Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Long overdue! Churrascaria/Lanchonete/Por kilo (the food post)

Since it's been so long since I've written here (sorry!) I picked a random topic to begin with. The churrascaria. In a nutshell it is an all you can eat meat buffet (steak, sausage, chicken, pork, turkey, roast beef) accompanied by a buffet of salads, pasta, veggies, fruits, and in the case of Carretão, sushi too. Could eating out get any better than this? Nope. It was Ramin´s last weekend in Rio so on Friday at school we all decided to meet up at Carretão. It's a very nice restaurant, white table cloths and real napkins (this is a nice change of pace from the lanchonete napkins of thin plastic which I will describe in a bit). Everyone pays R$35 for the basic buffet setup and drinks and desserts are extra. We walk past the buffet to our table and see they´ve set out various types of pasta dishes, vegetable and fruit salads. Once we sit down we get small plates of bread, french fries and onion rings as well as a red/green card per person. The red side has Não Obrigado (No thank you) written on it and the green had Sim (Yes) written on it and the idea was you turned it to whichever side expressed your desire for more meat.

And then it began. A never ending parade of waiters carrying various types of carne. Some had sizzling plates of steaks, but most had a large metal spear with a giant chunk of meat on it that they would plop on your plate. They would then whip out their handy knife to slice off as much as you wanted. It was wonderful. The waiters were even nice enough to pose for a picture since I had hijacked Sarah´s camera (will get the pics when she posts them). After eating far too much we all had to sit for a bit and let our food settle before we waddled out of the restaurant.
Aand now after writing that I'm hungry...

After mentioning our trip to a churrascaria to our professor at school she informed us that chances were the restaurant was owned by someone from the Sul do Brasil. Southerners are known as gauchos and stereotyped as being unable to live without churrrasco (meat cooked on a spit) or a type of strong tea. That day we also learned about some of the stereotypes brasileiros have about each other. The carioca (someone from the city of Rio de Janeiro, as opposed to fluminese who is someone from the state of Rio de Janeiro) is supposed to be fun loving and lazy, only wanting to go to the beach. The paulista (from São Paulo, Brasil's commerce capital) is a workaholic who only cares about money and doesn't know how to have fun. The mineiro (from Minas Gerais) is stingy and hardly ever says what is on their mind. Of course these are just stereotypes since for example, our professor Cristiane, who is a carioca, doesn´t really care for the beach or samba that much.

Coming back to the rare cloth napkins I mentioned earlier and the topic of the lanchonete. The lanchonete is basically a snack place that specializes in a few types of salgados (which literally means salty things but in general is just fried snacks) but that also serves 75 million types of juice, from the mundane strawberry and orange to exotic fruit only found in Brazil like graviola and fruta de conde. Typical salgado varieties include a baked hot dog in a croissant, a pastry dough filled with cheese, a pastry with cheese and ham, and a few types of chicken pastries. Once upon inquiring about the tipos de salgados a small lanchonete had I was informed that they had frango, presunto com queijo, queijo, frango, e frango (as you remember frango is chicken). I chuckled at the ever present frango and ordered the presunto (ham). Salgados are around R$3 and a perfect quick snack. At most lanchonetes people just stand for the few minutes it takes them to eat their salgados and drink their suco (juice) but there are usually tables and chairs too. So far in terms of exotic Amazonian fruits I have tried and liked fruta de conde and graviola although I've made a list of other fruits I need to try and will hopefully be crossing those off soon. In Rio you are guaranteed to have at least 2 lanchonetes per block anywhere in the city. They stay open late and open early so the carioca is never without a salgado and suco. It is impossible to be hungry for long with at least R$3 in your pocket because you are constantly surrounded by cheap lanchonetes and popcorn, churro, boiled corn, and toasted peanut carts. (The picture of Big Nectar, a popular lanchonete chain, is from here)

Continuing on the subject of food, I don't know if I've mentioned how many por kilo restaurants there are in Rio. If there are 2 lanchonetes per block there is at least one por kilo restaurant per block. The fancier the por kilo place, the more expensive it is por kilo but you can get a decent amount of food for R$10. Upon entering a por kilo restaurant you get a ticket and after you get your food your plate is weighed and the price calculated, which then ends up as a sticker on your ticket. Then you sit down and a waiter comes by to take your drink order and mark your ticket as per your order. At the end of your meal you take your ticket to the cashier and they calculate your bill. Losing your ticket means paying upwards of R$50 so it's best to keep track of the little slip of paper. There has been talk of attempting to load up a plate with more than R$50 of food and then purposefully losing one's ticket but no one has attempted it yet.

Cute video of a good song we listened to in class.
Brazilian reggae I'm listening to right now. Natiruts is pronounced "Na - chee - hoots" and reggae is "heggae" since sometimes (not always) the 'r' is transformed into an 'h' sound in Brazilian Portuguese. Also rock = "hocky" and hip-hop is "hippy hoppy".

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