30 January 2012

Gran Ciné Bardot

Our Gran Ciné Bardot
For those of us who love stage and screen, the cultural life of Búzios revolves around our little 111-seat movie theater, the Gran Ciné Bardot. Without it we might all have had to move. The theater was built about 18 years ago by a passionate cinephile, Mario José Paz, one of the hundreds of Argentines who fell in love with Búzios and have made it their home. To this day the Ciné Bardot is the only game in town, but we wouldn't want it any other way. The theater is both glamorous and relaxed, accessible to all yet intimate, a place to meet like-minded movie buffs and stay late into the night talking celluloid at the theater's café/bar.

The very first movie Mark and I saw at the Ciné Bardot was Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. I don't remember which we liked best, the movie, the comfy, red leather chairs or the old movie posters all over the place. Since that first screening we have kept an eager eye on the weekly programming. There are the occasional blockbuster new releases, especially during high season, and we understand that that's good for business. But Mario José hasn't forgotten his core audience, and there's always some Iranian or Chinese or Romanian movie as counterbalance. Occasionally there's a surprise. Some years ago I think Mario José just had a hankering to rewatch Casablanca, so he opened the theater on an off night and showed the film to a very appreciative audience. I don't think I had ever seen the film on the big screen. What a treat!

Mario José Paz
Mario José and his Ciné Bardot are the dapper host and elegant setting of the annual Búzios International Film Festival, but even so it remains a small-town operation. Years ago, as Mark and I waited to go in to see the hip-hop rapper film 8 Mile — give me a break, there was nothing else playing that weekend and it wasn't a bad movie — we saw Mario José's wife, Ana, casually hanging around the lobby, near the ticket window. When a group of young kids tried to buy tickets to this R-rated film, she sweetly, but firmly, intervened. "Does your Mom know you're here?" she asked the oldest kid. "Oh, yeah, sure..." he answered. "Give me your cell phone," and Ana hit fast dial number one, knowing there'd be a parent at the other end. The two oldest kids? They got to go in. But the two youngest, eight and ten, stayed outside with Ana until their parents came to pick them up. I have to say, we were impressed.

Shanah, in charge of it all, far right; Woody Allen, far left
Mario José has a personal collection of nearly 4,000 DVDs, and two years ago he decided to share them and expand into a video rental operation. To our abiding gratitude he opened the Ciné Bardot Videoteca. For a monthly fee of 50 reais ($28), members of the video club have unlimited access to this extraordinary collection. Who'd have thought we'd get the chance to rewatch Double Indemnity, The Man Who Would be King, Hannah and Her Sisters, The 400 Blows, not to mention all of Fellini, Chabrol, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Cassavetes, Capra, Kieslowski — the list is endless, and the depth of this collection is remarkable. In recent months we've watched all three seasons (106 episodes) of HBO's In Treatment, all 15½ hours of Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz and all 9½ hours of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah. Whew! A few months ago Netflix expanded into Brazil and showered us with "one free month" membership offers. So we took a look at the movies they were offering. We found nothing — nothing at all — to rival the treasure trove we already have.

26 January 2012

Overseas Voting

"There are 285 days left before this year's elections in the USA!" "Be an active overseas voter!" "Request your absentee ballots here!" "Take note, new absentee voting laws in effect for the 2012 elections!" The e-mails have been arriving fast and furious, from the American Consulate in Rio, the Overseas Vote Foundation, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, from Democrats Abroad, from any organization, both partisan and non-partisan, that has our addresses. The e-mails come with long, detailed, state-by-state instructions on how to request our absentee ballots, where to send them, what to do if you don't get them and what to do if you do get them.

Not that I need all of this prodding. My parents instilled in me the idea of voting as sacred. And nothing was more satisfying than that "whoosh" of the curtain closing behind you when you stepped into the voting booth. I have been voting for 42 years, counting from my maiden voyage in the 1969 New York City mayoral elections (John Lindsay against — well, the other guy) and I'm not about to stop now. So we've duly registered to receive our absentee ballots for the upcoming presidential election — the only one we're eligible to vote in — when they become available. We will add our votes to those of New York State, which is where we last resided, even knowing that our votes will only be counted should the state tally be close. But even as I exercise my right as a US citizen, I can't help but hear former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill remind us that "all politics is local."

No question but that people tend to care most passionately about the everyday issues right in front of them, and I wish — I really wish — that I could vote here in Búzios. Mark and I pay our municipal taxes each year only to watch them be mismanaged by the city government. Private enterprise is doing a terrific job improving the quality of our lives, but the so-called authorities? They can't seem to do the simplest of tasks, even with the healthy financial boost the city coffers get from offshore oil production royalties. Construction projects promised during campaigns are started but never finished, and are left to deteriorate into ghostly ruins all over town. Roads are not maintained and they, too, are left to deteriorate into dangerous obstacle courses. And how many public employees does it take to change a streetlight bulb in Búzios? They can't manage even that, which is mind-boggling given that the city collects a "public illumination" fee from everyone's monthly electric bill. There's a nice chunk of money lining someone's pocket. Every week the streets just get darker and darker. And don't get me started on garbage collection. One million reais a month — a month! — and the streets are never clean.



The mayors of Búzios — aka the "-inhos," an affectionate diminutive meaning "little" — have been playing musical chairs with our city hall ever since Búzios was emancipated from neighboring Cabo Frio. There's a certain Mirinho, who presided over the city for eight years, then one Toninho, who took the next four, and now we're once again at the mercy of Mirinho, who's in the first four of what he hopes will be another eight years in power. In addition to the eager and hopeful Toninho hovering in the wings, there are also two other candidates planning a run this year, a Chiquinho and an Otavinho. (After all, they have the qualifying diminutive.) Unfortunately, being successfully elected in Búzios is not seen as a mandate to do good for the city. It is seen merely as guaranteed employment for family, in-laws, cousins, friends, and anyone else who voted for you on the promise of a job. It's sleazy patronage at its most obvious. Too bad I can neither beat them nor join them because if I could, I'd vote early, and often.

23 January 2012

Twin Pianos

"I love a piano, I love a piano, 
I love to hear somebody play, 
Upon a piano, a grand piano, 
It simply carries me away..." 

Years ago in New York Mark and I were channel-surfing one night, and happened on a peculiarly New York show called "John's Cabaret," starring John Wallowitch. Here was this elfin guy of some other era, dressed in a tuxedo, sitting at a piano playing show tunes, while constantly engaging in a back-and-forth patter with unseen people offstage. Fascinated, Mark and I took to tuning in the show every week. Wallowitch was such a character, and his show embodied all of my ideas about New York cabaret sophistication. Imagine my astonishment when years later, in Brazil, we were channel-surfing one night and happened on a show called "Pianíssimo," starring Pedrinho Mattar. Here was this elfin guy of some other era, dressed in a tuxedo, sitting at a piano playing show tunes, while constantly engaging in a back-and-forth patter with unseen people offstage. Coincidence? Or some strange North American-South American synchronicity?

                                  JW (left), PM (right). Separated at birth?

We slid right into the old Wallowitch groove and began to watch Pedrinho Mattar every Sunday. With little or no Portuguese at that time, I was particularly delighted. Mattar spoke in English and French as well as Portuguese. He told little anecdotes that I kind of followed. He showed film clips of old Hollywood musicals that made me wistful for the Late Late Show. During his television show there was always mention of his weekly Saturday night gig at the Casa Grande Hotel in Guarujá, an old resort town on the coast of São Paulo State. At first Mark and I joked about going to see his show, but we were just joking. Then we thought, we never saw Rosemary Clooney at the Rainbow Room when we had the chance. We never saw Bobby Short at the Carlyle when we had the chance. We never saw Wallowitch anywhere. They're all gone now. This Pedrinho Mattar, he was no spring chicken. Were we going to miss him, too?

You see where this is going. We made reservations and headed for Guarujá. We got to the imposing Casa Grande Hotel early, chose a table right in front of the piano, and spent a delightfully old-fashioned cabaret evening. Towards the end of the show, Mattar started peppering the audience with musical trivia questions, and voices around us tentatively called out answers. Then came the stumper of the evening: "Who played the piano player, Sam, in Casablanca?" "Dooley Wilson," I heard myself shout out. "Give that woman another one of whatever she's drinking," Mattar ordered the waiter. Best Kir Royale I ever had.

For those who like to dabble in the occult, think about this: Wallowitch was born in the month of February and died in the month of August. Mattar was born in the month of August and died in the month of February. And both of them died in the year 2007. Coincidence? You decide.

19 January 2012

Madame President

Dilma Rousseff, Most Excellent Madame President of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The majority of Brazilians refer to her simply as "Dilma." I think it's cool to have a woman president, and I'm enjoying living this moment in Brazil's history. My impression of her so far? More than favorable. This woman brooks no nonsense. She has walked into a house ransacked by adolescents, taken a deep breath, rolled up her sleeves and started putting the house in order. She's taken over and taken charge, and plenty of ministers and other government appointees are running scared.

I thought Dilma was terrible as a candidate, a complete turn-off. She was humorless, she had no personal touch, she was a boring speaker, she lumbered along from campaign stop to campaign stop looking as uncomfortable as she probably felt. Typical wonky technocrat. Had I been Brazilian and able to vote, I would have voted for the other guy, José Serra.  He happens also to be a fairly humorless technocrat with no personal touch, boring and lumbering. But he had a slight edge in the experience department, having already been governor of São Paulo state, mayor of São Paulo city and an innovative national Minister of Health.

But as president Dilma's come into her own. For those politicians who for years routinely considered seat-of-government Brasilía to be a pit stop between long weekends back in their home states, Dilma had other ideas. She began scheduling ministerial meetings for Friday afternoons. For those politicians who had regularly expropriated the Brazilian Air Force for their weekly commutes, Dilma strongly "urged" commercial aircraft. She responded to the indignant public outcry against the diplomatic passports that President Lula, in the last days of his tenure, granted to his sons and grandchildren, and who knows who else. Dilma's new rules? No more diplomatic passports except to government officials and diplomats. If you're like me, and you get indignant at the self-importance and self-enrichment of elected officials, you gotta love this woman.

The Anointed, by Nicholas Lemann
Lula was a very popular president, and now that he's battling cancer he's practically been canonized. But it was during his eight-year term that corruption in Brazil flourished. It was during his watch that there was all that back-slapping and winking and looking the other way, when certain political parties took it as le droit du seigneur that they owned certain ministries. You'll get no back-slapping from Dilma. The words used to describe her? Austere, exacting, serious, blunt, stern and restrained. An article in the December 5, 2011 issue of the New Yorker paints Dilma as a "forceful presence" who speaks in a "deep, stentorian voice," and who "commands attention" with her "considerable determination." That may not sound very flashy and exciting, but given the moral mess Lula left behind him, I believe her manner will serve her well. You go girl!

16 January 2012

The Claremont Salad Lives!

The Claremont Diner, in Clifton, NJ
I grew up in New Jersey, not far from one of the famous "Jersey diners," the Claremont Diner. Called simply The Claremont, it was best known for two things: the courtesy salad that was plunked down on your table as soon as you slipped into your booth — and refilled faster than you could empty the little metal bowl — and the slice of heavenly cheesecake you ordered at the end of the meal. The Claremont is long gone now, both the original diner in Verona (which burned down) and its replacement in Clifton, which is now a car dealership. But the food memories of all its grateful customers live on. And thanks to the Internet, where the original recipes circulate freely, we can now recreate at least some of our culinary past.

Oh, the memories . . .
The Claremont salad is sweet and sour and crunchy and addictive and healthy. I found the recipe online and started making it here in Brazil when I wanted something different to serve to guests for a summer lunch. Reaction to it was so positive that I began making and serving it regularly. I kept copies of the recipe in both English and Portuguese, because no way would a guest leave our house without the recipe in hand. One day, as I was preparing a batch, our cleaning lady, Rosângela, asked what I was making. As we talked about the salad, I knew that the best way to really show her would be to give her a container to take home to her family, along with the recipe in case they liked it. Well, she said they loved it. This was six, maybe seven years ago, and for years nobody said anything more about it.

Not until last week, when Rosângela started talking about her weight loss (which has indeed been considerable). She wanted me to know that she attributes the loss in part to her eating the Claremont salad, which she calls "that salad you showed me how to do years ago." She told me that nowadays, instead of taking dessert when invited to a party, she takes the Claremont salad. She's actually become famous in her neighborhood for it. She told me she's given the recipe out to dozens of friends, who've passed it on to dozens of their friends. She also told me that she gave the recipe to her family doctor, who fell in love with it and serves it every time he has a barbecue. Of course, given how the game of telephone works, I wonder how close to the original these versions are. But even so, it gives me pause to think that the Claremont salad of my childhood lives on in the wilds of Búzios, Brazil. I think the Bauman brothers, Leo and Morris, co-founders of the Claremont Diner, would be pleased. I know I am. 

Here's the original recipe. Be sure to make it in advance so that the salt, sugar and vinegar form a pickling solution that permeates the vegetables and softens the cabbage. You can eat it after an overnight in the refrigerator, but leaving it the fridge for two full days is better.

The Claremont Salad
1 head of cabbage (white or red), shredded 1/2 C sugar
1 green (or red) pepper, sliced                          1/2 C vinegar
1 large onion, sliced                                        1/2 C salad oil
2 carrots, sliced in rounds                                1 tsp salt
1 cucumber, sliced in thin rounds                     1 TBS water

Mix all of the above ingredients together and place in a big bowl or a large plastic food storage bag. Let sit at room temperature for two hours, then place the salad in the refrigerator.

For those who want the full experience, here are the Claremont Diner cheesecakes. Their original recipe can be found on the Carnegie Deli's website.

12 January 2012


Jambul - the nickname stuck
The first time I ever heard the huge, piercing voice of a samba singer known as Jamelão (a sweet, dark fruit called jambul in English), I was unpacking in a hotel room in São Paulo. We'd just checked in, Mark had turned on the TV so we could have some background hum. What he found quite accidentally was a program on TV Cultura showcasing this kind of grumpy and unsmiling guy singing with a small back-up band. I stopped unpacking. We were transfixed. It's not every day you hear a voice so different, so compelling, that 1) you spend the rest of your trip trying to find his CDs, 2) you spend the next 15 years trying to track down the DVD of the show you saw on the hotel TV, 3) you become such a fan that you attend every performance you can, including the final show he gave on his 90th birthday, and 4) years after his death you still expect to hear his voice leading Mangueira, his samba school, down Rio's famed Sambadrome at Carnaval.

José Bispo Clementino dos Santos, aka Jamelão, a giant of Brazilian music. Best known for his booming voice (untrained, by the way) with its special timber, he was also infamous for his bad moods, his short temper and his sharp tongue. Identified forever with Mangueira, the samba school he got involved with back in the '40s,  Jamelão was also a crooner of a particular type of samba music known as dor de cotovelo, or "elbow pain." Got it? That's right, the pain you get leaning on your elbows at a bar, pouring your sob story out to the bartender. There was never any mistaking Jamelão for anyone else. He was recognized for the panama hat he always wore, for the ever-present elastic bands wrapped around his fingers, and for a voice that simply soared.

King Momo
The first time we saw Jamelão in person was at the Sambadrome. He was already in his late 80s, moving slowly with the help of a cane, but that didn't stop him from getting up onto Mangueira's sound truck, as he had done for the previous 50 years or more, and repeatedly belting out the samba to which 4,000 or so Mangueirenses danced along nonstop for the next 80 minutes. A few years later we saw him there again, this time up close. Thanks to press credentials Mark and I had pretty free run of the Sambadrome, and found ourselves down at the start of the runway as Mangueira was getting ready to enter. I nearly walked right into Jamelão. Mark was taking a picture of that year's King Momo, the Carnaval King, so he didn't see Jamelão. But Jamelão saw the camera. He immediately shielded his face with his hand, said something choice (I didn't catch it, but I knew it was nasty) and hurried on his way, grousing and grumping about journalists. So instead of a picture of the great Jamelão, we got the one you see here.
The last time we saw Jamelão was at the Bar do Tom (Jobim, that is) in Rio. The occasion was his 90th birthday and last solo show. After a long delay, three musicians came onstage and began tuning up. More delay. Finally, out strolled Jamelão, oblivious to the loud applause, with a huge, messy pile of what looked like sheet music. He dropped the pile on a table and — inexplicably — walked back offstage as most of the pages fell to the floor. When he reappeared, it was with a full glass of whiskey. Now he was ready. Jamelão sat down, picked up the microphone and began singing. He never once looked at any of the sheet music. He never forgot a lyric, though he sang for nearly three hours. True to his second nickname, the King of Requests, Jamelão sang all song requests that were sent up to the stage by the audience. The evening was memorable and magical and bittersweet.
Of all Jamelão's recordings, in my opinion the best one is Por Força do Hábito. You can download it at http://tomjuranblogcom.blogspot.com/2011/02/jamelao.html

And what the hey, I can never get enough Jamelão. Here's another video of a dor de cotovelo song, Ela Disse-me Assim

09 January 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring

São as águas de março, 
fechando o verão ...

One thing I did know before moving to Brazil was the Tom Jobim song, Aguas de Março, the Waters of March, so I was expecting March to be the rainy month. Not so. Rains don't just mark the end of summer, as the song says. They mark summer's beginning as well. Year in, year out, there are heavy, tropical downpours in December and January, and the new climate phenomenon, La Niña, has, if anything, made matters worse. You'd think that, after last year's disaster, the civil defense authorities would have gotten themselves prepared for this year's rains. But whatever measures they did take have turned out to be totally inadequate.

Last year's rains, which peaked just one year ago, constituted the worst civil disaster in Brazil's history. A total of 918 people died, 30,000 or more lost their homes, and 215 are still considered missing. In other words, their bodies have never been recovered. The worst of the suffering took place not in some remote region of the Amazon but in the gorgeous Rio de Janeiro State mountain towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis and Petrópolis that, if our binoculars were more powerful, we could practically see out our window. By car, you can reach the closest of these towns in an hour and a half, and Mark and I have always enjoyed visiting those towns. We have friends up there in the mountains.

We watched last year's disaster unfold on television, and saw unbelievable acts of courage and heroism as neighbors helped neighbors, such as in the spine-tingling rescue in the video above. (Incredible how everything is filmed nowadays, even a catastrophe that caught everyone off guard.) But as I read today's O Globo I want to strangle someone. I want to scream, enough is enough. Why has so little been accomplished in one entire year? Why are so many people up there in the mountains still struggling to get their lives back in order? The paper today has been reminding us that the mayors, town councilmen and businessmen of these mountain towns stole the government's generous emergency funds in an unprecedented spectacle of fraud and profiteering. Even in Brazil, where corruption is so much a part of governing that people no longer pay attention to it, this disgusting revelation has shocked. The government is demanding the return of its 10 million reais, and I'm delighted to say the government's also been freezing the assets of the sleazeballs involved.

 Last year's disaster, but these pictures were just taken for today's paper. Disgraceful.

We have also been hearing these last days that, in an astounding display of arrogant political piggishness, 90% of the government's emergency anti-flood funds for this year have been diverted to just one state, Pernambuco (a state generally plagued by drought) which also happens to be the home state of the minister charged with distributing the monies. This goes a long way to explaining why state civil defense authorities weren't prepared for the floods and landslides happening right now in southeastern Brazil. The worst of the current catastrophe is in the state of Minas Gerais, where 99 cities are in a state of emergency, and about 12,000 people have lost their homes. The final disposition of the monies sent to Pernambuco is, believe it or not, in limbo. The government wants it back. Pernambuco wants to keep it. If I were President Dilma I'd wring someone's neck.

Nothing bad happened to us personally here in Búzios last year, and nothing bad is happening to us this year either. We're just getting wet. We haven't had much of a taste of summer yet, haven't put away our blue jeans and gotten out our shorts. Since Christmas, all it's done is rain. It's been all rain, all the time, with just a few days of something akin to sun. And the ten-day forecast? It shows more rain. We can't help but think about those people still suffering after one year, and the ones suffering right now.

05 January 2012

Stupid Purchases

I've made a lot of stupid purchases in my life. We all have. From a dress I fell in love with in the store's dressing room but which remains in my closet, never worn, to a massaging back pillow that broke after one use. I've bought any number of pairs of shoes that fit beautifully when I tried them on but which gave me blisters every time I wore them. I've bought cosmetics that the salesgirl convinced me were the perfect thing for me but which caused allergies once I started using them regularly. I've bought lampshades that don't fit the lamps for which they were meant, subscriptions to magazines nobody ever read. The list is endless. If you're lucky, you can return some products. If not, well, that's what re-gifting is all about.  

The most serious stupid purchase I ever made was a condominium apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. I bought the apartment just after meeting Mark, the man who I knew I was going to marry. So why did I go through with the purchase? I don't know, I was seemingly on an unstoppable course. I lived in that apartment for only about half a year before marrying and moving to New York City. I sold it at a loss and every time I think of that purchase I groan.

Laundry day, tenement style
Yet another stupid purchase — though not as costly as the apartment — was made together with Mark during our first week in Brazil. Along with other necessary appliances, we bought a clothes washer and its accompanying clothes dryer. A clothes dryer would seem like a normal purchase, no? Didn't think twice about it, even though the salesman questioned our buying the dryer. He tried to tell us we wouldn't need one. He tried to explain how everyone hangs their clothes on clotheslines to dry. "The sun is free," he said, in a last-ditch effort to save us the money. We thought he was out of his mind, we weren't going to have our house look like some tenement out of a Jacob Riis photograph. Of course we needed a dryer. You might say we were on an unstoppable course.

The first time I used the dryer the fuse blew. We bought a new, heavy-duty plug and it worked fine for a while, until we blew another fuse. We brought in an electrician who kicked a few tires and told us we'd have to install a separate, grounded electric line. But because our walls are of masonry, installing a new line would entail an enormous project of breaking walls, embedding new conduits, re-building the walls — my goodness, we had barely walked through the door of our new life and we were going to have to start tearing the house apart? No, we decided to hang the clothes on the line to dry — just as a stopgap measure — until we were ready to install a new electric line.

Rusted and pitted and useless
I wish we'd listened to our appliance salesman. We never installed that separate electric line. The only thing we use the dryer for is to pile things up on. Instead, like everyone else, we use the clothesline, which hangs discreetly alongside the house outside the service area, unseen from any point in the house except the kitchen. I've added a new dexterity with clothespins to my skill sets. And I wait like a pro for the perfect day, the one with a good, strong sun and enough wind to get the jeans flapping. Now if I could only find someone to take this dryer off our hands.

02 January 2012


Most every country has a national dish, its culinary pride and joy. What's Hungary without goulash, Austria without wiener schnitzel, Scotland without haggis? Of course, these dishes aren't prepared in an industrial kitchen from one master recipe. Tunisia has its couscous, which differs from Morocco's couscous and Algeria's couscous, and their ingredients change as you travel from region to region and city to city. Bouillabaisse is the pride of France — southern France, that is — and its ingredients have been and still are the subject of heated debate. The natives of bouillabaisse country scorn the Parisians for adding lobster to the stew; the Marseillais disapprove of the Toulonnais habit of adding mussels and potatoes; and purists are horrified by anyone who dares to add pastis. In neighboring Spain there are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. In the Valencia region, preparing paella is quite simply an act of civic pride.

Feijoada on the table
Feijoada on the plate
Brazil has feijoada, a dish as controversial as all of those above. Originally introduced by the Portuguese, this meat-and-bean-stew is prepared with black beans, various "throwaway" salted pork products such as ears, tail and feet, bacon, smoked pork ribs, pork sausage and tongue. It's generally served buffet style, and includes white rice, chopped kale, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and orange slices. In addition (in a real slap at the idea of healthy food) you can add side dishes of fried pork rinds, fried bananas and fried manioc. It's best washed down with lots of beer, cachaça or caipirinhas. A proper feijoada takes hours to cook and hours to eat, and most Brazilians prefer to eat theirs on a Saturday afternoon so as to have the rest of the weekend to recover.

The very first feijoada I ever ate was in New York City at a wannabe-Brazilian restaurant called the Coffee Shop. In retrospect, the feijoada served at the Coffee Shop had very little in common with the real thing. Instead of a bottomless buffet, we were served delicate individual portions of recognizable "noble" meats, with some rice, beans, kale and prettily-arranged orange slices. I think the next one I ate was in Rio, at a place called Casa da Feijoada. Located in the neighborhood of Ipanema and serving mainly tourists and well-heeled Brazilians, this feijoada also had little in common with the real McCoy. The meats were succulent and edible, a sure sign of unreliability. As I started eating more authentic, homemade versions of this national dish I started learning about the controversies surrounding it. Cooks were very competitive. They kept their recipes close to their chests. And I remember one odd night in Salvador, Bahia when a friend of ours explained at great length why he was not serving us feijoada. Something about how the flavor of his bean broth hadn't yet reached the perfection he sought.
I've now had my share (and I'm very, very sorry to say, my fill as well) of authentic feijoadas. Before Mark and I moved to Brazil, when we were just frequent visitors, we were constantly served feijoadas by Brazilians who wanted us to have a real Brazilian experience. But please forgive me, my Brazilian friends, I know that what I'm about to say is heresy. I don't want feijoada anymore. I don't really like feijoada. I do not feel good after such a heavy meal. And I can do without the pig's ear. Serve it all to Mark instead. He still likes it. But just so you know that there are no hard feelings on my part, here's Chico Buarque singing his famous samba Feijoada Completa: