Sunday, September 18, 2011
Blame It On Rio
It is true that I always start slowing down on the blog at this time of year, when I leave Little Compton to return to the start of a new academic year. This is always a busy time, but this year it has been a bit more hectic than usual. I moved, as you know, to Tucson, which means I moved to a new university. This is the ultimate figure-it-out-yourself challenge, in terms of information about, well, anything. I’m fine with that, but it’s rather time-consuming and inefficient; seems there could be at least a tiny guide to tell you things like: here’s how you find your roster. Or that you have to request a course site because they are not, in contrast to prior experience, set up automatically. Or, here’s where we moved your room or your course time without telling you.
But I digress. The thing that really set me back is that I went to Brazil the second week of classes, and it took a lot of time to prep others for my being away, and then to regroup when I got back. So my absence from the blog: blame it on Rio. But thank Rio for the photo-essay.
The purpose of my trip was to give an invited keynote/lecture at a conference, but who goes all that way (it was about 30 hrs of travel door to door) without a side trip at small marginal cost? Not me. If you have not been to Rio, it is beautifully situated. I was fortunate to have met some academics at the conference who lived in Rio and who insisted on arranging a real tour of the city beyond the beach, and arranging a dinner at a restaurant along the lake. It was very nice.
Of course, for me the highlight is always the street. I like to walk around, and to eat odds and ends as I go. I came across a wonderful farmer’s market one day, and rather overdid it. Here are some photos, plus a few from the famous Feira Hippie (hippie fair), where hearty Bahia food is served. The green drink is caldo de cana—pure sugar cane. As you sit there, they stuff huge sugar cane stalks into a machine sort of like a chipper (a la Fargo), which squeezes out the sugary insides and pops the empty skeletons out the back. Don’t try this at home; it looked dangerous. But the cold, iced green liquid was delicious and refreshing. Oddly, not super sweet, but smooth and vanilla-y tasting. The fried square is pastel de queijo (cheese in a pastry), and the big pancake thing is tapioca flour, sieved right there before it went into the pan, coconut, cheese, and sausage; that is mine in the frying pan on the right. Desserts in Brazil are excellent. Tropical fruits, eggs (flans, meringues), coconut, tapioca, and chocolate are common ingredients.
I will try to keep up the blog with all the good things here in Tucson.