I’ve been thinking a lot about the things you can’t say. I mean the things which are socially improper. The blurting out BULLSHIT. It’s like my ears have perked up to all kinds of talk about food, and there is an immense amount of food-bashing. It’s getting to be a bit trite, that’s all. Whole grain, natural, organic, local, gluten-free, tasteless, sugarless, fat-free, low-fat, soy substitute. I am not anti-health. Everybody should eat more vegetables than carbs, shop locally and leave the world in decent shape.
But at some point it’s just…information overload, nutritional over-saturation–I do not want to be told what or how to eat anymore.
(Of course here I am trying to make a case on how else you should eat…) It’s just that food is so personal. It’s like religion or politics. Not dinner party conversation. I’m just saying, you might offend someone. I’m starting to get offended!!! Even though I personally seek vegan options at cafes. It’s like–leave me this, this one thing, that has to carry the whole weight of my identity sometimes. You know, food is culture. And living in a different country takes a real beating.
A common occurrence for the expatriated individual: to find yourself at a party, drinking wine and laughing. Until the general conversation takes that serious tone where people are discussing how absurd health care is, or public education in Canada, or how Toronto transportation sucks, between its offerings of 8-minute intervalled streetcars, buses AND subway lines.
You go silent.
You simply cannot agree with any of the aforementioned complaints of this culture because you did not grow up in it. They still feel incongruent, dissonant (not unimportant, just…different).
Imagine you decide to agree, spew out the new cultural script you’ve heard over the last 6 years…what then? You’d think about it all night in bed. Impostor. Impostor. Impostor.
Which is to say, your values regarding food and diet are great, for you, for here. Some days I’m totally over them. It’s all an assault on what I believe my own Brazilian relationship with food is: a forgiving and loving one. I love food. I love all the bad bits of food, and won’t single any of them out. They are all children in the eyes of Brazilians, and God. The fat, the sugar, the salt. Do you know we love salt? A Canadian will have a heart attack just watching me salt my food.
You kind of just strike a deal with food, I guess. Life is too short to demonize, worry, restrain. But you gotta pay for your sins the next day. Go for a walk, hold back and eat more veggies for a few days, take the stairs.
I’ve cast my vote on the whole food thing and I’d like to enjoy it without the politics. Please. Just…once in a while.
One last thing I shouldn’t say. I grew up with a maid, a fact I feel sometimes the need to justify or explain. No qualms about it now, almost everyone has a maid down there. No connotations of servitude, got it? I never lounged ringing a bell as someone scurried to tend to my requests. Maids are–besides cleaning ladies, cooks, laundresses–a huge part of our families, full of meaningful contributions to our lives. At my house there were a few after school snacks courtesy of our maid. Fresh squeezed lemonade always relinquishing our sweaty, heated, school thirst. And as a treat, once in a while, a cake spread on a big pan, cut into thin crispy squares. The most common ones were orange or lemon cake, but Brazilian carrot cake is a classic. It embodies our values perfectly; the batter is a phosphorescent orange smoothie thick with 4 whole carrots, and atop it (I suppose this is optional if you want to go easy during the week) a reduced sludge of milk chocolate sauce. A yin and yang. A perfect balance.
4 peeled, chopped carrots
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
(BLEND first 4 ingredients then incorporate flour)
Bake at 350 degrees.
10 tablespoons of cocoa powder or hot chocolate mix
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons of butter