Different types of music are specific to each region in Brazil. In the south, it’s samba, in Bahia, its axe (pro. AH-shay) , a type of Afro-Brazilian music, and here in the northeast, its forró (pro. foh-HO). Forró music is fast-paced, kind of folksy, has a strong beat, and makes you want to dance! It uses a lot of different instruments, but the drums are apparently the most important. There are all of these bars/restaurants here where forró music is played by a live band and people go to dance. Last Saturday night I went out with some friends and other exchange students to one of these bars. We had to search for a while to find one that was empty enough to let us in, because I guess these places fill up fast on weekends. We finally found one and were told that the girls could get in for free, but the boys had to pay. I guess they were short girls or something?
When we went in, I thought I recognized the song and was wondering where I`d heard it before when I realized that it was a forró version of single ladies! It was an interesting mix of Brazilian style and flair with an American dance beat, and I liked it. The bar that we were in was a small little dive of a place, but there was room for a stage, where the band was playing, and a dance floor. The three of us exchange students had never danced forró before and so we had to be taught. You dance with a partner, and the steps are kind of like swing dance steps. You just dance much closer together and it’s a lot faster. There’s also a lot of swinging of hips and other body movement involved. I’ve never been that good at swing dancing and wasn’t very good at this, but it was still really fun! It definitely takes some getting used to; you really have to feel the beat. All the Brazilians who came with us and the ones who were there were very good. That’s the thing about Brazilians, they really know how to dance!
We stayed at the forró bar until close to 2, so I was glad it was a Saturday. I’ve had some nights when I’ve been out until after midnight and then had to get up at 6 for school, which is not fun. That’s something I don’t understand about here. All the Brazilians like to stay out really late, but then they have to get up for school. Why not have school start at like 9 instead? Another thing I don’t understand (and this is completely random and off-topic) is that oranges are green here (weird, right?), not orange, but they are still called laranjas, which means orange. It funny, but also paradoxical.
Another one of my nights here was spent going out with friends to a real Brazilian churrascaria! (I really don’t know if I’m spelling that right…) A churrascaria is a Brazilian meathouse with many different types of ‘churrasco’, which is basically, as far as I can see, just a fancier way of saying ‘carne’, which means meat. The churrascaria we went to was called Sal e Brassa. It was a pretty fancy place and everyone got all dressed up. Even though it was a week night, we didn’t start dinner until around 9, which is pretty normal here. And now for the food! Ted Meyer, if you’re reading this I don’t mean to make you jealous because I know how meat-deprived you’re feeling, but they really had every single kind of meat imaginable at this place. It was amazing! I really didn’t even know what I was eating most of the time, just that it was delicious. The waiters would walk around with these huge skewers of meat and constantly come up to us asking if which type of churrasco we wanted . There were wide varieties of pork, beef, chicken, ham, steak, sausage, etc., with certain specialties such as a filet mignon wrapped in bacon, pork smothered in a parmesan/garlic coating, and chicken hearts. The chicken hearts were interesting…the flavor actually reminded me of a really strongly flavored piece of turkey meat.
There was also this amazing buffet that had literally everything. There were about 15 different types of salad, pastas both hot and cold, fruits and vegetables galore, bread, cheese, fish, rice, beans, potatoes, lot of dishes I don’t know the name of, and even sushi! There was also this amazing dessert bar with like 10 different types of cake. Let me tell, you Brazilians really know their cake. I think every piece of cake I’ve had here has exceeded any cake I’ve ever tasted in the U.S., with the possible exception of a glorious coffee cheesecake I once had. Although everything at the restaurant blew me away, I would have to say that my favorite thing I had there was the fried bananas. I don’t know why, the meat sure was something else, but these bananas just hit the spot. They were sweet and slightly unripe on the inside, just the way I like it, with a breaded and perfectly crunchy, lightly salted exterior. It was glorious.
If you’ve been to Fogo de Chão, the Brazilian Churrascaria in Minneapolis, you’re probably thinking that this sounds really similar. In some ways, it was. The type of food was for the most part really similar. However, there was just way more of it here, in terms of meat and the buffet food. It also just tasted better. The Brazilians take their meat seriously, actually they take all their food seriously, and everything was prepared to perfection. Also, the price difference was extreme! In the U.S., I think it was a little over $50 per person at Fogo de Chão, plus the tip. So four people would probably end up spending about $250. Our party was just under 20 people, and I think we probably ended up spending about that all together. My meal was 27 reais, which is like $15! I was amazed, I was prepared to pay what I did in the states! But food is just cheaper here; I think it’s because most of it is produced somewhat locally. I’ll probably ramble on even more about the food later, but for now, tchau e um abraço!