Random Fact of the Day: I have lived in Brazil on two separate occasions.
The first time I lived in Rio de Janeiro, about two blocks and a canal away from Ipanema. My dad was a troubleshooter for a multinational accounting firm, so we were transferred there. I spent my junior high (6th-8th grade) years here. I learned to speak Portuguese by watching the dubbed versions of "Hogan's Heroes," "The Six Million Dollar Man," and the "Monkees" (for the record, Lee Majors sounded sexier in Portuguese). I had a blast living there. Well, except for the times when I was locked up in the apartment during Carnival, while my parents and older sister went out to party. I managed to have fun anyway, staying up all night watching the parades on TV, making mini-pizzas in the toaster oven, and climbing up on top of the washing machine so I could watch the sunrise.
The second time I moved in Brazil, I lived in Sao Paulo with my (then) husband, a Brazilian citizen (but Taiwanese national). To this day, I describe that city as New York City on steroids. It is huge...ginormous even. In the sixteen years that I was away, Brazil had changed quite a bit. Satellite/cable TV had arrived and I could watch shows in English (with subtitles). I no longer had to bring American food in my suitcase (or cozy up to the military kids for PX contraband); if I wanted Ruffles, I could just go down to the corner store and get them. McDonald's seemed to be everywhere, which was kind of amazing to me, since my sister played in the band for the opening of the very first McDonald's in Brazil. They infiltrated the nation in less than seventeen years. In some ways, I found that development to be kind of sad. On one hand, life is easier for the expatriate, but on the other hand, they miss out on so much. I taught in an American school and couldn't help feeling bad for the other American teachers. Some of them only hung out with Americans, went home to watch TV in English, and barely ate Brazilian food. Boy, they missed out on so much.
Why am I babbling on incessantly about Brazil today? Because of this post in the Technicolor Kitchen, a blog written in both Portuguese and English. When I read it, I end up missing all the foods I used to eat, or else I start saying, "Hey, I remember that!" She has some recipes for things I love to eat (but am too lazy to make), like empadinhas and pastel. Today's post made me want to jump on a plane and head back to Brazil. Pudim de leite (condensed milk custard) is a lot like creme caramel/caramel custard, but denser. It is also one of my all time favorite desserts. Unfortunately, I can't eat it for a while (diet), so I end up drooling over it and writing about Brazil.