Friday, August 29, 2008

How We Became Brazilian

In mid-August, our area holds an Ethnic Enrichment Festival. As we are Euromutts around our household, we can’t really claim any nationality than that big melting pot of “American.” Thus, we were honored when our Brazilian friends offered us a shot at being “honorary Brazilians.”

As far as I can tell, being Brazilian means chopping lots of tomatoes, onions and parsley for vinaigrette to accompany the churrascaria, or grilled meat. It meant long lines of people waiting to be served a plate of collard greens, rice and the national dish of Brazil, feijoada, which we had helped prepare the week before. Feijoada is a black bean and meat stew, historically a “food of the people” making use of such meats as hocks, pig ears even and trimmings. We used ham ham hocks, pork loin and sausage, however. This is definitely a recipe I will try and recreate on the site soon.

Even our child got into the act by helping stamp passports and even appearing in Brazilian dress in a parade and fashion show. We were all pretty tired at the end of the weekend, it’s not easy serving 100-200 people a day with a small crew.

We did take a break from the cooking to watch the Brazilian dance and martial arts team perform. The collective moves, called capoeira, are a unique choreography somewhere between jiu jitsu, acrobatics and break dancing set to the rhythm of drums and singing.

In all, 39 countries were represented. It was an amazing feeling to look out over the crowd and see faces of all kinds, equally represented, together, all in celebration of our diversity. It was exactly the kind of event you want to share with your child, even if you have to be adopted into a new culture to experience it!

Over the course of the festival, we became good friends with our neighbors, Scotland and India. The heavenly smell of curry filled my days, while the comfort of our Scottish friends’ “all grassfed, natural” beef was on the other side. I had no worries about what to eat, even venturing out for Peruvian ceviche, Indonesian coconut milk and other delicacies.

As the event came to a close, we found ourselves sharing food with our neighbors, promising to request booths next to each other the following year, and trading emails. It was sad to pack up and leave.

They say when a child is born, she is a child of the world. Any language spoken, any culture surrounding her becomes hers. What a gift if would be if we could all remain that open, to always be a child of the world, embracing one another’s differences and celebrating as one.


Anonymous said...

I've been lurking for awhile, and I just wanted to tell you that was a lovely post. I wish everyone would remain a "child of the world". I think it would solve a lot of our problems.


marcos said...

Great post; very interesting hearing your perspective on Brazilian culture.

Here's my family's version of feijoada, if you want to compare it to your friends'. I also omit the ears, snouts, and feet as most of my friends would balk.

I just made a batch for 50 of my closest friends. You may want to 1/2 or 1/4 or 1/8 it for more reasonable portions :)