World Car Free Day is quite devoid of any meaning here in Brazil. That doesn’t mean we can’t take the opportunity to reflect on a truly worrying fact of life in Brazil. A recent article at the Thrill of Brazil blog reflected on something that will be familiar to anyone who’s spent any time in Brazil during the last few years: monster traffic jams, once a São Paulo trademark, are becoming an unstoppable reality of life in other large Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro or Salvador.
Go read the article: São Paulo’s World Famous Traffic Jams Starting to Spread throughout Brazil. Salvador de Bahia-based Michael Sommers is the writer of the excellent Moon Guide to Brazil and the Moon Guide to Rio. And one of the most knowledgeable travel writers on Brazil you are likely to come across.
Brasil, Brasil is a superb 3-hour program produced by the BBC containing a comprehensive review of Brazilian music. Here’s the link to the BBC’s website with all the data on the documentary series: Brasil, Brasil. If you search on YouTube you will find the entire documentary divided into multiple chunks to allow for easier visualization.
Soccer has previously featured on the Brazil Travel blog. We visited landmarks such as the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro and the Museu do Futebol (football/soccer museum) and the Morumbi stadium (São Paulo FC) in São Paulo.
A superb alternative to attending a soccer game is to listen to a game on the radio. For those with hardly any grasp of Portuguese, ten minutes of a live transmission should suffice. While TV broadcasts tend to be bland and boring, radio sports commentators deliver their narrative on a unique and hair-raising fashion. Do listen to the following recording and let me know if you agree.
Those with a grasp of Spanish should learn before they arrive in Brazil that the ubiquitous pastel is a false cognate and does not mean cake or pie like the Spanish term does. Rather, a pastel (its full form is pastel de feira) is a small pasty, made of puff pastry, rectangular in shape and fried. It can contain a wide range of fillings: cheese, tomato, meat, cod, mushrooms, chicken and so on.
The ancestor of the pastel is the Chinese spring roll. It arrived in Brazil with the Japanese immigrants escaping from the Second World War. As at that time being Japanese wasn’t hold in high regard, some of the Japanese tried to pass as Chinese to avoid the discrimination their country fellow men were being victim of. And they begin cooking Japanese food with a Chinese touch.
The pastel is strongly associated with São Paulo and it is an incredibly popular snack you will find in most open-air markets (the feiras, hence the name pastel de feira). The traditional thing to do is to eat your pastel washed down with a caldo de cana – sugarcane juice.