Brazilian Insights Part 2

Discoveries in Music, Dance, Food and more 🙂

View from my terrace 🙂

Today marks two weeks in Rio. It’s been an insane blast of a ride and I couldn’t be happier with my time so far. I’ve never felt more alive, more in the zone, more in a constant state of flow in my entire life.

Discoveries and Insights continue to pile on day by day, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way 😃

1) Music Discoveries

Brazil is a never-ending rabbit hole of new musical discoveries. It’s the first country I’ve been to in my life that has this wide of a selection of music, other than the good ol’ USA. It’s musical abundance galore.

For one, I’ve been falling asleep to this playlist on Spotify every night. Nothing relaxes me better. I’ve spent many days lying in the hammock here reading my book with this playing in my ears. It’s a glorious delight.

Some other artists that I have discovered that are treating me very well –

Jorge Bem —

Classic dude who everyone knows. He was the first person I looked up. One song — Ai Ai Caramba — Is my jam

Chico Buarque —

The Frank Sinatra of Brazilian Music.

Some others –

Vinicius Moraes

Tom Jobim

Caetano Veloso

Vanessa Damata

Then we have some more hip/hop/reggae…

3030 —

Love these dudes. Kinda like a Brazilian version of the Roots. Super mellow and chill. Probably my favorite music I’ve discovered so far.

Natiruts

Now, this conversation would not be complete without a conversation about

Baile Funk.

This is essentially Brazilian funk, which is a mix of African beats, house music, and latin flavor. The quintessential “boom cha cha, boom cha”, is a component of any beat you will hear. If you really want to get down and funky, just type in Baile Funk into Spotify and enjoy the ride.

Here’s my favorite playlist so far: https://open.spotify.com/user/diegovalente/playlist/6JQq1jfDwo8RYbgo6Fj0VW

2) Dance Discoveries

Similarly to music, for obvious reasons there’s also an abundance of dance styles as well. Music and dance are ingrained into the Brazilian spirit. Simply put, they get down.

Here are the ones I’ve discovered so far. The best thing about all of these is that each style can be broken down into ten more styles. There’s a variety and a spectrum among each, all fascinating in their own right.

Forro —

This was the first one I tried. At first I didn’t like the accordion and felt like I was listening to Folk music but it grew on me. Especially when dancing with a beautiful Brazilian woman 😉

Steps are slow and I picked up on this one pretty quickly. The hardest part is that you have to listen to the music to know when to turn, spin, etc, and I didn’t yet have the ear for this despite picking up on the initial steps quickly.

Samba —

Samba kind of blows my mind. In Forro you can look at people’s feet and get an understanding of how to do the moves. It’s easy to study the movements and mimic them on your own.

In Samba however, try to look at someone’s feet and you will be left stupefied. The feet move so fast it’s hard to keep up. What’s even more incredible is that if you look at someone from the waist up it barely even looks like they are moving.

It’s gonna take me a while to catch onto this one.

Capoeira —

More of a fighting style but dancing in it’s own right as well. It’s like dance-fighting. Pretty fun. Involves cartwheels and handstands and spins and flips so can get pretty dope if you become good at it. Here’s a video from when I was given an introduction while on a tour last weekend.


A note on quite possibly my favorite experience in Brazil so far. Bear with me for a moment while I tell you a quick story….

Remember Baile Funk from before? Well one night I was on the terrace of the hostel while listening to the music from a giant party across the street when this song comes on…

While we’re looking down onto the street, a woman decides to walk out of her house. She looks like an older woman, Probably around 40–50, married with kids, slightly heavy set, probably recently cooking/cleaning.

At first she’s just moving her hips side to side, feeling out the beat. Then her arms go in the air. They start waving side to side. Now she’s grooving a bit. (0:00–0:40)

After about thirty seconds you can really see her feeling it. Just at that moment, the beat drops and BOOM (0:41). She starts twerking like no other. Instantly breaking it down with full enthusiasm as if no one in the world was watching and she didn’t have a care in the world. It was beautiful to watch.

Just at the peak of her breakdown, she became conscious of if people were watching and looked in our direction. We stopped watching, and by the time we looked back she was already inside.

Either way, a beautiful moment of Brazilian culture summed up in a nutshell in the most memorable way possible 😂

3) Alcohol Discoveries –

No conversation about Brazil is complete without discussing alcohol — specifically Cachasa 😃

Cachaça —

Made from fermented sugar cane juice. It’s the basis for Caipirinha’s, the national drink of Brazil (Cachaça, sugar, lime). It’s delicious.

My favorite part isn’t Cachaça itself though. It’s all the infusions. So far I’ve tried coconut, pineapple, ginger, corn(!?), and another famous one called Gabriela (Cinnamon and clove). All have been equally delicious.

There’s a spot down the street from me that has bottles upon bottles upon bottles. He’s become my best friend. Lately it’s been my routine to drink a glass with him while I wait for my uber/taxi. We’re quickly becoming friends and developing a rapport and it’s beautiful. (might I add all in Portuguese 😉

Catuaba —

My next favorite discovery. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but it’s an infused tree bark with Acai that produces a wine like substance. It’s also an aphrodisiac and will leave you feeling frisky late into the night on your erotic adventures 😈 Just look at the label on the bottle, it says it all…

3) Food Discoveries –

Food so far has been good but nothing crazy. It’s a lot of rice, beans, chicken, beef, sausages, veggies and such. Nothing in particular that is earth shattering.

Don’t get me wrong, the food has been delicious. But just nothing wildly different like it was in Korea or India. Considering the various cuisines of the world and how strange things can get, this has been pretty normal (so far…)

Nonetheless, here are some of my favorite new discoveries…

Farofa —

Literally translated into crumbs, Farofa is a toasted flour and cassava mixture. It looks like sand, and tastes like a salty powder. Sometimes it has small pieces of dried meat in there as well. Despite it’s simplicity, I find it delicious. I’m quickly adding it to every one of my meals as a staple.

Image Credit (http://s2.glbimg.com/ortgiXPpYzXZoVHaLzQpXBPuJPI=/s.glbimg.com/et/gs/f/original/2015/12/17/farofa_x67QiiQ.jpg)

Feijoada —

A stew of pork and beans. This is a Portuguese dish that is a staple in the Brazilian diet. Unlike normal pork dishes, they use the ENTIRE animal. This means feet, ears, and other parts where you don’t quite know what you’re eating. I’ve had this a few times, and personally think it’s just ok. If you like black beans and meat you can’t go wrong, but it’s nothing earth shattering.

Image credit (http://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/feijoada-7.jpg)

Churrasco —

Barbeque — Throw a ton of meat on the grill and have a party. Who can argue with that!

Churrasco we had at the hostel

Acai —

Disappointingly, the first time I tried Acai I got sick and threw up. Apparently they mix it with Banana in order to give it a sorbet like texture, and well, I have a banana allergy so that didn’t go very well. I’m not actually sure if I’m allergic, but for now I’ll be staying away from the Acai.

Here are some other sweet random pictures of food’s I’ve eaten so far…

That’s it for now! Wanted to brain dump some of my recent discoveries so I have more time to churn on some of the longer insights and stories that have taken place so far. Much much more to come in the weeks ahead, stay tuned and I hope you enjoyed reading 😃

Thoughts? Similar experiences? Let me know in the comments below!

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