What do Brazilians eat on their waffles? This is a serious question, no really I would really like to know…
I love waffles and for the first four months of living here I have made my own waffles at home with a waffle iron we got for our wedding. The problem is that this is not a daily morning breakfast thing but more of a once a week on the weekends routine. So you can appreciate my excitement when my husband and I found frozen waffles in the grocery store the other day. The only problem was that at home I put blueberries in my waffles and eat them with butter, but these waffles were plain. So my husband and I decided to look for syrup. We tracked it down in the baking aisle and the only brand they had was maple syrup imported from Canada for the reasonable price of R$57.00. This is about $28.50 dollars. Are they insane? Who would pay almost $30 for maple syrup? And does anyone actually buy this?
Well, we return to the grocery store the next week and randomly, as I was walking by the ice cream aisle (my favorite aisle), I saw another brand of syrup in the topping section. This was a Brazilian brand of syrup and the price was only R$16.00 or $8.00 dollars. Still this seems not right to me, why is syrup (made in Brazil) so expensive. My only guess is that this is a relatively new product and the company wants to ensure a good profit margin.
So back to my original question…If Brazilians buy R$5.00 frozen waffles, what do they put on them? Or do they eat them plain? I guess I am going to have to continue to eat strawberries on my waffles and my husband eats cream cheese on his until Brazilians discover the incredibleness of syrup. Because there is no way I am paying R$16.00 for syrup!
Living in another culture is a funny thing because you find things in that culture that don’t exist in your own. This can be difficult to understand sometime. When my husband and I first moved to São Paulo, we went out to dinner with his boss and his boss’s wife-Marianna. His boss’s wife gave a good example of this, she is Brazilian and lived in England for a couple of years; every time she would check out at the grocery store the clerk would ask her “Do you want cash back?” At first she didn’t even know the word “cash back” because they said it so fast, so every time they asked she would just say “No thank you.” Finally one day she saw another patron get cash back and realized what the clerk was asking her.I think that it was not only the language barrier that prevented Marianna from understanding what the clerk said but the fact that in Brazil “cash back” does not exist. The only way you can get cash in Brazil is from the bank.
Before moving to Brazil I had visited several cities like Rio and Curitiba. I had also purchased several things in stores without a problem, but when I moved to São Paulo I quickly realized that the checkout people were asking me something that I didn’t know what it was. And like Marianna I would always say, “No thank you.” Now living here for a couple of months I know what the clerks were asking, they are asking for my CPF number or Nota Fiscal Paulista. My CPF number is basically my social security number in Brazil. The reason the clerks ask this is because in the state of São Paulo if you registered your CPF on the state’s website and give it to the clerks every time you purchase something you can get a tax refund on the goods you purchase.
This is something that does not exist in America. My husband explains the reasoning for it is because corporations in Brazil have a tendency to not pay taxes. So when a person gets the refund it comes out of the corporation’s taxes? I’m still not totally clear about what Nota Fiscal Paulista is and why it is only in SãoPaulo, but if a clerk asks you for your CPF, feel free to say “Nao, Obrigado.”