salad thank you very much. You go ahead and think I'm the crazy one.

8. Sleeping over at your adult boyfriend's parent's apartment. Talk about a walk of shame... right into the living room. It's culturally ok and my husband expects me to open the doors for our boys when they are older. FYI, this is a future blog post.

9. The live-in maid. Maybe in a mansion but in my tiny ass apartment that barely fits my collection of American Girls dolls... Did I just say that out loud? Ignore it. I'm lying.

10. Black beans with spaghetti pasta. My boys LOVE it. When they won't eat anything else, they'll eat this. It makes me gag. Oh well, Iron and Carbs...


  1. Last week we went to a restaurant and had a ton of food left over, and even though Alexandre was embarrassed, I insisted on getting a to-go box or something. Well, it was a little place in the mall, but the employee took my food and scraped it all into the styrofoam box herself!! In front of me! I WAS SO UNCOMFORTABLE! I just wanted to do it myself!

  2. Funny post. I love reading about weird things in other countries!

  3. #8 haha! growing up in my house my older brother had NO shame, and I would often tell him that. SMH.

  4. At least you have black beans! I miss them ever so much over here in France.

    Somehow a lot of other countries have missed the memo about science. My boyfriend's mom told me that the air conditioning in her car is the reason for her cold...

  5. I slept in my mother in law's house before i was married...and we slept in my parents house in the states! oops!

    my husband insists that cold floors make you sick. he is extremely intelligent but you cannot take the Brazil out of any Brazilian.

    I LOVE avocado milk shakes! apple and avocado are perfect together, i've even done them in an ice cream. i dont make them very often though because it's enough "energy" for an entire meal. maybe for a breakfast or before a 15K run.

    The beans kinda makes sense--if you see hardcore street marmitas they almost always throw spaghetti straight onto the beans and rice. i like to think of it as classic worker fare :P not that i would eat it though...

  6. No. 1,4 and 5 - Old wive's tales and superstition seem to be deeply ingrained in the culture. Have any of you ever had your baby begin to hiccup and either your Brazilian spouse or family member wets a little piece of paper and plasters it on the kids forehead? I was literally speechless for five minutes seeing this for the first time. Strange juju.

    No 3 - It's not only bars that let kids in that is different. Nothing like going to a nice romantic dinner with your spouse at an upper scale restaurant and sitting near a table occupied with running screaming kids and crying babies. It's like you never left home in the first place!

    No 6 - Definitely still a point of contention with me. We do battle over this regularly. Nothing like having a family get together with about a dozen toddlers and kids wired out of their minds on coke and Guarana (only twice the caffeine as cola!).

    No 7 - I tried the avocado shake thing twice and and almost blew my cookies both times. Avacados are for salads or guacamole - not sweet drinks.

    No 10 - I can do the black beans and spag. What I can't get used to is the hot dog in tomato pasta sauce or the homemade pizza with mussarela, sliced ham and genuine KETCHUP! Yuck.

  7. I'm loving all the sharing!

    Greg, it's a cotton ball and my MIL got so pissed when I took it off my kid's forehead. I wasn't in the room when it got there and I was confused with how it got stuck there in the first place.

  8. LOL, We didn't have cotton balls in the house so I guess they improvised with kleenex.

  9. "that barely fits my collection of American Girls dolls"

    I knew it!

    On "things about Brazil I will never understand" I would add giving money to those extortion artists (closet bums I call them), that "safeguard" your car yet not tipping the guy at the gas station after he has checked your oil and watered off the dirt from your car windows. Which brings me to something I observed long ago: in Brazil, like in so many Latin countries ( South American and European alike) people confuse pity with compassion. Hence those extortion bums at parking lots get money.

  10. OMG! You have me laughing my ass off again! Love your blog! Been in Rio for 2 years and although my kids are a bit older than yours, the customs/traditions never fail to make me stop in my tracks! The sleeping at the boyfriend's parents home brought back some rather uncomfortable memories - ha!

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  12. Hahahaha i have to say it's not just the Brazilians that have these beliefs about cold floors...My Croatian girlfriends and i are 25 years old and we laugh about how our mothers told us not to sit on a cold floor or concrete because our ovaries would freeze and we wouldn't be able to have kids....Even though we laugh about it i can guarantee none of them including myself would ever do it...i know it sounds dumb but it's what we've been brought up with! Also we too blame the changing weather for catching a cold! Hahaha

  13. MY opinion:
    Black beans with spaghetti pasta. People I know don't do it.
    Avocados are fruit/dessert
    A live-in maid makes your life easier...u wake up and breakfast is ready at the table.
    I've never heard the cotton bal / kleneex story before.

    ps:"I would add giving money to those extortion artists (closet bums I call them), that "safeguard" your car" ....I dont think people tip the guy out of compassion/pity , I think they do it because the guy could do sth bad / dangerous to you so u give him money out of fear.

  14. I cannot get enough of all the voodo/magic/superstition that exists down there. It boggles my mind!

  15. First time (only time) I tried an avocado smoothie I was not told what it was, just told to try it. And then asked what I thought of it... "It tastes like I am drinking a turkey sandwich." My friend's face was horrified, but honestly, that's what it tasted like.

    As for the coke and children, THANK YOU. Everybody tells me that little Brazilian children are wired because they are Brazilian, like it is a genetically inhereted trait. I want to scream from the rooftops that it isn't so, but nobody listens to me. Oh well. (I have made my MIL sware that when we have kids she will not be feeding them coffee and coke. She says OK, but we shall see...)

  16. -Spaghetti and Beans in Sao Paulo will get you a straight jacket.
    -Pizza and Catchup will get you in jail for the night.


  17. Can I add, along with the onesie workout leotard, the knee-high white athletic socks that the girls pull over the legging part? It just looked so hot. I mean literally hot, like one would faint from wearing that getup in the heat. What is up with that fad?

  18. I have to say that I am Brazilian and I will never get used to the asking for my Social Security Number ( CPF ) when I am buying Tic Tacs at the corner Bakery, that get's my blood boiling every time!!!

  19. I drank coffee (with milk)from the baby bottle and I thank mom for that. I really love coffee, and I didn't turn out to be a heavy coffee drinker, and, yes, I also drank lots of Coke and Guarana when I was a toddler and I was pretty much a quiet kid (speaking of superstitions X science...).
    Oh, this Old avocado arm wrestle... Well, as a Brazilian I say I LOVE avocado shakes and cream of avocado (blended with sugar and lime) WITH ALL THE FORCE OF MY BEING! LOVE IT, LOVE IT and LOVE IT! In my culture, avocado is a FRUIT and like a fruit it is preferentially consumed. But I love to toss it in my salads as well. A tomato is also technically a fruit and in this country (U.S.), people drink caned tomato juice. There is nothing in this whole wide world more disgusting to us than "PORK AND BEANS" SWEET, GAG, GAG, GAG, made with molasses and God knows what else. So, I guess, after Pork and Beans "we're even" on the whole avocado controversy.
    Every freaking people around the world have its share of popular beliefs and superstitions. Brazil is no different on this matter and I must say some reactions among the commenter's sound to me a bit exaggerated.
    Here in the U.S., for example, I've heard that boiled eggs make you constipated, eating spicy food gives you an ulcer, sitting on a hot radiator or cold wall gives you piles and so on.
    I always believed that we all can create our own "family culture" when living in a country full of "weird habits and beliefs, and it works like using a strainer in which you allow to retain only what you think is acceptable and either ignore or have fun with the rest.
    The so called "flanelinhas" - those guys who are supposed to watch your car when you're absent - are nothing but social parasites exploiting both your pity and fear from getting your car taken or damaged by themselves if you fail to give them money and they might recognize next time you're around.
    I am a Paulista and in SP black beans are eaten mostly by outsiders (we think it looks pretty much unappetizing) although we use it in the feijoada making. By the way, we call this kind of bean "carioquinha". Speaking of black beans, just the idea of eating it with pasta makes me gag, but I think it must be somewhat popular in other parts of Brazil.


  20. I know it! What is up with the socks?? My mother-in-law (who has now been banned from our apartment - eventual new post) and her friends were always bugging me about putting socks on my daughter - and there is nothing she hates more than hot feet. I think the whole feet things must have its roots in religion... they wash their feet on New Year's Eve to worship and request from the goddess Yemanja,,,

    And my Brazilian brother-in-law tried to give her Coke this past weekend. She took a big sip before I could get to her, but thank goodness she hates it anyway. Nothing I can imagine that could be worse for a kid... except brigadeiro.

  21. Gil - you totally got us on the pork and beans. In fact, you got us on any beans that come from a can. I kind of like the avocado dessert, but you have to eat it quick, can't let it hang around the refrigerator awhile.

  22. brigadeiro is good :-)))
    i ve never had coke when I was a baby but i think its normal to drink coke/guarana when u r 5 y.o. (not that is good for you of course).
    but the same way i would never feed my child PB&J sandwich, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese,...for me they are all disgusting and not "real" food.

  23. Anonymous - you got us on the PB&J. I actually suggested in the presence of my Brazilian family that we serve it at my daughter's 3 birthday party. I believe one or two of them passed out.

  24. Chicken nuggets really aren't real food. A good pb&j with good sugarless peanut butter and real fruit jam on whole wheat bread is good for you!

    As for the coffee with milk, I had to fight with my oldest's first daycare because they served it twice a week at snack time. I told them hell no! He was 18 months old...

  25. After reading all of this I have concluded that it must be really hard to be a mother.
    Thank you God for sparing me this plight.

  26. Hi there, Born Again Brazilian. First of all, I want you to know that I totally understand and support your decision of safeguarding the peace of your home keeping away the well-intentioned but smothering mother in law.

    Now, about the "obsession" of Brazilian moms with baby socks, well, it is funny that their concern with their babies comfort ends up backfiring as the kids appear to disagree on the comfort aspect.

    Finally, on the pork and beans aberration, I'm glad we agree on this one. Americans love the combination of sweet and salty playing on their taste buds, but USUALLY it's not true among Brazilians. For the most part, we don't take very well this mix of contrasting tastes and rarely we find it in the typical Brazilian cuisine (that is basically considered RUSTIC). For a regular Brazilian, sweet is sweet, salty is salty, we don't mix both. But even when we do, it's rather subtle and a well balanced combination. But to me that pork and bean "thing" is really over the top. That's REALLY sweet as salty and fatty (ugh). And, yes, you're totally right on eating avocado desserts only when it's fresh, but I think it's true for any other avocado food, like guacamole, for example.

    It's nice to hear from you dear B.A.B.!

    Grande abraço.


  27. Hi Gil! Thanks for your support on the mother-in-law ban :) Did I mention she rearranged my underwear drawer while I was away for the weekend? She actually moved it too, so every time I go to get some underwear, and find socks instead, I get angry.

    Any news on your move back to Brazil??!!

  28. Mr. Rant's aunt said that the Grandmother did that to her. Actually, while she was on her honeymoon the grandmother (her MIL) went into their new place and totally reorganized it. THe Aunt called her over to the house and totally told her off. They didn't speak for a while but now have a very good relationship

  29. FYI, I do not recommend this!

  30. Oops. Too late (the telling her off part...)

  31. Hi, B.A.B. I don't think I knew about the drawer situation, though, most definitely, I find it to be unacceptable to say the least. Honestly I don't know if its part of Brazilian culture, but what I know for sure is that I never heard of such thing before, and if it happened to me, be sure I would be mad as hell and, as we say in Brazil, "I'd put my mother in law in her place". Too bad if she took it the wrong way. No one have the right to go through anyone's personal stuff like an underwear drawer, much less my mother in law! Not even my own mother would dare to! I just hope your husband understands the boundaries you have been forced to draw in order to keep some privacy in your own home.

    Now, talking about our plan about Brazil, we're still trying to get a job there. So it's just a matter of time.

    That's it for now.

    Hope the situation with your mother in law improves.

    Take care yourself.



  32. Well I think is a question of culture. I never ate black beans & past in 40 years I lived in Brasil. But looking from the opposite side, I think is horrible to have sweet beans with hot dogs...WTH?? But I don't judge...

  33. It´s not such a stupid thing to say cold causes colds. Some hypothesis state that being in the cold or rain can cause the body to lower in temperature and strain the immune system, making it easier for viruses to get a stronghold.
    If your body gets cold, your body temperature lowers. While your body is busy making itself warm, there is less energy reserves to fight of diseases. Your immune system is weakened, and therefore you will be more susceptible to viruses.