Monday, March 14, 2011

Legumes Estranhos: Brazil Continued

Oh my Godgee (a friend's "Brazilian" way of saying "Oh my God."). It's been almost a month since the last WV post. A lot has happened. Incredibly rapid people's revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, disturbing conflicts in Libya, protests against the shameless Republican assault on workers' rights and non-corporate governance in Wisconsin and Michigan. A natural disaster in Japan spilling over the global consciousness in a chaotic flotsam of photographs that I'm finding nearly impossible to process adequately. How does one maintain a sense of what has happened, is happening, with so much information hitting at once?

And I moved to Brazil for the rest of the year.

I am still eating mostly vegetables. Weird ones. Meat slips in from time to time if it's in tiny bits tucked into the black bean soup that I was craving at the neighborhood bar one night. Or if it sneaks into the juice bar breaded pastry I thought had only manioc and cheese.

There's no Trader Joe's here but one can still get lazyman pre-cut veggies very easily. I picked up the above sacks of squash and shredded carrot with beet from one of the little stands that materializes on street corners most evenings. I am currently in Rio de Janeiro, far from Ipanema and the beach where I lived in 2003 to 2004, this time closer to the decayed nineteenth-century glories of the old city, in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, which Lonely Planet likes to claim is a Brazilian Montmartre. Sure, there are puppeteers and painters out in the street sipping tiny cups of cold beer on Sunday nights, and it's up in the hills with breathtaking views over the city (panorama of Guanabara Bay, piled brick shacks of the hillside favelas in the near distance), but it's its own thing... I try not to stub my sandal feet on the cobblestones on my way home, up up up past ivy-covered walls topped with broken glass in lieu of barbed wire and neighbors peeping down on me from fluorescent-lit rooms.

I visited the Glória neighborhood farmers' market just down the hill this past Sunday and have heard tell of an organic farmers' market close by. There are also versions of CSA (community-supported agriculture) produce boxes to be had in my neighborhood. I am still orienting myself to the lay of the land, but the organic & permaculture bug seems to have bitten here too, in a land saturated with soy and corn monoculture.

I have nothing too alien to present you with today, but I was quite pleased with this watercress bunch (agrião) I found--watercress being a much more proletarian, sturdier vegetable here than it is in the U.S., where we tend to associate it with lace gloves, doilies, and tea sandwiches (by "we" I mean me). I was also equally, if not more, pleased by my clever tactic of poking a hole in the midpoint of the carrot-beet-shred bag in order to dig my greedy monkey fingers into a balanced mix of Tang and picked-scab colors:

Here is the rainbow coalition salad I made, "the best greens I've seen in Brazil so far," exclaimed a visiting New York poet and fellow misteriosa ethnic question mark, whose Transcendent Brow says:
                                                    "my crush is on
                                                    your rosemary potato
                                                    offerings of candlelit
                                                    vigils for my grandparents . . . "

and whose "conscience is a cherry plum tomato / Amish radishes . . . "

Meep mop! That's a shout out to my cat Osiris, whom me olde veggie companion Erin is sweetly tending back in San Francisco. Old timer readers of WV may recall my brief 2008 foray into Legumes Estranhos, when I was in Rio for a research trip. More investigations to come...


Ale Picoli said...

I live in Glória and I know that this market is the best in the neighbourhood. Next time, look for vinagreira (they sell just the leaves, but it´s the same sour hibiscus that is used for tea), and maybe joão-gomes (a small foliage with tiny yellow flowers). Have you tried all the cará, inhame, mandioca and other roots that shows up sometimes? They´re great too.

kale daikon said...

Ooh, thank you Senhora Picoli! I will look for all those things. Yes, I love all the types of root vegetables they have. It gets confusing separating inhame, mandioca, aipim, e tudo isso...