Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Salgadinhos!

Since I am in Brazil and the title of this blog is Brasilian Wax, I figure I might as well spend a bit of time writing about, ya know, Brazilian stuff. Or wax. I'm gonna stay away from the wax. So today's entry is going to focus on salgadinhos. I am no salgadinho expert -- but I can tell you that they are delicious. What are salgadinhos, you are probably asking yourself, possibly already slavering at the thought of something delicious. Well, my hungry friend, they are little bits of fried Brazilian goodness, usually in the form of a ball of dough stuffed with something equally/more fattening, then "lightly" fried to a texture ranging somewhere between Moist Doughiness and Crispy Doughiness. For a picture of some of the many varities of salgadinhos, see picture 2 mm. below:

Mmm.. look good, don't they?

So what brought me onto this topic? Possibly the fact that I just scarfed about 17 assorted salgadinhos at the Clifford Chance monthly birthday roundup. Every month we have a party for everyone whose birthday happens to fall in that month, with gooey cake, salgadinhos galore, pop, and sometimes even sandwiches with toothpicks in them. This month I skipped the cake and went for the salgadinhos, some of which were stuffed with another ubiqutious Brazilian food, bacalhau --DRIED COD FISH. Heavens to Betsy, I love me some dried cod fish. Actually, bacalhau is one of those things that sounds, I dunno, repulsive until you actually eat it. Sort of like yams.

Brazilians have a million uses for bacalhau -- you never know when it's gonna pop up in something you're eating! Pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salgadinhos, you just never know! It adds a little excitement to the dining experience. Italians are big on bacalhau, too, as I know from my own dad's family's fixation with bacala (sp?), which is Italian for dried cod fish. Mmm... cod fish.

Well, that's about it for my Brazlian gastronomic culture lesson today. I am including a link for recipes (in POrtuguese) for salgadinhos, which I am sure will be extremely useful to no one, but it has pictures:

http://www.terra.com.br/culinaria/especiais/salgadinhos/

Monday, January 30, 2006

Weekend at Bernie's

So I have had this sudden blogging inspiration, like I should be doing it more often. Oddly I have felt the urge to blog at the same time that I decided to re-begin weight training at the gym. I think the two are related -- blogging is a form of Self Expression, while weight lifting is a form of Self Torture, so both revolve around The Self (me), which make them both deep, psychically-nourishing activities. Logic!

Since I haven't yet channeled my sudden burst of inspiration into a specific topic or format, I will do the easy (lazy) thing and write about my weekend. So. Here goes.

Friday, after a long and tedious day at work, I went home, made myself some soup, then gussied myself up in my white silk blouse (the one with black lace), jeans, and tall shoes, and went to meet my friend Dougal for drinks. We ended up in Vila Madalena, at a darling restaurant called Virô Bistrô. http://www.gastronomos.com.br/virobistro/home.php

We told the waiters we would not be dining, just having drinks, and they seemed reluctantly okay with it. There were only 2 other tables filled in the restaurant, so I figured they had to be a bit flexible. I really couldn't figure out why the place was so empty at 10 on a Friday, it was adorable and in a pretty happening location. I ordered a bottle of wine (anticipating the arrival of friend Nicola) and the waiter looked slightly horrified when Dougal said that he would not be having any -- I thought, that's right, garcom, that bottle of sauvignon blanc is alllllll for me. Don't bother with the glass, I'll just pour it right into my mouth, here, here, let me uncork that, I carry my own opener. I think everyone was relieved when Nicola showed up in 10 minutes or so and shared the wine with me. After Virô, we went to a nearby club called Grazie a Dio!, also in Vila Madalena. http://www.grazieadio.com.br/bar.htm

The occasion was a birthday party for a trainee who works at the same firm as N and D, which was sort of awkward, since Nicola is not friends with any of the Brazilian trainees at her work (since they work on a different floor of the building), Dougal feels weird around them because he had some romantic intrigue with one of the girls that didn't go anywhere, and I don't even work there, but good fun was had by all. I had a vodka and coca light and forced my friends up onto the stage to dance. Dancing got old at around 3, when we looked around the club to see it populated almost exclusively by creepy old dudes with sideburns and drunk girls, so I hopped in a cab back to Moema and collapsed into bed.

Next day, I decided that Today would be The Day for restarting weights at Reebok. I had stopped weight lifting in October out of mild dislike of my trainer and supreme discomfort with doing leg-lifts. I don't know what it is about leg lifts, but they make me really uneasy, especially when you consider that I am one of the only girls at Academia Reebok who wears shorts to the gym. You do the math. Anyway, I bit the bullet and asked a female trainer to help me restart my regimen, and she was super nice and handed me off to a super nice male trainer, Fernando, who re-showed me the ropes. Sadly, he included leg lifts in the mix, but all in all, good workout, good fun. I came home and spent the rest of the day feeling proud of myself for lifting, watching the rain fall outside my window, and looking at the InStyle magazines my mom brought me when she visited.

I got antsy later that evening and decided to take myself to the cinema -- I wanted to see Rumor Has It, because I think Mark Ruffalo is dreamy, but it was sold out, so I had to settle for the Family Stone. I wasn't expecting to like it all that much, but it was actually -- dare I say it -- heartwarming. Well, sort of heart warming. It solidifed my dislike of Diane Keaton and re-inforced my long-time adoration of Luke Wilson, so at least I got something out of the experience. Love ya Luke!

Sunday was boring. But boring in a good way. And here it is, Monday, and I am back at trabalho, sigh.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On blogging, kissing butt, and self-censorship

Every day I read this blog by Stephanie Klein (http://stephanieklein.blogs.com/greek_tragedy/) because I read about it in the New York Times one day and, even though I find some of her posts a bit psycho-babbly, I do enjoy her witticisms and descriptions of decadent food. Anyway, it probably would have never occurred to me independently to read someone else's blog, because even though this is 2006 and some people get their NEWS exclusively from blogs written by guys who live in their parents' basements, reading other people's online thoughts/diary entries/ramblings/recommendations still feels weirdly self-indulgent. No, not even self-indulgent, it's more like, OTHER-indulgent, as if by reading Stephanie Klein's posts about her "relationship issues" I am somehow validating her airing her dirty laundry for all to see, and sort of admitting that I am intrigued by someone's else's life -- someone whom I don't even know. Not that she knows I am reading it, I never post on her comment board or anything, but it still feels weird.

What I find even more arresting/dismaying than bloggers, however, are these people who follow blogs like my dad follows Penn State football -- posting on bulletin boards, checking and re-checking for new posts, instigating disussion and debate with fellow ravenous blog-stalkers, and so on. At least my dad can bet on football -- one of the many joys of living in Nevada -- but what do these weirdos who post religiously on Stephanie Klein's comment board get out of it? Are they are genuinely THAT interested in the goings-on of a stranger's life? Do they just have a lot of free time? Why do they argue over whether Stephanie is right or wrong in her analysis on some aspect of her own life?

What drives me especially nuts on Stephanie's comment board are the people (almost all female) who kiss her butt after every single borderline-treacly post about love, her boyfriend, feeling fat, her Issues, etc. ("Steph, you go girl!!" "Steph, don't let anyone tell you you're not amazing!" "Steph, you AMAZE me with your DEEPNESS!!! Love ya!!!!!" "Steph, you're incredible, girl! Loved the part about finding peace with your tumultuous childhood! It's like you GET me!")... I mean, yikes. My problem here is not with Stephanie Klein's posts -- after all, it's her blog, she can write whatever the heck she wants, and I forgive her the occasional foray into melodrama/sentimentality/cliché because I generally enjoy her writing --- what bothers me is the butt-kissers. Can't say why, exactly, except I get the feeling that these ladies like to sing Stephanie's praises to her because they think she is going to be famous and they like to feel like they know her somehow, like they share so much in common with her and that she, in turn, knows them. Is that cynical of me? Probably.

Anyway, as I post this, I realize that maybe 2 people read my blog, one of whom is probably me, the other of whom is probably my cousin. And that is a generous estimate. So this entire exercise in blogging is sort of, well, really self-indulgent, isn't it? And I'm not even a GOOD blogger. All I do is cut and paste emails that I write home onto a website once a month or so. That's not blogging, that's lazy. I am not committed enough to keep potential blog-stalkers sated, they would go hungry waiting for me to toss them little morsels to read. I give total props to committed bloggers who have a loyal fan base -- it means that whatever they are writing is interesting enough to people -- many of whom don't even know them -- to read and think about. I wonder if anyone ever reads my blog. I wonder if I'd read it if I weren't me. I'd be like, "ho hum, some chick in Brazil, been there, booo-ring. Back to reading celebrity gossip on MSN (http://entertainment.msn.com/gossip)

The reason I decided to start a blog in the first place was because I thought it might be interesting to chronicle what I did in Brazil, just so -- if nothing else -- I could look back it later and remember the "good times," or the "tempos bons" as we Portuglish speakers would say. I used to be a fanatical journal-keeper, a habit which I wisely curtailed when I got to college, and now is too hard to start up again. I have this beautiful beaded journal that my friends gave me for my 22nd birthday -- it's the kind of book that I feel obligated to use a nice pen to write in -- but I have only written in it a few times. It's easier for me to write long emails -- I can be wittier in emails because I feel a bit of a need to impress my readers, and no need to include the gory and self-incriminating details of my escapades. There are certain things that are better left unsaid -- and I self-censor even in my own journals. My mom always said, "never write anything down that you wouldn't want everyone to see," or something to that effect. It's true. If nothing else, I say, invest in a black marker to redact your own journal entries, just like the US government does!

One question before I put this post to rest -- does anyone read this?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Non-clever title: a list of things I have done recently

Since my days in Brazil are dwindling, I decided to try to chronicle some of the stuff I have done lately, just because. List/bullet format!@!! I love lists.

  • Café Journal -- Moema -- man, I love Moema. This bar had a swanky atmosphere and fabulous wine list. We had Argentine malbec, I forget which one. It was goooood.
  • Armazén Paulista -- another great Moema bar with palm trees and a lovely patio. Perfect place to go on a warm night for a drink.
  • El Patio -- speaking of patios... nice Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant. We ordered tapas, and wine (Chilean cabernet), claro.
  • Santa Helena -- new bar/espetinho place next to the complete Scene that is Vila Isabel. Dougal and I went after work and weren't gente-bonita-ish enough to command a table at Isabel, so we trudged next door to Santa Helena. The concept is great -- waiters walk around with various espetos (skewers) of meat, seafood, chicken, veggies, garlic bread, cheese, etc., and then you just grab what you want off the trays, and they mark it on your card. They also circulate with trays of chopp (draft beer), of course, so it all works out very well.
  • Edificio Italia -- seriously never gets velho. I have been 4 times now and the view from the bar on the 42nd floor never fails to impress me. It is so nuts how the city seems to go on forever, in every direction -- you don't really understand the BIGNESS of SP until you get up there and see the sprawl. From that vantage, São Paulo looks ugly, crammed together, industrial, crumbling, and terribly exciting. Only downside -- paying $10US for bottled water at the bar.
  • Mercado Municipal -- I went back with Dougal the other weekend -- giant piles of mangoes, whole pigs strung up by their noses, vendors selling plastic bags of multi-colored, unidentifiable spices, and crates of the sort of bizarre, tentacled fruit you can only find south of the Equator... Afterwards, we got a little turned around trying to find the nearest metro station and ended up in this area of downtown where they sell Carnaval costumes. It was quite the scene -- axé music blasting in the street, people scrambling everywhere with big plastic shopping bags, screeching vendors selling almonds, fruit, and ice cream, and me and Dougal, two gringoes lost in the milieu. Fun!
  • KiaOra -- definitely one of my favorite bars in the city, cheezy as it may be. Never have had a bad time there, AND they play the Killers.
  • Veridiana -- new pizza place in Jardins. http://www.veridiana.com.br/ Went on Friday with Toby, Nicola, Dougal, Maia and Keith. We had pizza, some very nice antipasti and a lovely bottle of Chilean malbec, but the service was shit on a stick. Our waiter was this ornery old man who walked away from the table after taking 2 orders (there were 6 of us), and then acted quite put off when the rest of us politely requested to order when he came back. Then he poured wine for the men, ignoring the ladies (even though Nicola and I had ordered the bottle and two of the guys didn't even want any) and he tried to clear our plates while they were still half full. Other than that, though, great service.
  • Pool lounging -- after a night of KiaOra madness (followed by a half dose of The Notebook), we met up on Sunday at Dougal's pool to soak up the sun. Nicola had brought a bathing suit for me to borrow, but she is impossibly small and the suit did not fit, so I had to wear this giant white tee-shirt and a skirt to the pool. I felt like a piece of tender Brazilian beef roasting in the churrasco pit. It was like 37 degrees C (98 degrees F, I checked the conversion) and I think we were all starting to hallucinate a bit, so we went for sushi after a few hours of pooling.
  • Sacolão de Sushi -- this place in Vila Madalena is incredibly popular -- it's a sushi rodizio (all you can eat) plus veggie stand plus juice bar plus fish market. The tables are all covered in plastic sheeting and half the guests have to sit on little plastic patio stools, and it was sort of a chaotic atmosphere, but the sushi was great.

Guess that is about all for now. I am trying to make the most of my remaining 2 months (exactly 2 months today, actually) in SP. There are so many things I want to do here -- many of them involving food and drink -- so I am stepping up my socialization/outing schedule. It's sort of a throwback to the days when Matthew and Vicky were here and we used to go out during the week/have adventures on the weekend as a matter of course.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Feliz Ano Novo and stuuuufff

It's a new year! I can't believe I already have to put down the first payment on that washer-dryer combo I bought at Sears in 1999... time really does fly.

Hope all of your (non-specified religious) holiday celebrations were wonderful and joyous and that you didn't wake up wrapped around a toilet on Jan 1! I know I sure didn't!!!

Since SOOO much time has elapsed since I last wrote you all an email, I guess I'll just have to summarize what has been going on down here quite briefly. First of all, my parents came to visit, which was spectacular (hi Ma and Dad!). I got to show them around the crusty underbelly of São Paulo -- actually just the crusty upperbelly to be honest -- and we also took a few days and went to Rio, which was soooooo nice. We stayed in the kind of hotel that provides robes and slippers and free drinks at the rooftop bar. Sooo lovely.

It wouldn't have been a real vacation without me burning myself to a crisp in odd, almost impossible patterns all over my body. Right now, for example, my left hand is sort of a skin pastiche of golden bronze mixed with white streaks that appear to be finger marks, as well as a bright pink burned patch, which is starting to peel. I look like Lindsay Lohan with leprosy.

Anyway, the vacay was great and I was sad to see the 'rents go. They left on New Years eve day, and I hopped on a bus to go back to Rio for New Years. In Rio, I met up with my friend Nicola and her husband Gabriel -- she is British and he is Brazilian, she is 25 and he is 22, she says tomah-to and he says tomate, which is Portuguese for tomato... I stayed with them in their apartment in Barra (new area of Rio that is basically all gated communities and malls), and we went to a party at the Museo de Arte Moderna (see pic below for exterior view), which I will get to in a minute.

So the custom in Brazil is for everyone to wear white head to toe on New Years eve. It has to do with the Afro-Brazilian diety Yemaja who I think is in charge of the sea, and her color is white, or something. I didn't bother to do thorough research on this -- I instead spent December 30 scouring the mall for non-hideous white clothes. You'd be surprised how hard it is to put together a cute white outfit. I was shooting for an outfit falling somewhere between white-vinyl-slut-suit and bridal gown. It all worked out -- I'll spare you the details, but I did pretty well, thanks to my mom's keen shopping eye. Love ya, Ma!

I got to Nicola's around 5 and we got ready at her house, which was fun. We then drove into Leblon (ritzy neighborhood of Rio) to Gabriel's friend's building to pick up our tickets. All of his friends are these wealthy Brazilian Jews whose parents are diamond merchants and jewelers (seriously -- diamond merchants), so his friend, not surprisingly, lived in an absolutely beautiful building. After that, we went to the museum for the party...it was gorgeous all around. Gente bonita like whoa, of course, plus an awesome set-up -- half the party area was outside looking out towards Copacabana beach so we could see the (largest in the world) fireworks show at midnight (see pic above). Awesome. The party was a bit short on food -- it was mainly teeny weeny crab sandwiches and weird crackers -- but it was high on alcohol, so it was a happy night for all involved. I will leave it at that.

After such a fun new years, it was really hard to drag my butt back into work on Tuesday. Plus, after having such a fab break with my family, I really started to realize how much work sucks and how badly I miss my friends and family (you know who you are!!!)... Oh, side note -- for those of you who I hadn't talked to in the past 3 weeks, you may not know that I worked two 6O + hour weeks right before Christmas, helping out with this STUPID thermal power plant deal (Petrobras bought ANOTHER thermal power plant -- come on). It was awful and horrible and several days I left the office when the birds were starting to chirp (3 am). Also, on more than one occasion, I teared up drafting emails at midnight and once I got so frustrated with it all, I threw a pen across my office. Actually, no, I slammed it against my desk until it broke, then I threw it. Yeah.

ANYWAY, after I returned from my break I decided to send in my 2 months notice to my supervisor. My new last day of work will be March 15, the day my cousin Amanda arrives in SP to visit me for a week. After hanging out with her in SP for a week (which will be doubly fantastic without work hanging over my head), I am going to travel around Brazil for a month or so, go to Buenos Aires, then to Santiago for a few days to visit a minha familia chilena... so, long story short, I will be back in San Francisco on April 28 and will be there probably until I have to go to Boston to start law skewl in August. So, yay, I am going to be back in the States! And I hope to see as many of you crazy doodles on the west coast as I can before beginning Harvard.