August 21, 2012

It is once again time to find out who will call themselves the most knowledgeable person in São Paulo for the rest of this year, via the Annual Brains of São Paulo competition organized by the Round Table Brazil No.1 – São Paulo.

This fundraiser is a Trivial Pursuits type of quiz for teams of four with questions on eight different subjects such as Sports, History, Current Affairs, General Knowledge and so on.

The 2012 Brains of São Paulo competition will be held this year at the Brazilian British Centre, 4th Floor, Rua Ferreira de Arajo, 741, Pinheiros on Saturday September 15th from 6:00pm prompt.

As always, all proceeds will go to the Charity Fund of the Round Table Brasil No.1 – São Paulo, which supports various charitable projects, in and around São Paulo. In the past these included several orphanages, homes for children with AIDS or cancer, social projects in favelas like pre-school projects and day-care centers for children of working women.

All support is greatly appreciated and even if you are unable to participate we would be grateful if you could pass on the details of the Brains Night to others (or even make a donation!).

Entries for the Brains Night are limited to about 40 teams on a first come, first serve basis, so enter now to guarantee your place.

The cost of entry is R$80 per team, payable on the night.

If you wish to enter, please complete the form on the website at http://www.rtbrazil.com.

August 21, 2012

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send your own comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Do Brazilian men call their adult sons: “meu amor”? My Bazilian boyfriend ends every tel conversation he has with his adult sons with “beijos meu amor”

— Faye

PS can you respond by e-mail rather than on the website?

Hi, Faye,

Sorry we can’t send private emails, otherwise this column wouldn’t exist.

Now answering your question: Yes, “meu amor” is very common, either to adult sons or even (believe me) unknown people.

In the present novela, Avenida Brasil, there’s a character, Veronica, representing the king of people that call everyone “meu amor”. It would be the American “honey”, or “darling”.

Beijos,

Vanessa Agricola

Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you’re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

Previous articles in this series:

Ask a Brazilian: Tourism and Gestures
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Missed Dates
Ask a Brazilian: Couples and Separate Rooms
Ask a Brazilian: São Paulo Safety
Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy
Ask a Brazilian: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
Ask a Brazilian: Answering a Question
Ask a Brazilian: Revoked Visa
Ask a Brazilian: Pedestrian Problems
Ask a Brazilian: Trash
Ask a Brazilian: Tiles
Ask a Brazilian: Headlights
Ask a Brazilian: Differences and Love
Ask a Brazilian: What Do the Police Do?
Ask a Brazilian: Contractor Frustrations
Ask a Brazilian: English Books and Brazilian Boys
Ask a Brazilian: Cold Cahaca
Ask a Brazilian: Interruptions
Ask a Brazilian: Travel and Security Concerns
Ask a Brazilian: Gestures and Toys
Ask a Brazilian: Hispanics or Latinos, and Duvets
Ask a Brazilian: Overbearing Sogros
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Bank Transfers
Ask a Brazilian: Swimming, Showers and New Year’s
Ask a Brazilian: Making Friends
Ask a Brazilian: Female Etiquette
Ask a Brazilian: Washing Machines
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers

By Joe Naab
August 21st, 2012

If I have one regret after my eight years in Brazil, it’s that I didn’t take up partner dancing, here called Salon Dancing, the moment I arrived. It’s a healthy and fun activity, a great hobby, and a great way to make friends and to possibly meet a romantic interest.

Most people outside of Brazil think that Samba is the most popular salon dance here in Brazil. This isn’t the case. First off, Samba is most often danced alone, in place, and this is called Samba no pé”. It’s what you see during Carnaval. The partner form of Samba is called “Samba Gafieira”, and it is learned in a dance academy. Dancing Samba Gafierira can be difficult, involving a lot of fancy legwork like you see in Tango. Danced properly, each move, or “pass”, takes a couple of meters of dance floor to execute making it nearly impossible to dance on a crowded dance floor. Danced properly, everyone present must know the proper etiquette of the “rotation” dance floor. This means that they all couples must move around the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction. This is to avoid slamming into each other. The idea is that you’ll let the people in front of you move out ahead of you in the counter-clockwise direction, thus creating space for you that you know they won’t use coming back in your direction, so you can comfortably execute your pass without risk of collision.

Another thing to note is that a lot of Brazilians think poorly of Samba Gafieira, saying that it’s not real samba, that it’s a creation of the samba salon movement. There is a more simple way of dancing samba in pairs, which really isn’t samba, per se, but two people holding each other and dancing together to the rhythm of the music.

Dance styles that you’ll encounter in Brazilian Salon Dancing and dance academies are Samba, Bolero, Forró, Tango, Zouk, and Salsa. West Coast Swing has recently arrived and each region will also have it’s own salon styles that are only danced locally.

Enter Forró
Forró can only be danced in pairs. It is a much simpler dance form than Samba, and much easier to learn. It’s so easy for the women to learn that most can forego any lessons at all, especially those who have experience in other dance forms. A woman who has never danced in a pair, and has good rhythm and an affinity to learn, can learn in about four lessons and then will finish her learning on the dance floor at the Forró dance parties.

The dance of Forró today consists of two general parts that the man will alternate between during each song depending on how he wants to lead. The first part is called dancing “juntinho”, or close together. Ideally, this is chest-to-chest and cheek-to-cheek, very close, with legs interlocking, which makes it much easier to lead (and, yes, more enjoyable). The further north you go in Brazil the closer people dance together when dancing forró. People in the south are more reserved and some women prefer about the width of one’s hand’s distance between torso’s. They might do this with men they don’t know or don’t care much to dance with, and then dance closely with a man they know.

The second part consists of the “passes”, or the turns and other moves done once separated, though almost always with one or both hands connected. These moves resemble the turns from Salsa, and were in fact added to Forró by dancers of Salsa as the forms of forró were evolving in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago. Early forró was only danced “juntinho” and anyone can still dance this way for the entire song, especially when the dance floor is packed. When packed, this is about all you can do.

In addition to “juntinho”, the earlier forms of forró, which still exist, and are sometimes called pé na Serra, though this is more the name for the original style of music of forró, also included some fun leg play.

The Order of Learning
When learning forró, you will start with the basic step, which is essentially “juntinho”. You then learn the move to transition into dancing separate, with hands connection, which is called, “the mirror”, or “espelho”. A beginner will use the mirror as a crutch while he’s thinking how to enter a sequence of turns. With experience the mirror is entered into so briefly as to almost not be used at all. From the mirror all other moves are entered. These are regular spins of the woman and the man, reverse turns of the woman and man, and quite a bit more.

The best way to know forró is to see it danced…

Three examples of Basic to Intermediate Level Forró
I have always loved these three videos. These guys are so smooth and make forró look so simple and beautiful and romantic. They each dance with the same girl. I am at this level and beyond, yet watching me from the outside will not be anywhere as pleasing as watching these guys.

Four More Advanced Examples
“Advanced” can mean a lot of things. Often, it’s simply to complexity of the moves performed. It can also be the ability to dance well when the music is very fast.

Develop Your Own Style
In the beginning, you’ll be so focused on learning the basics and not “screwing up”, that you have no time to think about style. As you get better there is a natural tendency to copy the style of one or more of the dancers you think highly of. Eventually, your own style will shine through if you let it. This only comes from spending hundreds of hours on the dance floor such that all the moves are natural and you’re no longer thinking, but rather leading with spontaneity effortlessly.

In Closing
I hope this gives you a nice taste of what has become my favorite dance rhythm. You can find it in any Brazilian city and people also dance it at house parties. You can make it as simple or as complex as you’d like. You learn it with private lessons and at the many dance academies that you’ll find in most every Brazilian city. Have fun!

Joe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life!, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He is presently working on a near-coastal, countryside real estate subdivision project outside the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. He can be found at http://brazilforlife.com and reached by email at info@brazilforlife.com. His Youtube channel is called BrazilforLifeTV.

Previous articles by Joe:

Add Thousands of Brazilian Portuguese Words to Your Vocabulary Right Now
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By Joe Naab
August 1st, 2012

Growing in both the Amazon Rainforest, as well as the subtropical South Atlantic Rainforest, is a palm tree called Juara” (joo-SAH-rah), that produces the widely popular fruit, “Aai” (ah-sigh-EE). Aai is consider if not the, then one of the most very nutritious foods found on the planet. Sparing you the details, Aai is loaded with about every great vitamin and mineral your body needs, and it has great proteins, quality fats and is loaded with anti-oxidants.

Aai Must be Made into a Pulp
The aai berry has a very thick, inedible outer skin. At it’s center is a woody seed. In between the seed and the outer skin is the rich and edible pulp. Note that even this pulp does not taste all that well. It is sour, not sweet, and almost always mixed with one or more other foods to improve the taste.

The pulp is extracted either with industrial-sized machines, artisan-sized machines, or by hand. In either case the process is about the same. The berries are soaked in warm water for a half hour. They are then put into a bowl (giant, large or small), and agitated in some way so as to break the outer skin of all the berries. A filter screen is put in place and water is passed through the berries repeatedly, flushing out the pulp. Hence, the pulp of aai always contains added water. Extra profit can be made by excessive diluting with water, and the typical supermarket frozen aai pulp is thin and weak. I buy mine at organic fairs or natural food markets.

The Quality Rating of Aai Pulp
Due to the above, aai pulp is rated, “fine” (thin), “medium” and “gross” (thick). Fine will have 5% to 9% aai and the rest is water. Medium will have 9% to 14% pulp and the rest is water. Thick will have more than 14% pulp content. It is hard to make aai pulp with a pulp content above 40%. You simply need lots of water to flush out the pulp. Thick aai is not available anywhere. Buyers here aren’t that savvy and the price would be shocking relative to the prices for fine and medium.

Aai Spoils Very, Very Fast
Due to it’s high oil and anti-oxidant content, both the aai berry itself and the pulp made from the berry, spoil very, very fast (though this doesn’t keep people from selling it and consuming spoiled aai). Once harvested, the berries must be de-pulped ideally within 24 hours and no longer than 48 hours. Once made, the pulp should be consumed within 24 hours or frozen immediately, or frozen with 24 hours of having been made.

Two Basic Ways to Eat Aai
Most everyone in south Brazil as well as all over the world thinks of aai as a dessert, or smoothie, or juice. Yet in the Amazon and the northeast, where it was first popularized, it is very rarely eaten sweet. In fact, it’s most common to be eaten on the day it was made fresh, without having ever been frozen.

In Brazil, all types of food fall into two basic categories- “Doe” and “Salgado”. “Doe” means “sweet”, and is anything from desserts to juices, to smoothies and more. “Salgado” translates to “salty”, but in this usage of the word it might be best to think of it as “not sweet”. This can cover bland, salty, sour, bitter and simply regular food. It’s a catch-all phrase in this context.

Aai Super Smoothies
For the purpose of this article we’ll focus on using aai to make smoothies. The two most common additional ingredients for aai smoothies are banana and guarana syrup. Guarana is a seed with an extremely sweet syrup that can be extracted. Also, the smoothie can be made extremely thick and served in a bowl with a spoon. This is actually more common than a smootie, and you’ll see it on menus as “tigela de aai”. Often, you’ll see the option to substitute strawberries for bananas.

What I’m talking about here are smoothies that you make yourself in your own home in a blender where you are free to experiment all you want. Because you are working with frozen pulp, and likely frozen bananas, the better the blender the better the experience. For example, I brought in a Blendtec blender from the U.S., the best blender on the market. I bought a 110v to 220v transformer so I can use it down here.

Extended List of Possible Aai Smoothie Ingredients
I’m going to end the article here with a great list of potential ingredients for your smoothies. It’s so very fun to experiment that I won’t try to give you measurements and ratios and such. Have fun experimenting. Know that the more of these ingredients you use in one smoothie, and I’ve done this, the heavier and denser the taste. If you want your smoothie to be light and fresh, try fewer ingredients.

  • Frozen aai pulp – One pack of 100gms, or 100ml, will due for one tall smoothie. Double it for twice the fun.
  • Frozen bananas – I use 2-4 small bananas. They don’t have to be frozen. I peel them first and then freeze them because I want them frozen.
  • Bee Pollen – This is my primary secret ingredient. Bee pollen is the single most nutritious and complete food source on the planet. The bee pollen I use comes from the rainforest and is extra nutritious. I use one tablespoon.
  • Honey – My preferred sweetener here is honey, because the honey here is amazing and honey is a superfood.
  • Guarana syrup – I’ve actually never used this at home, though for no particular reason.
  • Agave Nectar – Only this year did this sweetener become available where I live. Note also that you only need one of these three sweeteners.
  • Coconut water – You will need to add either water or coconut water, or both. This is how you’ll control thickness. Coconut water has a fairly neutral flavor and is very nutritious. It can be expensive, too.
  • Coconut Milk – This can make the smoothie extra creamy and will definitely add coconut flavor.
  • Raw coconut oil – Also very, very nutritious and has a strong flavor. One teaspoon is enough. It tends to solidify when combined with frozen ingredients, but the strong blenders will still mix it in completely.
  • Tahini – This is my other secret ingredient. I’ve come to love Tahini, which is a creamy spread made entirely from lightly roasted sesame seeds. It contributes a great flavor and lots of thickness. I use 1-3 tablespoons, though I don’t measure, I just pour it in.
  • Nuts and seeds – Raw nuts and seeds are very healthy and contain excellent fats and proteins. My favorites to add to this smoothie are cashew, almond and sunflower seeds. They are also great for thickening.
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon adds a great flavor. I buy it whole and ground it in a coffee grinder.
  • Nutmeg – Much like cinnamon. A little goes a long way.
  • Ground Seaweed – Seaweed is one of the most complete nutritious superfoods. I buy it dried and either ground it first in a coffee grinder or if it’s fairly ground already I put it straight into the Blendtec, which is very powerful. A teaspoon of powder is very nutritious and doesn’t alter the taste of the smoothie.
  • Fresh Arugula – Sounds crazy, I know, but fresh arugula leaves are extremely healthy and if you don’t go crazy with them, they don’t affect the taste. When you get used to them as I have, you’ll enjoy their subtle presence.
  • Whey protein powder – This is optional for those who are working out and taking whey protein as a supplement.
  • Raw eggs – This is another optional ingredient for those wanting added protein. Be careful to use only organic eggs from a known source. I get them from my own chickens.

The Taste is AMAZING!, and the Rush Even Better
My aai smoothies are the best tasting smoothies in the world (biased opinion). I’ve experimented with any and all combinations of the above, also altering quantities of each ingredient. Do what works best for you!

Joe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life!, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He is presently working on a near-coastal, countryside real estate subdivision project outside the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. He can be found at http://brazilforlife.com and reached by email at info@brazilforlife.com. His Youtube channel is called BrazilforLifeTV.

Previous articles by Joe:

How to Work and Support Yourself in Brazil