Saturday, February 2, 2019

Carnaval sem Cachaça?

I visit Brazil only infrequently these days but, when I've done so it’s usually the border town of Foz do Iguaçu because it’s been part of my beat when writing guidebooks about Argentina. After foreigners see the Argentine side of the famous falls, they almost always cross the Tancredo Neves bridge to see them from the Brazilian side.
The Brazilian side of the Cataratas do Iguaçu (Iguazú Falls)
I once took an intensive summer course in Portuguese—the equivalent of a full year at university level—but it’s only my fourth-best language after English, Spanish and German. Brazilians have been remarkably patient when I lapse into Spanish cognates, though I don’t always understand their responses.
In Buenos Aires, Carnaval is a decentralized neighborhood phenomenon.
Montevideo's Museo del Carnaval depicts the origins of Uruguay's tradition.
I’ve traveled a bit in northern Brazil—Porto VelhoManausSalvador (Bahia) and Belém—but know the megacities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro only through their airports. That means I’ve missed the signature event of Brazilian Carnaval, though I’ve seen its counterpart in Argentina (where it’s experienced a neighborhood-oriented revival) and Uruguay (where it’s seriously under-appreciated by foreigners).
Moqueca de peixe is a flavorful fish dish.
I enjoy Brazilian food—particularly moqueca de peixe—and really appreciate the refreshing cachaça-based cocktail known as the caipirinha, made of cane liquor, lime and sugar. Brazilians themselves, though, probably consume far larger amounts of beer, especially during Carnaval.
Care for a caipirinha, Mr Mayor?
That is, unless Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella has his way. Somehow, Brazil’s liveliest party town elected this evangelical bishop to its highest office in 2017, and he has just asked that cariocas (Rio residents) refrain from drinking alcohol during Carnaval celebrations. He also embraces creationism, and objects to homosexuality and abortion rights.

If Mayor Crivella truly trusts in what he preaches, though, perhaps he could just pray that his constituents refrain from drinking during the festivities. Then again, his for-profit Universal Church of the Kingdom of God may well take a cut from alcohol sales.

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