Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Brazil on Travel Channel

Samantha Brown, the host of "Passport to Europe", "Great Vacation Homes", and "Great Hotels", on Travel Channel, has a new series: "Passport to Latin America". What a life! Traveling to the most beautiful and interesting places on Earth, staying in the best hotels, eating delicious exotic food! She is a lucky girl! Well, she is more than lucky, she is really talented. I love her shows. She and her crew just won an Emmy for "Outstanding Lifestyle Directing" for "Passport to Europe".

"Passport to Latin America" will show Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, and Uruguay. Guess what will be on the screen tonight? My hometown, Sao Paulo! She will show that market I told you about in my first post here, the "Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo" and will eat that yummy bologna sandwich I drooled for while writing about it. So, don't miss it! Tonight at 8:00 PM. Check the schedule for other destinations. Rio de Janeiro will be on the screen on my birthday, July 4. What a present!!

Seu Jorge so close to me!!

Seu Jorge

Seu Jorge

[via FoxyTunes / Seu Jorge]

I am a fan of Seu Jorge. He has a wonderful deep voice that really touches my heart. And I like his lyrics too. First time I noticed him was in the movie "Cidade de Deus" (City of God), directed by the talented director Fernando Meirelles. In "Cidade de Deus", Seu Jorge was Mané Galinha (Knockout Ned), who had his girlfriend raped by the ultra-violent Zé Pequeno (Little Joe), who also massacred Mané Galinha's family. After the episodes, Mané Galinha begins a plan to destroy Zé Pequeno. Yeah, I know, too much violence. But if you have a strong stomach, I recommend the movie to see the social discrepancies that unfortunately we still witness in Brazil. Seu Jorge also had a participation in the movie "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", directed by Wes Anderson, with one of my favorite actors and actresses, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchet, respectively. In "The Life Aquatic", Seu Jorge plays some songs of David Bowie.

As Mané Galinha from Cidade de Deus, Seu Jorge also has a poor origin. But instead of moving into a violent path, he found strength in music to fight against violence and has succeeded. His interesting life history is shown in the documentary "Moro no Brasil", written and directed by Mika Kaurismäki. You should check this documentary out. It shows the great diversity of Brazilian music. Besides Seu Jorge, the documentary shows the "Velha Guarda da Mangueira", a group of older people from one of the most important and traditional groups of Carnival in Rio, and other people of significant importance to the Brazilian music in Pernambuco and Bahia, like Margareth Menezes. If you live in the US, Netflix has this documentary as well as "Cidade de Deus" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" to rent.

But I'm not here to talk about movies now. I'm here to tell you that Seu Jorge will perform really really close to my home. I can't wait to see him. And as a bonus, I will also listen to the Cape Verdean singer, Cesária Évora. Both will be performing this Friday, June 22, at Wolf Trap, Filene Center, in Vienna, VA, at 8:00 PM.

Cesaria Evora (iii)

Cesaria Evora (iii)

[via FoxyTunes / Cesária Évora]

If you live nearby, don't miss this concert! Two great voices singing in Portuguese! If you can't be there, enjoy this video with Seu Jorge and Ana Carolina, two beautiful deep voices together.


[via FoxyTunes / Seu Jorge]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beautiful voices!

Ivete Sangalo e Rosa Passos || Dunas

[via FoxyTunes / Rosa Passos]

I've just found this video in YouTube, with two beautiful voices from Bahia: Rosa Passos and Ivete Sangalo. And the song is gorgeous too! I hope you enjoy it!

And speaking of YouTube, there is a version in Portuguese now! Brazilians will have even more fun with the site now! The link for the Brazilian version is:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jorge Amado and the food from Bahia

Aí está o prato fino, requintado, da melhor cozinha. Quem o fizer pode gabar-se com razão de ser cozinheira de mão cheia. Mas, se não tiver competência, é melhor não se meter, nem todo mundo nasce artista do fogão. (Era o prato predileto do Vadinho. Nunca mais em minha mesa o servirei. Seus dentes mordiam o siri-mole, seus lábios amarelos do dendê. Ai, nunca mais seu lábios, sua língua, nunca mais sua ardida boca de cebola crua!).

This is an excerpt from the book "Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos" from the Brazilian author, Jorge Amado. For those who appreciate Brazilian culture, this is a must-read book. Jorge Amado was a great storyteller. As a typical baiano, he was sensual and romantic and filled his books with the main dishes of Bahia and other regions from the northeast of Brazil: acarajé, carne-seca, farinha, moqueca, bolo de aipim, pamonha, canjica, and many dishes with dende oil. According to his daughter, Paloma Jorge Amado Costa, when you read the books from Jorge Amado, you learn that food is not only essential to feed your body but also your soul. According to her, food gives you pleasure through your vision, taste, smell, and most of all, it is possible to dream about food.

The book tells the story of Dona Flor, the owner of a culinary school, married to Vadinho, a guy that drinks, cheats and gambles a lot. One day, he finds his destiny: death. Dona Flor marries a more respectable man but for her surprise, one year after Vadinho's death, he returns as a ghost to spice things up. Since Dona Flor owns a culinary school, you find in this book some recipes from Bahia. In the excerpt above, after giving a recipe of "moqueca de siri-mole" (soft shell crab moqueca), Dona Flor says it is a fancy dish and the ones that can make it can be proud of themselves. She also says it was Vadinho's favorite dish. In a very sensual way, she remembers how he appreciated her dish and complains about the fact she will never feel his mouth again.

If you want to know the secrets of Dona Flor's cuisine, what happens when Vadinho comes back to her life and how is the baiano's life style, order this book at Livraria Cultura. Don't be sad, if you cannot read in Portuguese and are curious about the story of Dona Flor and the two men of her life, you can find "Dona Flor and her two husbands" at Amazon.

While you don't have the book in your hands, what about making a "moqueca" with "farofa de dende"? I already posted my recipe of "moqueca" here. So now, get ready for this delicious Brazilian dish: "farofa de dende". Dende oil is a red palm tree oil that is not easy to find in regular supermarkets. But you can find it in some Latin stores, especially the Brazilian ones. You might find dende oil also in African stores but the African dende oil is much stronger than the Brazilian one. For those that are not used to dende oil, I recommend the Brazilian one.

Now that you know what dende oil means, check the recipe for farofa de dende!

Farofa de Dende
  • 1/4 cup dende oil
  • 2 cups manioc flour
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 15 dried shrimps
  • salt
How to prepare:
  1. Soak the dried shrimp in warm water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain and process in a blender or food processor until reduced to small pieces.
  2. Heat the dende oil in a large skillet over a medium heat.
  3. Sauté the onion until it is golden.
  4. Add the manioc flour and the shrimps, stirring with a wood spoon, to coat completely. Add salt, to taste.
  5. Sauté the farofa for 5 minutes until toasted, stirring constantly not to burn.
Tip: Dried shrimp can be found in Asian supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can make the farofa without it. It will still be a delicious side dish for moqueca and other fish and seafood dishes!

Bom apetite!

Book: Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Source:
Farofa de dendê - Picture taken by Cynthia Santos

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fish with farofa

Farofa is lightly toasted manioc flour. Brazilians eat farofa with "churrasco", fish and beans. Manioc is a root present in many dishes of the Brazilian cuisine. I am going to post some recipes with manioc in this blog. Keep checking for them!

For now, just enjoy this video of a very unusual and cute way to give a recipe: singing it! Rita Ribeiro, a Brazilian singer from the State of Maranhão, gives a recipe of fried fish with farofa.

After getting inspired, go find the manioc flour for the recipe of "farofa de dendê" that I will post here soon! You can find manioc flour in the Latin section of super markets or in specialized Latin/Brazilian stores. If there are no Latin stores nearby, you can certainly find it online. When you have your manioc flour, you can make the "farofa de dendê" to serve with the delicious moqueca I posted here! Yummy!

Hélio Oiticica in London

More than 150 works from Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) will be exhibited at Tate Modern, in London. The exhibition opens tomorrow and will last until September 23. So, if you are going to be in London during this time, don't miss one of the most innovative artists of his generation!

Hélio Oiticica is known from his work "Tropicália", which has inspired the cultural movement called "Tropicalism" that embraces music, plastic arts and cinema. His works have great affinity with modern artists such as Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian.

In the 60's Hélio Oiticica has created "Parangolé", a cape made of a colorful fabric that can have poems written on it or pictures. It can only be revealed through the gestures and movements of the person that wears it. Therefore, the spectator of this work becomes a participant and the "Parangolé" becomes a mobile sculpture!

If you are not in London and can't fly to see the exhibition, get inspired by Oiticica! Give a party where guests can only come if wearing their own "Parangolés"! And since samba was what inspired Oiticica to create the "Parangolé", don't forget to have a good collection of samba music so your guests can dance and show their art!


Grande Núcleo (Grand Nucleus) 1960-66, one of a series of dangling mazes through which visitors were meant to wander. (Source:
Singer and composer Caetano Veloso wearing one of Oiticica's capes in 1968

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A foreign eye on the Northeast coast of Brazil

If you happen to be in the DC area between June 8th-29th, 2007, don't miss the installation of photographic works by award-winning Washington DC-based artist, Anne Pellicciotto, who traveled and lived on the Northeast coast of Brazil for 8 months. There, she captured images of Saudade - reflections of her own longing and that of the people from the Northeast of Brazil, also known as "Nordestinos".

The exhibition will take place at BACI (Brazilian-American Cultural Institute), located at: 4719 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016. The opening reception will happen on Friday, June 8th, between 6:30-8:30 p.m, with live Brazilian music, performed by Gigi Rezende McLaughlin. You can check some of Anne's work on her site, Anne's eye.

Friday, June 1, 2007


The word "moqueca" originates from the Tupi word "moquém", which was a system used by the native Brazilians to cook potatoes and different kinds of meats, especially fish. They wrapped the fish in leaves, put it in a grid made of sticks and grilled it on fire. With time, people stopped grilling the fish on fire and started using the stove. Through the years, moqueca has received contributions from the Portuguese (olive oil) and Africans (dende oil and coconut milk) and has become a typical Brazilian dish.

Nowadays, we have many different kinds of moquecas, depending on the meat used: fish, oyster, crab, shrimp, lobster, ray, etc. The moqueca from Espírito Santo State, called "moqueca capixaba" is different from the moqueca from Bahia State, known as "moqueca baiana". While the latter has dende oil and coconut milk, the first lacks those ingredients and has urucum seeds instead.

I am going to give you here my recipe of "moqueca baiana" made with fish:

Moqueca de Peixe (Fish Moqueca)

  • 2 pounds fish (any white fleshed fish like red snapper, grouper or red fish)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small tomato roughly chopped, 2 medium tomatoes sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 bell peppers (1 green and 1 red) sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped, 1 large onion sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dende oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • pickled jalapeños thinly chopped, to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt

How to prepare:
  1. Cut the fish into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Combine 1 small tomato, 1 small onion, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor and process until pieces are very small. Mix it with juice of 1 lime.
  3. Cover both sides of the fish with this mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Use the half of the bell peppers, tomatoes and onions cut into round slices and half of the remaining cilantro to make layers on top of each other in a large saute pan.
  5. Cover those layers with the fish and the marinade.
  6. Make other layers with the remaining bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro to cover the fish. Add the jalapeños (I use 1 teaspoon for mild flavor).
  7. Drizzle everything with olive oil and dende oil. Add coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of salt, stir, cover with a lid and cook over low heat, until the flesh starts to flake, about 20 minutes.
Serve this dish with white rice and "farofa de dendê" - soon to be posted here.
Serves 4-6 people.

Moqueca, white rice and farofa de dendê - Picture taken by Cynthia Santos