Friday, 19 October 2012

Colloquialisms, Sayings, Slang

Vai catá coquinho! – Go gather little coconuts!
A playful/friendly way of saying “stop bothering me” and/or “f*** you”.

Vai plantar batata! – Go plant potatoes!
A playful/friendly way of saying “stop bothering me” and/or “f*** you”.

Vai chupá prego! – Go suck on a nail!
A playful/friendly way of saying “stop bothering me” and/or “f*** you”.

Vai caçar sapo com bodoque! – Go hunt frogs with a slingshot!
A playful/friendly way of saying “stop bothering me” and/or “f*** you”. I assume the idea is that hunting frogs with a slingshot takes a long time...?

Vai ver se eu tô lá na esquina! - Go see if I'm on the corner of the street!
A playful/friendly way of saying “stop bothering me” and/or “f*** you”.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

                                                          Beijinho (Little Kiss)

The most traditional version of the sweet (the one I'm posting the recepie for)

Another popular version of the sweet, where they rolled the sweet in coconut shreds instead.

Another common staple sweet at birthday parties. In my state they are also  known as "doce de leite Ninho" (Leite Ninho sweet), after the name of the brand of milk powder we often use.

  • 2 cups of powdered milk
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • About 1/2 a small container of coconut milk
  • Cloves

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients and slowly add the coconut milk until it has a soft but still firm consistency (you'll need to roll them).
  2. Roll the “dough” into balls. I usually scoop out a tablespoon but you can make them smaller or bigger if you want. Depends on your own preference.
  3. Roll the “dough” in sugar
  4. Stick in a clove on top of each ball so that only the little “flower” part sticks out.
    NOTE: You're not supposed to eat the clove – they're decorational pieces that give a touch of flavour to the sweet!

    You can add food colouring to the "dough in order to give the sweet funky colours, and mould the sweets into pretty much any shape you want. Here are some examples:

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Colloquialisms, sayings, Slang

Quem tem boca vai à Roma – Anyone with a mouth [can] go to Rome
The Brazilian equivalent of “he who asks shall receive” - NOT “all roads lead to Rome”. The idea is that anyone whith a mouth can ask for directions.

O que não mata engorda – That which doesn't kill you makes you fatter
The Brazilian version of “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger”.

Nós quem, cara-pálida? – Who's “we”, paleface?
A way of saying “Don't put me in the middle of this!”

Calma que o Brasil é nosso! - Calm [down], Brazil is ours [already]!
Somewhat equivalent to “Hold your horses!” and “Where's the fire?”. Used when anyone is rushing for no reason.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Money, Moolah, Cash

Notas (Notes)

The "old" R$10
Like with all the bank notes, this is in an intermediate state of getting changed. Theis is the new R$10:

All bank notes have the statue representation of the Republic shown in the the front.The animal in the back side of the note is an arara (macaw).

Monday, 1 October 2012

Colloquialisms, sayings, & Slang

Se correr o bicho pega, se ficar o bicho come – If you run the animal/creature will catch you, if you stay [still] the animal/creature will eat you
More or less the Brazilian equivalent of “stuck between a rock and a hard place” or “damned if you do, damned if you don't”. The idea is that either choice is equally bad.

No dia de São Nunca (de tarde) On the day of Saint Never (in the afternoon)
A way of saying something is never gonna happen. It's usually used as a reply to a question (eg. “So, mom, when am I gonna be allowed to drive your car?”). Brazil is primarily Christian, so this is referring to saint days, which are the days each saint is officially supposed to be celebrated.

Bater ponto - Literally, "to hit the point/dot"
Originally this was a term that meant “to get your time-card punched in” back when you logged in your time at work by getting the time stamped on a paper card. Nowadays it tends to mean “to keep someone informed”, as in letting your parents know where you are if you're going to be out late. (eg. "Lembra de bater ponto se você for atrasar, viu?" - Remember to check in/let me know if you''re going to be late, alright?)

Friday, 28 September 2012

What's Cookin'?

Brigadeiro (Brigadier)

Brigadeiro is a staple sweet in Brazil. It is the most recognized birthday party sweet. 

A brigadeiro in the little paper "cup" most party sweets in Brazil are placed in.

Brigadeiro being made - a metal spoon works fine, but wooden spoons don't warm up as much or as fast,
so they're preferable so you don't end up burning yourself
The chocolate powder most used to make it in Brazil is Nescau (for a picture of what the can looks like check out my Breakfast post). The most commonly used condensed milk is Leite Moça (it's called Milk Maid in the US, I think). 

Really, any brand works for any of the ingredients, these are just the most popularly used. In Canada the chocolate powder I use as a substitute is Nesquik.

  • 1 cup of chocolate powder
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1 can of cream
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Sprinkles (for rolling the sweets in)
  1. Put a pan on the stove and put in the cream, condensed milk, and butter. Once they start to warm up pour in the chocolate powder as you mix so you get it evenly distributed. You can pour the chocolate in before it's started to warm up, but it's easier to mix it in evenly this way.

  2. Keep on mixing it until it thickens. The average time is about ten minutes. A neat way to check if the “dough” is ready is to pour a bit of cold water in a cup/bowl and place a tiny dollop of it in. Wait til it cools a bit so you don't burn yourself then try to roll it into a little ball. If you manage to do that and it doesn't crumble into the water then it's ready.

  3. Wait for it to cool (you can cheat and put it in the fridge to cool it faster – I do!) then scoop up about a tablespoon and roll them into balls. The size doesn't actually matter – it depends on your preference, really.

  4. Roll the balls on your preference of sprinkles. You can use any type you want. The most common are the ones shown, but you can use sprinkles with shapes, regular sugar, shredded coconut, almond/nut slices, M&M's...

Money, Moolah, Cash

Notas (Notes)


Brazil used to have a R$ 1 bank note with a Hummingbird in the back but it was discontinued in 2005. You can still find it in circulation, but it's becoming rarer. The hummingbird is common through all of South America, and Brazil has over 100 native species.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Money, Moolah, Cash

Moedas (Coins)

 R$ 0,10 

On the coroa side: Dom Pedro I stride his horse representing the historical moment known as “Grito do Ipiranga” (The Shout from the Ipiranga). It was the moment where D. Pedro I stood on the banks of the river Ipiranga and declared Brazil's independence.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Educate Yourself!

Preschool is optional, and is referred to as "Educação Infantil" ([Early] Childhood Education).

Elementary or Primary is known as "Educação Fundamental" (Basic Education).

Middle School or Secondary School lasts 3 years, and is known as "Educação Secundária". 

A grade or year used to be called a "série" (which is also our word for "series", by the way). The education system was recently changed and they are now officially referred to as "anos" (years). This change was rather new, so you'll likely hear a number of people refer to grades as séries. 

I'm a 90's kid, and grew up going to segunda série (Grade 2), etc. As far as I know it was still called a série when I moved to Canada in 2001. That's how recent the change is.

Homeschooling is not an option in Brazil, to ensure no kids are being kept home to work.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Food, Glorious Food...

It's Tradition!

Traditional foods in Brazil vary greatly from area to area. So much so that you can often tell where one is from by what traditional foods the start naming off.


A paste made with corn and milk that is wrapped in corn husks and boiled into a a dumpling. May have filling, or may not. Once it's boiled it has a solid (yet somewhat crumbly) consistency.

What Pamonha looks like inside the husk

Newly made pamonhas

Mandioca frita

Fried cassava. Cassava is a type of tuber root not unlike a potato. It's a popular vegetable in Brazilian cuisine in many ways, one of the most popular being fried cassava. (Cassava is sometimes also known as manioc).
Raw cassava cut up  and piled for the supermarket

Fried cassava

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Money, Moolah, Cash

Moedas (Coins)

In Brazil the sides of the coins are known as cara (face) and coroa (crown). They're equivalent to “heads” and “tails” in English.

In the late '90s the Real coins were given a revamp, and the new style/pictures were chosen by the general population in a contest made by Brazil's national bank (Banco Central do Brasil).

R$ 0,5 

On the coroa side: Tiradentes, with the flag from his revolt in the background. 

Tiradentes is considered to be a martyr for the independence of Brazil. He was a leader in a revolt to become independent from Portugal and when it failed he was publicly hanged.

 The flag from his revolt is now the flag of the state of Minas Gerais. 

His nickname, Tiradentes (Teeth Remover), is due to the fact that he was a dentist.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Better Safe Than Sorry

If ever in Brazil (or any tropical place for that matter) there are some safety tips northerners - and by that I mean anyone who lives in the northern hemisphere in general – don't seem to be aware of.

Dealing with potentially poisonous creatures (mainly insects and arachnids).

To anyone in the tropics this will seem like a stupid thing to point out, but you must never ever put your hand into a dark place (eg mail box) without looking first. The tropics are rife with insect and arachnid life, and nice dark spots are their favourite hiding places. That isn't to say you will always find a bug (let alone a poisonous one) poised to pounce on unwary victims, but it is a very real possibility. And that doesn't mean you should wear gloves every time you get the mail, but rather remember to take a quick peek first just to be safe.

You also should never rummage around woodpiles/rubble/etc without being very careful for the same reason. A nice woodpile is a spider's and scorpion's best friend. Which again isn't to say that there will be anything to worry about hiding in there, but it's better to be careful than have to make a panicked mad dash to a hospital.
    - Note: a good rule of thumb to guess how poisonous a scorpion is is “the bigger the scorpion the less poisonous they tend to be”. That's because they will generally gely on their pincers for hunting and defence. If you ever do get stung it's best to hurry over to a hospital just to be safe. The scorpion being big just means you probably don't need to panic about dying within the next five minutes, not that you should just shrug and go back to business as usual.
With that being said, even after it's dead a scorpion's sting is still poisonous

If you're in the country (as in “not in a city”, not as in “the country of Brazil”) it's always a good idea to shake out closed shoes (eg sneakers) before putting them on, just in case someone came across it when you weren't looking and thought it looked like a neat place to spend the night in.

Remember, when you run into these creatures their point of view is that they are in their home and you are the intruder. Always show them due respect, no matter whether that might truly be the case.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Educate Yourself!

Education in Brazil is a Federal domain.

In Brazil kids in elementary usually only go to school for half the day. You're either part of the morning class or the afternoon class.

Teachers in Brazil are known by their first name, never their surname. Calling someone Mr./Ms. Surname is considered extremely formal. This goes for all levels of teaching, including university. The closest we come to that is adding Mr./Ms. before an elderly person's name, and even then it's not an absolute you-will-be-shunned-for-not-doing-it must (eg I called the co-principals of my school in Kindergarten/Grade 1 Dona Otília and Senhor Daniel, but that was because they were both well in their seventies/eighties).

A class (especially Primary) is often referred to as a "turma" (usually translated as "gang" but with the modern connotations of gang turma is actually closer to "team"). You would use it to say something like "Eu sou da turma da tarde, a turma da Marlene" (I'm in the afternoon class, the class [taught by] Marlene).

When not using the teacher's first name students often call their teachers “professor/professora” (teacher). The word is often also shortened to “Fessor/Fessora”.

Recess is called "recreio". 

There are three interchangeable words for homework: 
- Dever de casa (literally, home duty)
- Lição de casa" (literally, home lesson)
- Para casa (literally, for home)

Graduation from High School is not considered a big deal. The graduation that gets all the praise and cool gifts is graduating university. 

Colégio does not mean college. It is another word for escola (school). (Eg. Colégio Santo Agostinho merely means "Saint Augustine School").

There is no distinction between college and university in Brazil. They are both known as universidade (university). 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Colloquialisms, sayings, Slang

O que não mata engorda - What doesn't kill you fattens you. 
The Brazilian equivalent of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Engordar literally means "to become fatter", or "to fatten". 

(Pegar) dois coelhos com uma cajadada só - (To get) two rabbits with a single club
The Brazilian equivalent of "to get two birds with one stone". Except that instead of stoning birds to death one is clubbing rabbits to death instead. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Oh, What's In a Name?

I've heard people get confused over why Latinos have two last names. Here's the thing. We don't have two last names. We have two sobrenomes, or surnames. You get one of your mom's and one of your dad's in any combination they prefer.

This is how it works:

Let's say Bob and Sally had a baby. They name that baby Fred. That's his nome (name). I guess they decided not to give Fred a segundo nome (second name), which in English is known as a middle name.

Now, Sally's is Sally Smith Anderson, and Bob's is Bob Williams Jones. 

This means that baby Fred could be named any of the following combinations Bob and Sally like best:

Fred Jones Smith
Fred Smith Jones
Fred Anderson Jones
Fred Jones Anderson
Fred Smith Williams
Fred Williams Smith
Fred Williams Anderson
Fred Anderson Williams

This means that whatever two sobrenomes his parents choose are both legally his surname, and he can use either one by itself or the two together.

Here's a real life example with Latino names:

My father's surnames are "de Oliveira" and "Flecha". My mom's is "Braga" and "Espeschit".

They then decided that the combination they liked was "Espeschit Flecha". This means that in Brazil I can say my sobrenome is "Espeschit", "Flecha", or "Espeschit Flecha", and they are all legally true.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Culturally Cultured

                                     The Personal Bubble

Anglo-Saxons (and perhaps other cultures I am unaware of) have this thing called "The Personal Bubble". If you've ever lived in the UK and/or North America you have probably heard of this. You might even be rolling your eyes and thinking "Duh! Who hasn't?"

Brazilians, that's who. 

Well, I think it's safe to say that to Latinos in general this is about one of the strangest, most alien concepts ever. We're a very touchy, grabby kind of people. We hug, kiss, lean on each other, and unceremoniously sit on friend's laps if there's a lack of space in an almost subconscious level, because to us this is no big deal. 

Eleven years after moving to Canada and my mom still has to constantly remind herself not to touch someone's shoulder when apologizing for running into them.

We most certainly never say "excuse my reach". Why would you, if there's no "personal bubble" to infringe the boundary of?

If you see someone leaning on a person of the opposite sex it doesn't necessarily have a sexual connotation. If you're tired and there's a friend handy to rest your head on their shoulder then why not? (Of course, this has a bit of a double standard - girls leaning on boys is normal, girls leaning on girls is normal, and a guy leaning on a guy can get you weird looks. Sorry, boys). Don't get surprised if people brush by you without instantly apologizing or stick out their arm right in front of your face to grab something without so much as a "by your leave".

Brazilians have no qualms about standing within what would be considered a "personal bubble", especially in more crowded situations. Which isn't to say you shouldn't tell off a stranger for feeling you up or standing too close. Just be aware that the more acquainted you are with someone the less they will think of staying out of what you might consider to be "personal space".

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Money, Moolah, Cash

Brazil's current currency is the Real (plural: Reais), and its decimal form is centavo(s) - the Portuguese word for cents. It's symbol is R$.

In Portuguese "real" can mean both "royal" and "real", depending on the situation.

In Brazil the use of commas and decimals are the opposite of that in North America (but the same as in most of Europe, I believe).

So if a book costs costs five Reais and twenty five centavos it would look like this: R$ 5,25

Brazil has 6 bank note values and 5 coin values.

All coins (5, 10, 25, and 50 cents as well as a R$ 1 coin) are commonly used. 
The most commonly used bank notes are R$ 2, R$ 5, R$ 10, R$20, and R$ 50.

Just like English has its slang for money (moolah, cash, etc), Portuguese has it too. The most common are "grana" and "dim dim". Other slangs include "cobre" (copper), "prata" (silver), "Mango" (somewhat equivalent to the use of "bucks" or "quid"), and "bufunfa".

"Trocado" is slang for small change.
"Troco" is is the change you receive when you're buying something, so depending on what you're buying the change can very well be big.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

                                                  Food, Glorious Food...
Almoço - Lunch

Lunch is the most important meal of the day. The overall content of what one is eating varies, but the staple lunch food is rice, beans, and some type of protein (usually meat or a fried egg or something). 

We often have a little dish of “batata palha” (straw potato) on the table to add to the rice (it's also popular on stroganoff). Batata palha is comprised of thinly cut potatoes that are then fried into matchstick-thin potato sticks. They're similar to Hickory Sticks. 

Batata palha
There are many traditional meals that are also commonly eaten for lunch.

Colloquialisms, sayings, & Slang

Póde ir tirando o cavalinho da chuva! - You can go take your horsie out of the rain!
An exclamation meaning “forget about it! It ain't hapening!”

Bom dia flor do dia! - Good day flower of the morning!
The Brazilian equivalent of “mornin' sunsine!”

Food, Glorious Food...

Dietary habits vary from area to area, and this does not hold true to all of Brazil, or even all of an area. But for the most part, this is what the first meal of the day is like:

Café da manhã (Morning Coffee) - Breakfast

Unlike in North America, it is the lightest meal of the day. It usually consists of bread and butter and a cup of coffee or chocolate milk, sometimes juice.


Coffee has three levels of “strength”. I don't mean this taste-wise (though the flavour is affected), but rather how much coffee you put into the cup.

The weakest is “Pindago” (dripped). It has very little coffee, and is mostly milk. This is the kiddie version of coffee, with just enough to get the kids used to the bitter taste of the drink.

Next is “café-com-leite” (coffee with milk). It has a lot more coffee, but is still somewhat diluted due to the milk. Many people drink this in the morning instead of straight-up coffee.

The last is, of course, plain black coffee - café preto.


Our breakfast bread is not sliced bread. It's like an itty bitty mini loaf we call “pão de sal” (literally, bread of salt).

It looks like this:

Many of our sandwiches are made with this type of bread instead of sliced bread as well.

Chocolate Milk

We have two traditional brands: Nescau, and Toddy. In Brazil chocolate milk is not a drink just for kids. Adults may not usually drink it as much as children, but it's not embarrassing to drink a glass of Nescau or Toddy in the morning like it seems to be in North America.   

Coming soon... Lunch!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Okay. I've never blogged before, so I have no idea how this is gonna go. The idea of this blog is to talk about Brazil - it's culture, language, and colloquial language, as well as anything anyone is wondering about.

I'll start this post with some basic introduction to Brazilian folklore, as some of it is very different from the traditional more commonly known European stories. We do have the Grimm stories as well, although some details and character names are different.

We have more characters than specific stories about them, although they are often included in pop culture, such as the classic Monteiro Lobato children's book series “Sítio do Pica-Pau Amarelo” (The Yellow Woodpecker Ranch) or in the wildly popular Turma da Mônica comic books, both of which I will blog about at a later date.

Keep in mind details in folklore vary from area to area – these are the versions I grew up hearing about. If you ask someone from a diferent state or even a diferent family from the same city some of the details of these creatures could vary, and both versions are equally correct.

Also, I am aware some of these may not be all that politically correct nowadays. But folklore is folklore. It's old and doesn't make all that much sense half the time, let alone follow political correctness.


Boitatá is a giant snake made of fire that lives in rivers and punishes anyone who sets fire to forests.

Two representations of  Boitatá


Literally, “The Stomper”. She is a mean old woman spirit that stomps on people's bellies as they sleep and thus gives them bad dreams and causes them to sleep badly. 

                    A Cuca

The Cuca is somewhat equivalent to the European boogeyman (though the official translation of boogeyman is “bicho papão”). She is a witch/spirit monster that steals away bad children and takes them to her lair to eat them. She is described as looking like an alligator or reptilian creature of similar appearance. It is a recurring antagonist in Monteiro Lobato's classic stories, which I will go into further detail some other time. 

The Cuca from the Sítio tv series

                                                                            A Mula-Sem-Cabeça

Literally, “The Headless Mule”. She is a woman who laid with a (Catholic) priest and is thus cursed by God to remain a monster as punishment. They are depicted as being a headless mule that has fire blazing out of where the head should be. One can break the curse by successfully putting a bridle on her – though how one is meant to do that when there is no head to put the bridle on I have no idea. They are said to roam the countryside at night searching for unlucky travellers to haunt.

                                                        Iara/Mãe D'Água

The Turma da Mônica rendition of Iara

Mãe D'Água means "Mother of the Water(s)". Iara is a mermaid who rules over the rivers and is the protector of streams and rivers as well as the creatures that live within it and near it. Like most mermaids, she enchants men and then drags them down to the watery depths to their death.                                                           
Iara charming her victim

The Caipora is a nature spirit similar to Curupira. It rides a wild pig and protects the forest animals. Like Curupira, it is angered by over-hunting and poaching.

Caipora from the 1990's TvCultura children's show
Castelo Rá-Tim´Bum

                                              Saci Pererê

The Saci is the most symbolic folklore creature in Brazil. He's a mischievous trickster that likes to cause trouble, like braiding a horse's mane or making milk go sour. He looks like a young black boy with only one leg who wears a red cap and likes to smoke a pipe. The Saci travels inside a mini tornado-like dust cloud. You van capture it by throwing a strainer or sieve into the dust cloud. Once you have captured the Saci you must take away his red cap. While it is in your possession the Saci must do what you tell him. Recently the 31rst of October was made “Dia do Saci” (Saci Day).

This version is from a famous comic strip series in Brazil 
called "Turma do Pererê" by cartoonist Ziraldo.

                                                                                        O Boto

A Boto seducing a young woman.
Literally, “The Porpoise”. The Boto is somewhat similar to the Irish Selkies. He is a porpoise by day and at night becomes a handsome young man, who then goes into town and seduces young women. You can tell a Boto from a human because they always wear a hat to hide the blowhole that remains in the middle of their forehead as a remnant from their porpoise shape.

                                                 O Curupira

The Curupira is a nature spirit in charge of caring for the forest. He looks like a little boy, except his hair is made of fire and his feet are on backwards. They are neutral towards humans if you are hunting for food, as hunting like this is part of nature. If you are poaching, however, or hunting merely for sport, the Curupira is a being you most definitely want to avoid. The feature of his backwards feet is important because he uses his feet to make tracks leading away from the animals and right into danger, such as cliffs or bogs.

                                              O Lobisomem

Literally, “The Werewolf”. “Lobis” is derived from “Lobo” (wolf) and “homem” (man). Actually, the English equivalent is the same but in reverse: “Were” is an old word for “man”, and “wolf”... well, that's pretty self explanatory. In Brazil they are usually depicted as the European werewolf, such as Lobi in the Turma da Mônica comics. 

Lobi, the werewolf from Turma da Mônica's  spinoff comic series Turma do Penadinho.
However, the Brazilian traditional “werewolf” is a giant pig, with ears that cover its face. It might seem silly, but this probably comes from countryside areas where they raise very large pigs, which are indeed very vicious and will readily kill any children (and the occasional adult) who happen to fall into their pen.
No matter whether depicted as a wolf or pig a werewolf is always the seventh son born to a family with six daughters.

This is the only creature that I know a specific folk story about. I was told this tale by my friend's mom, whose family comes from a little town near our city. It goes more or less like this:

Once upon a time a family who had six daughters had a son. As such, he was a werewolf. He was not aware of this, since his eldest sister had died before he was born.

Every full moon he would sneak out of the house, hang his clothes on a peg by the pig pen and jump in. He would roll around in the straw, and become a giant, vicious pig with ears so big they flopped over its eyes, and all you could see was its gaping maw of glistening teeth. It would roam the countryside, eating any creature unlucky enough to cross its path.

His wife was also unaware of his condition. One day, she went to visit a friend for the day and took her infant son with her. She ended up staying longer than expected.

Stay the night,” her friend offered, “It'll be dark soon.”

But the woman declined, sure she could get home safely. She left, and she was three thirds of the way home when she heard a rustling noise up ahead. When she called out, no one answered, but the noise staedily got closer and closer. Suddenly, she saw it: a giant ferocious pig was running straight at her.

She quickly swaddled her son to her back and ran to the nearest tree, climbing as fast as she could. As she did so, however, her son started to slip from the sling. She realized this a moment too late, and could only watch in horror as her son fell from her back and straight into the pig's awaiting jaws. The pig stayed surrounding the tree until near daybreak, when it turned and ran back the way it had come.

She waited until daylight before climbing down, wondering how on Earth she was going to tell her husband about their son's death. When she arrived home her husband greeted her at the door. When she looked up, he was smiling at her. In between two of his teeth was a wisp of red flannel, just like the one she had bundled up their son in the night before.”

If you think that story's creepy now imagine hearing it for the first time at age 8, in the dark, with only a flashlight. O.o;;;

Alright, there we go. My first ever blog post. I feel so proud....