Rachel is superwoman or "no babies were born during the making of this conference". I knew there was something good about my wife when I married her, but I had no idea about her special abilities to run a full-blown conference when 9 months pregnant. The Cultura Directors Conference which drew over 100 delegates from Brazil's four corners seems to have passed very well (save for the hired bus drivers bogging off just before delegates were to be taken to a Saturday night drinks do). My duties mainly involved baby-sitting Nelson and one or two of the other kids of the other delegates. I'm exhausted today but the one who really deserves a break is Rach. Next on the agenda for her: having a baby.
Things I miss about England #84: Custard. Especially when it's lavishly poured over a pub-menu sticky toffee pudding.
Things I love about Brazil #58: Puddings. There's an oft quoted maxim that says Brazilian go to restaurants for the desert trolley and not the main courses. That's because they have the sweetest of sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) in recorded history. A Brazilian recently asked me, "Dave, are you like me in that when you're eating your main course are you just thinking of the desert to come?". I replied: "No, when I'm eating desert, I normally wish I had had more main course".
The Brazilian deserts are an acquired taste - I would describe many of them as sickly sweet. Unlike British deserts which tend to be made out of pastry or eggs or flour, Brazilian puddings look and taste like a bowl of left-over icing or thick milky syrup. It's as if they've discovered that what people really like is licking the spoons that stirred the cookie mix and, so, geniuses that they are, they skipped the part where you have to cook anything and just put out the cookie mix to eat. Many popular puddings - such as doçe de leite (literally, "sweet of milk") or brigadeiro (pure chocolate balls) - are runny or pasty and extremely rich. The strangest one might have to be my wife's favourite, the local delicacy called cartola. Banana, cinnamon and melted cheese swimming in sugar served hot. Hmmmm, are you sure those combinations really work?
Anyway, Brazilians do not eat (and can't endure) spicy food at all - I think it's because all available taste buds have been harnassed into coping with the endless tide of sugar passing through their lug holes and over their tongues. But, like curry, it's possible to get accustomed to it, and after 18 months here I admit to being partial to the odd thing of three from the afters menu. And, due to the CDC conference with the all-inclusive hotel lunches, I've been making sure to visit the desert trolley to sample some of the delights on offer including passion fruit moose, cashew nut pies, cheese cake, chocolate cake, tapioca pudding or, my personal favourite, pudim de leite.
More extraordinary music. Did you listen to the songs on YouTube which I posted a few days ago? Well, I suggest you do (the first two are actually good) but no matter if you didn't, thanks to Felipe, one of my students who is a fan of forró music I was able to track down the clip I really wanted to post. I don't know why this makes me break out into fits of laughter. Maybe it's the cheesey and amateurish video which includes views of Recife's main tourist attractions, maybe it's the larger than life lead-singer with the flowing hair and the motorbike, maybe it's the way the "girl" reads the comic book on the sofa or maybe it's the butchering of the music to Robbie Williams' song Angels by the never-ending accordians and badly-played piano. Either way, it's a little window into what Brazilian chavs like to listen to. The outfit are called Desejo de menina (Desire of the girl) and the song is Minha alma gêmea é você (My soul is twinned with you). Click here and brace yourself to be impressed.