Entries by gringadmin

Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

MaggiaParra250

March 5, 2016

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Maggie Parra. Read on as Maggie tells us about her impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

I am from So Paulo. I have worked as a bilingual executive secretary for 38 years working mainly with expatriates. I have also a degree in Psychology.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

Number 1 always – the language. The huge amount of red tape also may pose a frustrating experience for most foreigners.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

Some do not try to research about the culture of the country they are going to live in, which may prove to be annoying for them when living here. Another issue is to believe in what friends say about the country without checking the story. Once I had to drag an English gentleman, who lost his wallet, to a police station to file a report. He was freaking out since his best friend told him he might be be arrested (since his work permit was being processed), and also that the police are totally corrupt and he could be fined for no reason… LOL. Eventually, he understood my arguments and he finally had his "B.O" in hands to get new documents i.e. temporary foreigners ID card, drivers license, etc.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

British and Asians are very formal. On the other hand, French, Dutch, Italians are the least formal and mostly with a great sense of humor.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

Since Ive lived in the US, I prefer the American one.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Barbados. It’s a beautiful tiny island with marvelous beaches hwith awesome sunsets. The locals are extremely welcoming and helpful. It’s also a place where you can mingle with a great variety of nationalities.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Mexican and Italian.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Band = Rolling Stones & Alan Parsons Project. Book = Conversations with Morrie. Movie = City of Joy.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

Dating a Brazilian is like driving a new car for the first time – it is hard to find the right buttons (ha, ha). There are exceptions, of course! The foreigner, on the other hand, usually is more attentive and more respectful, he tries to understand our culture and adapt to it and does not take the relationship for granted.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or culture shock that you have experienced with a foreigner?

When working at a British company, there was a scheduled visit of the British Consul and his aides, which demanded a lot of planning for the meeting arrangements. Everything was completed to the tiniest detail. When introducing him to the employees, I was the last one. When I was greeting him as formally as the situation demanded, my boss "poked" me and said rudely "Come on, give him your hand!". I was shocked at first and tried to sheepishly smile when shaking the visitor’s hand. Later on, an Irish manager, who noticed how bad I felt tried to explain the boss "culture" and the "why" he acted like that. I managed to say thanks and left. Honestly, it is not fun to be treated like a second class citizen…

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

Learn a bit of Portuguese, although everybody in Brazil say they speak English, when looking for directions you will see that it is isn’t exactly true. Bear in mind that punctuality is not the best Brazilian distinguished quality, so do not get upset when a meeting, dinner party do not start at the set time. Go with the flow and enjoy it.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@gringoes.com

, ,

Brazil: Good Luck in the Year of the Monkey!

PFChangs302b

By Marilyn Diggs
March 5, 2016

In February, while revelers in Brazil delighted in carnival delirium, the Chinese had their own celebrating to do. This year the Chinese New Year arrived on February 8th. The very day samba schools were shimmering down Av. Marques de Sapuca in Rio, the Chinese were welcoming in the Year of the Monkey with firecrackers, drums, red lanterns and of course, dragons on parade. Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, New Years Day can fall any time between January 21st and February 20th. Also known as the Spring Festival, it is the most important traditional celebration of the year.

A Festival for Family, Food and Fun
The two main reasons for the festival are to wish for a lucky and prosperous upcoming year, and also to commemorate accomplishments, rest up and relax with family. Besides wearing new clothes, decorating with red and shooting off fireworks, one of the main traditional ways to bring in the New Year is eating a "reunion dinner" with family. This smacks of our Thanksgiving meal, where family members try their best to reunite and savor the feast together.

P.F. Changs, the internationally-renowned Asian cuisine restaurant, is the official sponsor of events that focus on the Chinese New Year in Brazil. If you missed the dancing dragon and drums in its front entrance, dont fret. Until April 8th you can partake of P.F. Changs special Chinese New Years Menu, consisting of eight recipes to bring you luck in 2016.

FlamingGarlicBeef302

Spicy Firecracker Chicken symbolizes firecrackers used in a ritual to scare away evil spirits and open the door to fortune. Crab Wontons are in the shape of ancient coins and symbolize prosperity and a new start. They are served with chives for protection, and plum sauce for long life, youth and beauty. Continue with seafood, which brings abundance and prosperity. Since shrimp brings happiness Ma La Shrimp is a perfect choice. The Apple Crunch dessert helps new opportunities arrive to you. Just decide what you desire and choose the delectable dish symbolizing your wish for vitality, protection, communication skills, spiritual cleaning, happiness, good health, mind expansion, love, harmony, power, long life or even an aphrodisiac. Choosing the dish is half the fun and you cant go wrong because they are all winners.

If you still want more, request a red piece of paper (representing fire), then write your wish with black ink (representing water) and tie it onto the "Tree of Wishes" (a.k.a. decorative room partitions inside the restaurant). At the end of the Year of the Monkey, P.F. Changs will host a ceremony in which a Buddhist monk will bless the notes before burning them so they can be received by the universe and granted.

The Chinese New Year is a Season of Superstitions – Taboos
These measures will be especially helpful for those who were born in former Years of the Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, etc.), washed your hair on Feb. 8th, and/or cleaned your house on Feb. 8th and 9th. It also goes for those who before Feb. 15th did not pray in a temple, asked for a loan, allowed your child to cry, did not have a girl/boyfriend and/or did not wear red underwear. It certainly makes the American tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day for good luck, seem trivial, doesnt it?

These dishes and wishes activity will be available at the four restaurants located in Rio de Janeiro and So Paulo state: Av. Juscelino Kubitschek, 627 in Vila Nova Conceio, S.P. city; Alphaville and Campinas. Until April 8.

Further information: www.pfchangs.com.br

Marilyn Diggs is an American living in Brazil for over twenty-five years. She is a freelance writer, artist, lecturer and author of nine books – two about Brazilian art history. As an art reporter and travel writer she has written for the Miami Herald and Museum International (a UNESCO publication) as well as newspapers and inflight magazines. Marilyn has a degree in Latin American Studies and is often contracted by intercultural training services to give talks on expat challenges. www.mdiggs.com

The Gringoes Guide to Brazilian Folklore and Myths (Part 1)

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
March 5, 2016

Brazil is a country with a very rich folklore. Originally inhabited by hunter-gatherer tribes, the national mythology and folklore is still imbued with tales that have been passed down generation after generation from ancient times. When settlers came, the tales and myths of Europeans and Africans mingled with the native mythology to create a unique folklore that is ingrained in the culture of Brazil. As an introduction to Brazilian folklore, we have prepared this guide.

Saci Perer: Probably the most recognizable Brazilian myth, the Saci Perer has been depicted in countless movies, cartoons, comics and other forms of media. The Saci even has a national day, which is the 31st October. No one knows exactly the origins of the myth, but experts believe that it originated from the indigenous people of the south of the country, migrating later to the north. In the north, the myth of Saci was strongly shaped by African influences. Nowadays, he is depicted as a one-legged black boy that wears a red cap and is always smoking a pipe. According to legend, he rides around on dust devils and enjoys playing tricks such as letting animals loose, misplacing things and tying knots in manes and hairs. Supposedly, an offering of cachaa or tobacco pipe can stop his antics. Despite his liking for pranks, he is also said to be a connoisseur of forest herbs, and in some places it is said that one should ask the Saci for permission before collecting herbs. Folks also say that if the Saci decides to chase you, you can escape by crossing a stream, as water makes him lose his power.

Curupira: Another staple of Brazilian folklore, the Curupira is a mythical creature with European and West African influences. According to the legend, the Curupira is a red-haired dwarf with his feet turned backwards that inhabits the forests of Brazil. In most versions of the myth, he rides around on a pig and makes a high-pitched whistling sound, which can drive his victims to madness. He is said to be a guardian of the forest, preying on hunters that take more than what they need. He confuses his victims by placing traps and confusing them by leaving tracks with his backwards feet. Legend goes that if being chased by a Curupira, one should leave a tied knot in a vine, which will distract him. In some places, hunters asked the Curupira for permission before going out hunting.

Boto Cor-de-rosa: The Boto Cor-de rosa is a cetacean found in the Amazon river and known in english as the Amazon river dolphin. According to the folklore of the North of Brazil, the Boto has the power of transforming himself into an attractive human male. Legend says he joins the "Festa Junina" (June parties) disguised as a human male wearing a hat to hide the hole on top of his head. In this form, he is said to seduce and make love to women, disappearing into the waters when morning comes. This is why in some parts of Brazil people will call a child with no father a "child of the boto".

An Introduction to Brazilian Folk Sayings

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
March 5, 2016

Every country has its own sayings, which pass down from generation from generation. You never know where they come from, but you are always familiar with the ones from your country. Sayings say a lot about the culture from where they originate, and from the mindset of its inhabitants. Below, we have compiled and explained some traditional Brazilian sayings you might hear over here. They may not be unique to Brazil, but might have a Brazilian twist.

De cavalo dado no se olha os dentes (you don’t look at the teeth of a horse that is given to you): One of the most common Brazilian sayings, this one is about gratitude. You might hear someone reprimanding a person who complained about a present with this saying, or someone might say it in a resigned tone after receiving a bad present. In Brazil, gift giving is part of the local culture. Complaining about a gift however, is perceived as a rude behavior.

Ladro endinheirado no more enforcado (A rich thief is never hanged): Sadly, this one says a lot about Brazil. It is a criticism of the privileges and differentiated treatment that those with money receive here. All one needs to do to understand it is look at the news here, where rich people constantly get away with serious crimes while those less fortunate crowd our prisons.

Seja dono da sua boca para no ser escravo das suas palavras (Be the owner of your mouth so you don’t become the slave of your words): Those who don’t watch what they say might become compromised by what comes out of their mouths. This is a warning against those that fall prey to their own words.

<strong>Quando a cabea no pensa o corpo padece</strong> (When the head doesn’t think, the body withers): A warning against intellectual stagnation, which can be the cause of mental and physical decay.

Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga (God helps those who wake up early): Another very common saying, it is a praise of hard work and diligence.

A palavra de prata, o silencio de ouro (Words are made of silver, silence is made of gold): Words have their worth but not as much as silence, at least according to this saying.

A duvida o travesseiro do sabio (Doubt is the wise man’s pillow): A call for questioning things like the wise do.

A ocasio faz o ladro (The occasion makes the thief): According to this saying one does not do bad things because he was born bad, but because the circumstances have pushed him towards doing these things.

aguas passadas no movem moinhos (Waters from the past move no windmills): What is gone is gone, and cannot do anything for you anymore. This is all there is to it.

De grão em grão a galinha enche o papo (Grain by grain, the chicken fills its stomach):Little by little, one can accomplish great things. This is what is being expressed in these words.

dando que se recebe (It is by giving that you receive): A call against stinginess and for generosity.

Na pratica, a teoria outra (In practice, the theory is another): As this saying cleverly expresses, things may work in a different way than we think that they do.

Quem no tem co caa com gato (Those who don’t have a dog hunt with a cat): If you don’t have what you need to accomplish something, you can improvise and use something else.

Rico bebe para comemorar, o pobre para no chorar (The rich one drinks to celebrate, while the poor drinks so he doesn’t cry): In a country with such high inequality, the poor have it hard while the rich have it too easy. This situation finds expression in many sayings such as this one.

You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com

12 Tips For Enjoying Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
February 6, 2016

So you have finally decided to go the legendary Carnival party in Rio and see what the hype is all about. I guarantee you will soon get caught up in the spirit of Carnival and fall in love with Brazil. But before you go, there are a few things you should be aware of. With this is mind, we have compiled some tips so you can enjoy the party to the fullest.

1. Learn some basic words and expressions in Portuguese. As most Brazilians don’t speak English, this will help you a lot with your communication. Also, Brazilians really appreciate when foreigners attempt to speak Portuguese, no matter how badly they do it.

2. Buy your flight in advance. There will be many tourists coming from all over the world to Rio, which causes flights to fill and prices to increase.

3. Book your hostel/hotel in advance as well, as it becomes harder and harder to find accommodation as the Carnival approaches.

4. If you want to watch Carnival, go to the Sambadrome. If you want to be in the thick of the action, take the party to the streets and keep an eye out for the “blocos”, which are foot parades where people dance through the streets to the beat played by a samba band on top of a truck.

5. If you go to the Sambadrome to watch the parade, the best views are from the ground level seats, the terrace seats, and the “camarote” if you are willing to pay a higher price.

6. Watch out for your safety. Don’t wear expensive jewelry and keep an eye out for pickpockets. It is also a good idea to wear a money belt or to keep some emergency money in your underwear or bra. If you are bringing a camera, keep it out of sight. Be aware of where you are going as well, as some areas are extremely unsafe for tourists. Also, avoid getting blackout drunk, as that will make you an easy target.

7. If you are a man looking to hook up with local girls, be respectful in your approach. There is a difference between being direct and being forceful, and you should not cross that line.

8. Banks close during Carnival, and cash machines often run dry. To avoid running out of money, keep a stash in the place where you are staying.

9. If you are hungry, “por kilo” restaurants are a good choice. In these restaurants, you fill up your plate from a buffet and pay according to the weight of your food. These places are cheap and the food is usually tasty.

10. If you are partying in the streets, keep your mobile phone and other electronics inside a plastic bag. Trucks will often spray water into partygoers to offer some relief from the heat.

11. Don’t forget to exchange your money. Although some shops and vendors accept dollars and euros for their products, they will charge you much more than if you use reais.

12. Prepare yourself for high temperatures and lots of sun. Bring sunscreen and don’t forget to drink water, especially if you are plan to drink alcohol.

You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com.

5 Brazilian Dishes You Should Try

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
February 6, 2016

Brazilian cuisine is extremely rich and diverse, being influenced by Portuguese colonizers, African slaves, Brazilian natives and immigrants from all over the world. Below, we have compiled a list of some of the best dishes the country has to offer.

1. Feijoadafeijoada
One of the most traditional Brazilian dishes, feijoada is a stew of black beans, beef and pork that is as delicious as it is caloric. Depending on where you eat feijoada, different parts of the pork are used. One can find feijoadas with pork ribs, ears, tails, sausages and much more. Some common additional ingredients are rice, farofa, oranges and kale, but one can find an enormous variety of ingredients in feijoadas from different places. This tasty stew is not only simple to make but also makes for a true feast. For those that enjoy a hearty meal and are not worried about the calories, I would recommend jumping at the opportunity to try feijoada.

2. Farofa
Another staple from Brazilian culinary, farofa is a mixture of toasted cassava flour that is eaten through all the country. By itself, it doesn’t have much to offer, but it can be fried with many different ingredients. It also goes extremely well with rice and beans, which are the essential Brazilian foods. Some common ingredients to be cooked with farofa are sausages, eggs, bacon, onions and olives. Some also like to put in ingredients such as chopped bananas, raisins or nuts, but the farofa offers limitless possibilities of mixtures. Whether you are eating a feijoada, a fish fillet or a Brazilian-style barbecue, farofa has a lot of flavor to bring to the table.

Moqueca

3. Moqueca One of the most traditional dishes in the northeast of Brazil, moqueca is a seafood stew to make any mouth water. Usually served in a clay pot, moqueca is a mixture of seafood, diced tomatoes, onions and coriander. In the state of Bahia, it is usually cooked with palm oil, peppers and coconut milk. For the complete experience, moqueca should be eaten with rice, farofa and piro, a spicy mixture of manioc flour and fish. If you are a seafood lover that is willing to experiment with new flavors, then moqueca is definitely for you.

4. Arroz carreteiro (Wagoner’s Rice)
In the south of Brazil, a “carreteiro” was someone who transported goods across the country. This dish was created by these travelers using ingredients that could be preserved without refrigeration, so as to provide a tasty and nutritious food that can be prepared during their journeys. It is consists of a mixture of rice, beef jerky and onions, with some other vegetables or spices being used sometimes as well. This tasty dish quickly spread through the rest of Brazil, and is now enjoyed through all the country. While it is quite good on its own, the arroz carreteiro is at its best when served as a side dish, offering a delicious alternative for the plain rice that is usually served in Brazil.

5. Virado a Paulista While the state of So Paulo is not well known for its culinary, it is the home of this deliciousness known as the Virado a Paulista. Traditionally, this dish was made from a mix of food leftovers. Nowadays, the virado is a full plate that mixes rice, cooked beans, kale, cassava flour, sausages, pork chops and eggs sometimes. This combination is a force to be reckoned, and should leave anyone satisfied. In the city of So Paulo, it is usually served on Mondays at a fair price in restaurants and bars through the city.

,

Paragliding With Basir Up in the AIR

By Laura Ferreira
January 11, 2016

On the western end of the beach city of Santos, there is a hill that rises sharply, one hundred and eighty one meters above the sea. A paved but neglected road winds up the hill, through a small favela, ending abruptly at what is arguably the most gratifying vista for miles around. There – surrounded by views of white sand beaches and high rises – is a small restaurant, a flight center, and a grass field used for takeoff by paragliding and hang gliding pilots.

That is where I met with Prem Basir and Maria A. Petit, the international paragliding experts behind Basir Up in the AIR. We had all left So Paulo early that morning and made the hour and a half drive to Santos with hope that it would be a good day for flying. When we convened at the top of Morro do Itarar, the sky was clear with gentle tufts of clouds, and a soft wind was beginning to pick up. I had never paraglided before, but the day seemed too perfect not to amount to something.

Prem Basir and Maria explained to me that we would need to wait for the wind to pick up to ensure a longer flight, but that it did, indeed, look like a good day for flying. They suggested that we have a coconut water and chat at the restaurant next to the field while we waited for the perfect wind.

While we took in the view and had our drinks, Basir told me his history with Paragliding. He began paragliding years ago with a tandem flight and lessons at a site called Fuyang in China. His first experience was very positive. Basirs piqued interest led him to continue training on the Wasserkuppe – the birthplace for various types of flying (located in Germany). He then spent four years working for Papillon – the largest paragliding school in the world, and moved on to instruct and conduct guided paragliding trips across Europe and Latin America. Basir explained that he is a DHV certified paragliding instructor and tandem pilot.

All this information worked to calm my first-time nerves. Maria – who met Basir in Brazil, and spent time paragliding with him in Europe as well as Brazil – helped Basir to explain the physics of paragliding to me. They talked me through the weather conditions that create an enjoyable and lengthy flight, and the basics of preparation, flight, and landing. By the time the windsock was full, coming from the right direction, I felt confident and excited for the flight.

We walked to the flight club and registered, and Maria walked me through the process of checking equipment and practicing for our takeoff while Basir got set up. In just a few minutes, I was hooked to Basir, Basir was hooked to our parachute, and we were ready to run. The takeoff was an adrenaline rush, but so momentary that it didnt define the experience. It was being in the air that left a lasting impression.

We soared on thermal air pockets, high and low, back and forth. It was serene and beautiful – something you can only have an inkling of in a small plane. Birds glided past on the same wind that we used – giving me the impression that we were part of their private club. Moreover, there were many other paragliders around us, snapping selfies and waving to each other as they passed – engaging in a culture that is friendly and thrilling – cultivated through brief shared moments, high over the beaches and hills of Santos.

Basir encouraged me to loosen my white-knuckle grasp on my harness and enjoy the flight, and after a few minutes, I was taking photos of the city and sea, and marveling at the feeling of quietly floating through the air. After we had seen the sights, and I felt I hadnt missed a thing, we headed down towards the beach. Basir pointed out the landing field and asked me to identify the windsock and the direction of the wind. For the final act, we passed over the ocean, and turned to fly along the line of buildings on the beach. Basir explained landing one more time, and we came down towards the field. In a split second, we touched the ground – smoothly and relatively gracefully.

I highly recommend the experience of paragliding. Particularly to those who, like me, want to enthusiastically explore, but arent interested in adrenaline overload. It is an unexpected experience that will push you just far enough out of your comfort zone that you gain new knowledge and incredible perspective without feeling over the proverbial edge. And, if youre in or headed to Brazil, Basir Up in the AIR is exactly who you should look up to get you started.

A video of Laura landing at Basir Up in the Air’s Facebook page.

Basir Up in the Air’s website: www.basirair.com

Personal Documents in Brazil: The Basics

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
January 9, 2016

PersonalDocuments250

If you are a foreigner that wants to live in Brazil, you should know a few things in advance. One of these things is what sort of documents you will need in order to live, work and drive here and how to get these documents. The first document you will need is the CPF, which stands for "cadastro de pessoa fsica". This document is a tax identification number linked to the Federal Revenue of Brazil. This CPF is needed to purchase many goods and services such as a car, a health insurance plan and a house. This document can be obtained through a Brazilian embassy or consulate, or from the Brazilian Receita Federal, which is the local Tax Authority. Getting it through a diplomatic mission requires more work, costs more and takes weeks before you get your number, so doing it through the Receita Federal is recommended.

Another essential document is the CIE (Cdula de Identidade de Estrangeiro). This is a card that contains your RNE (Registro Nacional de Estrangeiro), which is your proof of ID in Brazil that is the equivalent of the Brazilian ID card, the RG (Registro Geral). Important note: this first requires you have an appropriate visa e.g. permanent. In some places you can also use your passport as an ID, but there will be many situations where your RNE number will be needed such as when opening a bank account, buying a car or getting a mobile phone plan. To get this document, you need to fill a form and apply for it at the <a href="http://www.dpf.gov.br/">Federal Police website</a> within 30 days of arriving in the country. It is important to be aware that although some bank workers will tell you that they only accept an RG number they are wrong, as the RNE number can be used as a substitute for the RG in any occasion according to Brazilian law.

You should also have a proof of residence, which may be required when doing things such as getting a job or an internet plan. There are several documents that can serve as a proof of residence, and different institutions might ask for different documents as proof. Some of the documents that are most commonly accepted are condominium bills, electricity bills, bank statements, lease agreements and traffic fines. If you dont have any of these documents in your name, you need to present them along with a document that proves your relationship with the homeowner.

If you want to work here, you also need to get a CTPS (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdncia Social). This document will give you access to labor rights and record information about your employers, jobs and wages. The CTPS for foreigners is issued at the Regional Offices of Labor and employment, and requires you to present a series of documents. The only different between the CTPS for Brazilians and for foreigners is the color of the cover, which is blue for locals and green for foreigners.

As for driving, you will need a CNH (Carteira Nacional de Habilitao), which is the Brazilian drivers licence. If you have a license from the United States, European Union, Australia or South Africa, you can exchange it without having to take a driving test. In order to do this, you need to find an official translator, submit your license to them and wait for it to be returned. If you dont have a license from these regions, you need to contact DETRAN (Departamento Estadual de Trnsito) and go through the process of acquiring your license, which includes a psychological test, classes and a test in driving theory, and practical classes with a final practical test.

Of course, other documents might come handy, but with the ones listed above you should have no problem living in Brazil. We will cover in more detail how to get the aforementioned documents in other articles. As for your stay in Brazil, we hope you enjoy it!

Come Taste the Wonders of Mineira Cuisine

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
January 9, 2016

Minas Gerais is a state in the southeast of Brazil marked by rolling hills, mountains and a sky that is said by some to be the bluest in the country. Minas has played an important part in the history of Brazil, playing a role akin to the Wild West in the United States when gold was discovered in the depths of its mountains. Nowadays, the gold is all but gone, and all of the misery and riches it has brought has gone with it, with the exception of the gold-adorned churches of Ouro Preto. But the inflow of people that occurred in these times has not only made it the second most populous state in the country, but also one of the most culturally rich states. Among these riches, is a culinary tradition amazing in its diversity and richness of flavors.

In Brazil, the cuisine from Minas is known as the epitome of home-cooked food, and some even go as far as calling it “the soul of Brazilian cuisine”. From the Portuguese colonizers, it has inherited elaborate pastries and thick broths and stews. From indigenous culture, it inherited the use of many local spices and plants such as manioc. And from the African culture that came to Brazil with the slaves it took its ingenuity and capacity to create and adapt recipes with whatever resources available. The trademark of mineira cuisine is the wooden stove and the assortment of rustic pans and pots made of clay or stone. Whether in Minas or not, any mineiro restaurant that prizes itself still used this setup.

One of the things that is most notable in mineira cuisine is the abundance of thick broths and stews. These usually have a lot of meat, specially chicken and pork meat, and are as caloric as they are delicious. It also uses a lot of native vegetables and roots, such as kale, cassava, and okra. Two staple dishes of Minas are the Feijo Tropeiro and Tutu de Feijo, which are broths elaborated from cassava flour, beans and a mix of other ingredients. Pork is used with no restraints in Minas, and can be found prepared in a variety of ways. There are pork stews, broths, roasted pork and fried pork. One of the most popular pork recipes from Minas is the torresmo, an appetizer that is made from fried pork skin and fat.

Minas is also notorious for its variety of cheeses, which are very popular through Brazil. Its staple cheese is known through the country as “queijo mineiro” (Minas cheese), which is a whitish cheese with a soft texture that is often served as a dessert together with goiabada, a guava-based candy. From Minas also comes the “po de queijo” (cheese bread), a cheese flavored roll that might be the most recognizable Brazilian snack.

To top it all, Minas is known for its cachaa, a distilled spirit made from sugar cane that is known outside of Brazil for its use in preparing caipirinhas, a notorious Brazilian fruit cocktail. Although cachaa is popular through the whole country, the cachaa from Minas is reputed to be the best. It also goes down very well with the mineiro dishes, especially the heavy pork-based ones. If you are a fan of eating and drinking well, you shouldnt miss the opportunity to try some authentic mineira cuisine washed down for some cahaa. But be warned: if you are wary of caloric meals, this experience might not be for you.

Applying for a Brazilian Tourist Visa

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
December 12, 2015

Important Note: Although this information should be correct at the time of publishing, you should always check immigration information with your local Brazilian consulate.

After all you heard about Brazil you have decided it is finally time to pay a visit and enjoy what the country has to offer. But before you get onto the plane and set out for Brazil you should check whether you need a tourist visa. Some countries are exempt, as per this list at Wikipedia, based on recopricity. If your country is not exempt the process for tourist visa application is quite straightforward, and involves applying at your local Brazilian consulate with all the required documents and sending a filled internet application.

The first and most important document you need to bring is your passport, which shouldn’t be torn or significantly damaged. Remember that it needs to be valid for the next six months, and it should have at least two blank visa pages for the stamp. You should also bring a 5 X 5 cm photo of yourself taken within the last three months and printed in high quality paper. The photo must display a full frontal view of your face. Your expression must be neutral, and glasses and headgear aren’t allowed, except for religious purposes. Also, the photo should not be affixed to your application, and it shouldn’t have evidence that it was taped or glued anywhere. Another document that is required is your driver’s ID if you have one, so don’t forget to bring it!

Next, you should fill and print the online visa application, which can be found in the following address: scedv.serpro.gov.br. The page that will open will be in Portuguese, but you can choose a language of your liking by clicking on one of the flags on the left side of the screen. When filling out the application, you should fill all fields in it. Remember to write your full name exactly like it is in your passport. Towards the end of the process, you will be given a code number, which you should include as well. After you are done with the application, you should sign it and send it to the Brazilian consulate within 30 days.

When going to the consulate, you will be require to present a proof of your travel arrangements for the full trip. These arrangements must include a copy of an itinerary or an e-ticket with your entry and exit dates and location. If you are bringing any minors, some additional documents need to be brought for their application. These include an attached minor authorization form, a letter of consent from both parents or legal guardian, a birth certificate and a copy of both parent’s photo IDs. If that minor has a guardian, a legal proof of guardianship is required as well. All of these extra documents needed by minors have to be notarized.

After you have sent the application and gathered the necessary documents, all you need to do is go to the consulate and apply for your visa. After going through the process, you have to leave your passport at the consulate, and after a few weeks it will be returned to you with your tourist visa. Once it gets back, you are all set to visit Brazil and enjoy your stay over here.