Our little vira-lata (mutt)

My husband and I are were looking to expand our little family because I am not working right now and we thought it might be a good time to adopt a puppy. Sounds easy, right? Well it is not for lack of options that made this task difficult, it is because there are so many puppies and dogs in Brazil that need a good home.  Two of our friends at Yale adopted two dogs in Brazil and found it to be a very rewarding experience.

Like in America there are several breeders of dogs and so when we first talked about getting a puppy, my husband’s friend offered to sell us one of his litter pups that were coming in a couple of weeks.  This idea didn’t sit well with me because every dog I’ve ever owned has been a rescue. Plus when looking to purchase a dog we found several breeders selling their puppies for R$500 to R$1,000 reis, CRAZY!

Are initial search began in Curitiba with my mother-in-law who has four rescue dogs. She contacted a local foster home to help us find a dog, but unfortunately all of the dogs we liked were too big and it just wouldn’t be fair to them being stuck in an apartment. So back in Sao Paulo we started a new search and found several websites that have rescues on them; we found these two to be the most helpful:  http://www.animaisos.org/ (which has an English option), and http://www.adotacao.com.br/. The only problem was that we liked so many dogs and we had to email the people individually to go see the dogs; it wasn’t very efficient for us.

That’s when I found this website http://adotacao.blogspot.com.br/ . Every week they post all the adoption fairs around the city for the weekend. So Saturday we set off early to see if we could find a dog. Our first stop was in the Higienópolis neighborhood at a Pet shop, the fair had started at 9am and by the time we got there at 11am there was one dog left and he was a scruffy little thing, not really a good fit. Our next stop was at the Pão de Açúcar parking lot in the Pinheiros neighborhood the fair started at 11am so there were about 7 or 8 little dogs and puppies. My husband and I were immediately drawn two little black puppies 5 months old and sisters; Tina Turner and Janis Joplin.

Tina Turner was a sweet docile girl who would come up and let you pet her but was not overly excited about anything. Janis on the other hand was bouncing up and down and at one point was trying to tear her way out of the crate. I ask the woman the back-story on the puppies and she said (in English) “I found their mother on the street, she was pregnant and so I rescued her. She had ten puppies; eight of them were blond and were already adopted so these are the last two.”

After a brief discussion with my husband he and I both knew that Tina Turner was the right choice, especially because we live in an apartment. After some paper work, an interview, R$50.00, a prayer, and the sign of the cross and we were on our way.  As we drove away my husband asked “Are we going to keep the name Tina?” In the end we decided to change it to Nina because Tina doesn’t sound good in Portuguese and we thought it wouldn’t be too confusing.


Comfort Foods

Blogging like life has its highs and lows.  This week I’ve found it very difficult to come up with a blog topic; it’s not like I don’t have a plethora of topics to talk about, it’s that nothing this week has inspired me. And I’m not saying São Paulo has lost its excitement for me, it’s just nothing happened this week to lend a good story.

So I decided in my depths of despair of writers block to turn to the only real thing that brings me comfort…food. So what does this have to do with São Paulo? Well, finding comfort foods in São Paulo from whatever country you are from can be quite a challenge. As I lay in bed last night I was thinking of all of the daily foods in America that I miss like: English muffins, bagels, tacos, burritos, tortilla chips, apple pie, muffins, hamburgers, alfredo sauce, Reese’s peanut butter cups (I could go on for hours). Some of these things you can actually find in São Paulo while others you either make from scratch or you will never find. And some things I have replaced with my Brazilian favorites like pão de queijo and brigadeiros.

This week my husband took me to a nice grocery store in Jardins neighborhood called Casa Santa Luiza http://www.santaluzia.com.br/.  It is an expensive market but it has a lot of variety of Brazilian brands as well as imports. I was elated when I found a medium size bag of Brazilian brand corn tortilla chips called Garytos http://www.tortillas.com.br/, and they were only R$4,00 or approximately $2.20 dollars. But the grand prize of the trip was that I actually found sour cream.

I love sour cream! Not only do I use it for Mexican dishes like tacos but I also use it for baked potatoes, cooking, dips and baking. Brazilians have not discovered how wonderful sour cream is yet and until this week I have never found it in the grocery store. My quest for sour cream began several years ago when my husband lived in Rio de Janeiro. We went to several stores and never found it, we even went to a Mexican restaurant and asked them where they get theirs and it turns out they make it themselves. One of the chefs at Gringo Café in Rio told me how to make it and I tried it once but it just wasn’t the same. At Casa Santa Luiza we actually found a Brazilian manufacturer of sour cream and guess what the product was called, Sour Cream (In English). The only problem is that this brand cost R$15,00 or $8.30 dollars for a very small tub. Fortunately Casa Santa Luiza also makes their own sour cream called “Crème de leite azedo” and sells it for R$6,00 or $3.30 dollars for a bigger tub than “Sour Cream.”

All I can say is that these two finds at Casa Santa Luiza have brought me a lot of comfort this week! But I would like to hear from you, Brazilians and Americans or whatever country you are from, what are your comfort foods?

Phrase of the Day!


Negócio da China = Business in China

Negócio da China means “What a bargain” or “Excellent deal.” I learned this expression in Portuguese class yesterday and it is interesting to me. I guess Brazilians feel China makes cheap goods as well?

Down with the Cartórios!

Cartório literally translated means “notary or registers office”, but what it means in reality is blood sucking thieves! In my attempt to get my resident card here in Brazil, I’ve already had to visit the cartório at least ten times and each time pay a lovely fee. Yesterday I paid a whopping R$114 for the authentication of some documents.

So why is this system so frustrating? It’s because in Brazil your signature is virtually useless unless it is authenticated at one of these cartórios. That means these people get to charge you every time you need something signed or copied. The worst part of this all is that these places are not government owned; they are owned by private citizens who are typically among the same families of the rich and elite.

The history of cartórios began with Brazil’s monarchy system, the king paid private (rich) citizens to administer government services to the people. Today the majority of this has faded away with the Republic but still the cartórios remain. Recently the Brazilian government created a test for people who want to open a new cartório; this was to level the playing field and to allow the non-rich to have the opportunity to own a cartório. However, speculation thinks that this is just a ruse and that the same families who have owned the cartórios for years are the ones who pass the test.

So why have this system in the first place? It is because cartório lobbyists are too powerful against the government. I think that Brazilians need stand up and protest against this system! Yes, maybe they need to start an Ocupar Cartório (Occupy Cartorio) and see if they can make a change. No, on second thought I think the fight is futile because we have seen how well it has worked out for the Americans.


Word of the Day.


Rúcula = Arugula

Before moving to São Paulo, my husband and I went to Búzios for my Birthday. We went out for a nice dinner and my husband asked for a menu in English for me. One of the entrées read “Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onions, and Rockets.” When we looked at the Portuguese menu my husband said, “Oh that’s arugula.”

Click here for pronunciation http://www.forvo.com/word/r%C3%BAcula/


One of my favorite things in all of Brazil is Açaí. Açaí is a berry that comes from an Açaí Palm that is indigenous to Central and South America. In Brazil they take the pulp of Açaí and turn it into a yummy frozen ice cream like consistency and it can be served with either fruit or granola.

The great thing about Açaí is unlike ice cream it is healthy for you. It is high in calories but the majority of the calories are from dietary fiber which is much better. Açaí is also has a lot of protein, iron, and healthy fats. There are several studies out there on the antioxidant effects of Açaí and other health benefits, although nothing has been substantially proven all I can tell you is that it tastes great!

My husband and I were at the paint store a couple of weeks ago and across the street was a place that sells Açaí called Açaí Frooty. This is a popular brand of Açaí that you can find in the grocery stores. We sat down and ordered two Pequeno (small) bowls of Açaí which turned out to be medium size bowls in reality. I ate my entire bowl and after my husband had finished his after only a few bites, I finished off his. What can I say? I LOVE Açaí!

Here is the American website for Açaí Frooty http://www.frootyacai.com/, there is a section for where you can buy it, but only my friends in California can try it.

Here is the Brazilian website if you want to stop by the store it is on RUA NATINGUI, 700 – VILA MADALENA / SÃO PAULO. http://www.acaifrooty.com.br/

Embu das Artes

Saturday my husband took me to Embu das Artes. Embu is town located about 20 minutes outside São Paulo and its history has led it to be a city of artists. The city was founded in 1554 by Jesuits whose objective was to convert the native people to Catholics. Then in 1937 Cassio M’Boy, a religious sculpture, won first prize at the Exposition Internationel d’Arts Techniques du Paris which began the formation of the city of artists.

Today Embu das Artes, is a cute little town with cobble stone streets and about a hundred little shops. These shops sell anything from repurposed furniture, hand craft home décor, specialty foods, wine, cheese, clothing, and jewelry. In-between the shops along the pathway are about a hundred little stands selling all kinds of hand craft items. The entire town is like a very nice street market.

My husband and I are still trying to furnish our apartment and furniture in São Paulo is expensive. We found several nice pieces at Embu das Artes that were very reasonably priced and made of quality wood. We only bought a couple of nightstands this week because that was all that would fit in our car but we are absolutely going back soon. I definitely recommend this place, even to tourists, because it is a lovely day of shopping with several restaurants for lunch but you must have a car to get there.