As we approach mid-March, the temperature is dropping slightly. Summer is ending, and today was the first day where I didn’t feel the need to wear shorts. Sure, I wore very thin, loose-fitting linen pants, but still! Pants!
I’m one step closer to completing my registration with the federal police, yay! Went to the “cartorio” (the notary) today and got notarized copies of all the pages in my passport. Yes, this is indeed something you must bring to the federal police to register as a foreigner. My appointment with the federal police is next week. Fingers crossed that the person I speak to is in a good mood…
Celebrated getting this errand done by trying some Brazilian mate (pronounced MAH-tchee). It’s a popular drink here, typically served cold like iced tea. Everyone I know here loves this shit.
The flavor of mate is kind of herbal-y and the sweetness is a little like molasses. I couldn’t take more than few sips before I felt kind of sick of it.
Then: BJJ class. Learned some weird sweep that starts when you’re in half guard, but you’ve passed. You somehow roll over your shoulders, flipping your opponent, and land in an omoplata. I don’t know.. I did, however, remember a few variations on how to maintain side control when I rolled with some white belts. My BJJ memory is slowly coming back to me..!
Dinner at Professor Sorj’s house was the highlight of my entire day. I biked from my place in Copacabana to her apartment in Leblon using the public bike system. Man that thing is JANKY. I couldn’t remove any of the first 5 bikes that I tried. Then someone just happened to be returning their bike, so I tried using theirs, and it worked. My bike ride took about 20 minutes. With the humidity here, I was drenched in my own sweat as well as in the air sweat within a few minutes.
For dinner, her “empregada” (which literally means “employed,” and refers to her maid/cleaning lady/cook) made us a traditional Brazilian dish: “escondidinho de carne seca” (escondidinho is pronounced ess-cohn-jee-JEEN-yoo). This translates to “the little hidden thing with dried meat.” It’s basically a savory pie made of “mandioca” (aka cassava root, aka yuca) with a little bit of cheese in it, and with a hidden filling of shredded roasted pork in the middle. It’s fucking DELICIOUS. I couldn’t stop eating it.
Unlike a lot of the food that I’ve had at food-by-pound and luncheonettes here, nothing was too salty or too dry. The escondidinho was savory and subtle, and not too heavy. The salad with balsamic dressing provided a satisfying balance. All in all, the best meal I’ve had in Brazil yet! Homemade food wins.
Then came dessert which was a passionfruit mousse with caramelized bananas as a topping, and a side of orange bread. A bit sweet for my taste, and I was already so full from the escondidinho.
Dinner conversation was great. Professor Sorj had invited two of her other Sociology/Anthropology graduate students to dinner, and the entire conversation was in Portuguese. Much to my surprise I was able to understand about 80% of everything said. Things that I didn’t understand were either cultural references I had never encountered before or advanced vocabulary.
Part of our conversation turned to the recent ridiculousness with the newly appointed Director of Human Rights in Brazil’s House of Representatives, former congressman Jair Bolsonaro. See separate blog post about him here.
I was originally intending to take a public bike home, but by the time we left Professor Sorj’s house, it was past 11pm. The public bikes here, I discovered, can only be rented between 6am and 10pm each day. So, instead, I decided to jog/walk along the boardwalk. It’s about 3.4 miles between her house in Leblon and mine in Copacabana. Along the way, I got to see the beach at night. It’s still very lively, even at midnight!