Friday, March 26, 2010

SERIES: Cultural ambassadors: BRAZIL (Cross-culture email connection)

Next in our series is fancy Brazil. This should be interesting as we rarely hear anything about Brazil apart from football. That's why I'm very curious about my fellow swapper's portrait of his home country.

A little about Brazil
Well, i'm not used to eat breakfast. When i do, it´s chocolate milk. But when i eat a biiiig breakfast, it's bread, with butter or cream cheese, a juice, a piece of cake (corn or orange cake). Sometimes we have something that i call "cheese bread" (translating exactly as we say in portuguese), but is also known as "cheese roll", and it´s delicious. I included a recipe here, so everyone can try it. Is really common here, eveywhere you can find them frozen or just recently off the furnace.
Day at work
I´ll describe how my day was today, march 24. I went to work by car, my mom drove me because i´m getting my driver´s license just now. As i´m a journalist, i write at a local newspaper, and at the same place runs a tv channel (only cable, but still) and we try at most to do the same news for both. I got there and as i get 1pm, i have to listen to everything the other reporters already did and write it down. So, today we had a non-profit organization group called Amor-Exigente (Toughlove), with two interviews about their work in Teresópolis, where i live. Then, a community manifesto about the bad maintenance of a street, also with an interview.
I went to my lunch break and payed the first tax to get my driver´s license, R$174, about U$90.
Back at work, i started writing the texts. While at the Toughlove story, i had to stop and listen to another and more important interview about city´s health problems - really political and problematic story, but there we go.
In the meantime, some crazy old man showed up in the reception asking about an article that he insisted was not on the air or in the newspaper. Crazy because it was, two days ago, but he insisted that it wasn't and started yelling and stuff....Big mess. The reporter who was responsable for that article went downstairs to talk to him, and came back crying. With this situation, the guys went there and explained, for the 468768418th time, that it was broadcasted, and he "understood" and went away.
Then i was only writing, i also ate some cookies and laughed a little with my co-workers, but that was it.
By 6pm, my editor went to college - he´s into biology - and i finished the articles and waited for my boss - and the person who design the newspaper - to start mounting the first page.
As we had some difficult articles, i had to wait until one of the reporters finished it so we could send the first page to print. And by 7:30 i was getting a cab and going home.
- what a "SHORT" description, huh?

Day off
Here in Brazil we have  a loooooot of holidays, but since i started working at the newspaper (since july, 2009), i don't have much options than the weekends. When it´s a Friday, most likely i´ll have it as day off. But any other day, i´ll have to work...Carnival in Brazil means at least three days off - i had none and worked more than normal days.
In weekends, i like to stay at home watching tv series, sleeping and playing games. But i also go out, at night, to bars or to friend´s houses. Sundays means sleep and crafts day for me, but my boyfriend/fiancee/hub (well, nine years together!) doesn't get really excited when it comes to crafts, so...Sometimes i have to craft another day.

About Brazil
My country is in a really good position now. Except for the fact that it´s still considered "third world". From the outside, people get a totally wrong and different view of Brazil. No, we are not just forest, we do not live with monkeys, we have malls, cars, food...The metropolises are well developed, slightly different from NY or any other - so people say, i haven't been outside Brazil.
The current president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, is getting great publicity and the leaders are starting to trust Brazil and invest, believe and help. Brazil sent more money than most countries, getting close to USA help.
From the inside, we have lots of rotten situations, in politics and society. The police is, in most cases, corrupted and able to take bribes. This happens for cultural reasons, as we call "jeitinho brasileiro" - brazilian way of life. I had to study about brazilian culture in college, and i am pretty aware of this kind of behavior. A friend of mine was in Canada for Winter Olympics for OBS, and we were talking last weekend about the subway. In Vancouver, people only have to pay for a ticket and get in. Here, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to implement a system like that - because of this brazilian way of life: everyone would find a way to cheat. If you are a tourist, you must pay attention when you get a cab, cause even the taxi drivers take longer routes, charges way more, this kind of stuff.
Internally, Brazil is a good place to live, but you have to be at the "middle class". You have to get private health services, private schools. The public colleges are well seen but not really the better option. The public bus is not great either and, specially in Teresópolis, is way too expensive.
In politics, we´re in an election year. We will vote for president, senator, and something that we call "deputado", but i could't really find how to translate that. It´s a representative politic between state and federation, below senators. We have to vote for a federal and one for the state. It´s like this: city council (10 in Teresópolis) -> mayor -> deputado for the state (70) ->  governor -> federal deputado (513) -> senators (81) -> president. This way, you can understand what a mess this is: so many politics, so much MONEY they spent that i wonder if this is the case in any other country.
But in general Brazilians are ignorant. A big part of the whole population doesn't know why or how to vote, and sells it for food, cement, anything. Now this is starting to change - here in Teresópolis, the mayor won the election showing a big change in society´s perception. But it hardly happens in other small towns like mine, and...We keep placing these bad people who steal from the government.
Everyone wants to get a public position to work. The contests for a public position - from almost analphabet people to the most graduated ones - are really competitive, and the salaries are that great. The ones who have more money can study better, and these people are better prepared to get these jobs - and this circle goes on and on. I was thinking about having some tests, trying to get a public job, cause is really stable and pays well, but at the same time i dont think it´s truly fair.
I think it´s enough, i´m talking and talking and i guess it was not supposed to be that big!!!! xD

We only speak PORTUGUESE! Most movies that talks about Brazilians puts us talking spanish, but it's totally wrong - all the other countries from Latin America speak Spanish in other dialects. I don´t even know how to say "the book is on the table" in spanish. We do have some natives that keep their languages, but this population is really small.
What we do have is accents: each state has their own way to speak, and it´s really funny. From north to south, we have different slangs and words with different meanings - the portuguese is so rich that learning english gets easy!!

Well, the minorities here i could say it's the native people. But everyone around here is a victim. We have programs for womens, black people, yellow people, white people, blind people, deaf people...I think most of these groups puts themselves in such a victim situation that they become a minority, and it´s bad for everyone.
As we´re such a mixed up race, racial problems are really rare. My grand grand parents were native, portuguese, spanish, european...I have light skin, light brown hair and brown eyes. My boyfriend has the same history in family when it comes to ancients, and he looks much more like a mexican or bolivian person than me. We all look pretty different and all the same - and i think this is how we are supposed to be. No race, just human beings. I have cousins with curly hair, african hair, blond hair...Most people here are this mixed.
But, in the historical roots, the black people were sacrified and still lives in bad condition, as they were also slaves for a long time around here. A big part of slum's population are dark or black people, sadly, with a few natives. We also have a lot of migration, people of northern states coming to the south states like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and even lower states. These people are often discriminated.


The most known are Carnival, easter and christmas. In Carnival, we say that the year does´t start until this holiday. Big party, lot of glitter, party, music. I´m not really into it, i don't have patience anymore.
Easter is chocolate. At the Friday before Easter just fish - as a good and mostly christian country. At Easter Sunday, lots of chocolate! We have our easter eggs totally different: it´s chocolate egg, of all sizes and tastes. Really good, specially if you wanna get fatter!!!
National stuff

We have a looooooooot of national things that other countries does not. Fruits are the top one, but breads, sweets, even our barbecue is different! The "cheese bread" is an example, but we have A LOT more.
Guaraná, as an example, competes with COCA COLA over here. Is great, really delicious, and rare around the world. Sweets made with pumpkin, milk, coconut, jellies of all sorts...
Rice, beans, meat, french fries and fried egg is one of the most popular plate, but not that typical. In each state we have dishes. In Rio, gust (by google translator of "rabanada"), steak with garlic and lentil soup with sausage are the most common dishes- and delicious!
For products, i can´t really say, as i don´t have much idea of what´s available elsewhere and what´s not. As those huge multinational companies are here too, lots of what i might think is peculiar maybe is sold in any other country. But i surely know that Guaraná is not!! Lol.
Boys and girls

Well, men and women are no big difference here. We do have people of different religions - from jews to muslims going thru african traditions - but the role of each one is sustained as in United States or Europe.
Women have total freedom, and in Rio the feminist movement is really strong. No, no men in command or telling us what to do! Lol.
As i see, we´re almost equal, except by the fact that jobs use to pay better to men than women. It´s still a social discrimination, but we´re fighting against these situations.
Famous one

I think Gisele Bundchen is one of the most famous brazilian. Top model married to Tom Brady, and stuff...Lots of money.

Well, we have LOTS of crafts. Scrapbooking is not a regular thing, but knitting, crochetting, cross stitch and embroideries are easily found.

We are about 75% catholic. I don´t have a religion, but we have SO MANY options! Buddhism, jewish, catholic, spiritualism, and afro-descendent religions as Candomblé, Quimbanda, Umbanda, and others.
Pão de Queijo!
1 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
6 tablespoons plain yogurt, nonfat or regular
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Put tapioca starch in a metal bowl. Mix oil, water and salt in a pan. Bring to a boil. Pour the sputtering mixture onto the tapioca starch carefully to protect yourself from hot spatters. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Dough will be stiff. When cool enough to touch, add egg and mix well. Blend in yogurt. When well mixed, stir in cheese. Rub hands with oil and form batter into balls. Place on a greased baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake 25_30 minutes, or until done. The rolls puff up during baking, but become flattened when cool

I found a picture for the recipe, looks delicious, right?! 

Another thing that is probably not that commonly known. While Brazil's biggest city is Sao Paulo, the actual capital is Brasília.
I found a nice pic of Sao Paulo by an expat American:

If the post made you cuious about Brazil and you'd like to learn more be sure to check out this expat's blog. He has a lot of personal expertise and the intercultural background to be able to give outsiders a comprehensible image. Check his tags on the side for special themes such as the big cities, cost of living or politics.

When you hear a description about a different country that you don't know very well, you always connect it to your own experience from your home country or other countries you've visited. This way you create new representations in your brain by evaluating similarities and differences. Let me share a few of my thoughts and feel free to comment your own reactions in the comments. I shamefully have to admit I also thought Brazilians speak Spanish. Won't make that mistake again. Getting the driver's license, for example, seems to be cheaper in Brazil. I start getting the feeling it is cheaper and easier in any other country. In Germany it costs about 2000 Dollars and many many hours...
I also found interesting that German and Brazilian Easter customs are so much the same. We have chocolate eggs as well and there is Good Friday before Easter Sunday when people usually eat fish. See the power of the Christian religion. The situation about men and women is also pretty similar here. I think it is the same in many countries that have gone through a strong period of emancipation. Women have the same rights as men, can vote and choose any job they want but are still not paid the same as men and don't reach top positions as easily.

When researching Brazil I found another nice pic:
Does this look like Germany to you? It does, but it is Blumenau in Brazil, where there used to be strong German influence through immigrants. There were even German schools. After a nationalization campaign and WW2 that became less and less and today these villages speak Portugese as well.

Finally, here's another great reason to visit Brazil: The waterfalls at Iguazu, which are shared by Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Thanks to our fellow swapper for the great description. 
I hope you enjoyed this. Also check out the other entries if you haven't yet or leave comments below.

All umarked text in this post was supplied by a third party. The opinions expressed are not the same as those of the author of this blog. According to §§8 to 10 of the German Tele-Media Act, I am not obligated to monitor third party information provided or stored on my website. However, Ishall promptly remove any content upon becoming aware that it violates the law. My liability in such an instance shall commence at the time I become aware of the respective violation.


Simone said...

Great post. Love the photos and the recipe

Grooveycrafts said...


I agree the only thing I know or hear about Brazil is the football and the festival, thats it so it was great to read this :)

Agnetha said...

Nice to read, and to learn more about Brazil!! Didn't know so much before!

(Agnetha - SwapBot)

Fabi said...

Wow, the one pic really looks like Germany to me. Interesting to see that you can find that in Brasil. Wow...

Fabi (BubbLeGumGirLie for Comments on Craft/Design Blogs)

Hearthandmade said...

the cheese bread looks delicious! I never thought that about Brazil - the things she said.... not at all. My only worry about travelling to Brazil would be the Crime Level on tourists as i have heard its quite high. AND im from Ireland.. we are backwards about everything lol but i definitely didnt think half of the negative things listed above! That place really did remind me of germany, especially bavaria!
CDonovan - swapbot

Charlotte said...

@ hearthandmade:
Ireland is not backwards about everything. Things that are not related to religion are actually quite modern, I had the feeling. I lived in Cork for three months and it had one of the first city-wide wireless networks. And you're right, it looks bavarian. The north, where I'm from looks different. It could even be Austria.