Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Rainy Day and Monday

Curitiba gets about 55.4 inches of rainfall a year. That's about 4.6 inches a month.
The Rule-of-Thumb seems to be:
Never go anywhere without an umbrella.
Never let a little rain stop you.

So, doing just that, we bought tickets for the Sierra Verde Express last week - realizing that we could be doing this during rain or shine. It had rained all day Sunday and throughout the night, but when we woke up on Monday...
...it was just wet!

This is the train ride we took with the Browns back in January -  through the Atlantic Rainforest and into the historic towns of Morretes and Antonina. (This time, however, we opted for the English speaking guide.) 
(It started out a little damp and chilly.)

Weather rain, clouds, or sunshine, the scenery is beautiful. And, because the train goes soooo slow, you can even stick your head out the window for a better photo.

For lunch it was the typical dish of the region - barreado - served with rice, cassava flour and sliced bananas on top. If you're not a fan of this "stew", then fish and shrimp are served as accompaniments.

The coast is much warmer than Curitiba, so we were able to shed some of our outerwear.😀 
Morretes↑  Antonina↓

So the lesson to be learned is that Rain or Shine you can still have a good time!
(Especially if you do it with good friends like Wayne and Dianne!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Feira do Largo da Ordem

This week took us to the 
Feira do Largo do Ordem.
Known to be one of the largest street fairs in Latin America, this is a very beloved weekend attraction for tourists and locals alike.  
Every Sunday, come rain or shine, there it is! (I know, the fact that it is held on Sunday is very unfortunate.) 
This is an enormous outdoor market where you can find a little of everything: paintings, carvings, embroidery, knitting, jewelry, baskets, slippers, handbags, flowers, tablecloths, bonsai, rugs, dolls, antiques, and many “et ceteras”. All this among the colorful houses and buildings and historic churches.
So...after church, feeling a little guilt, we hopped on the bus and headed to Largo da Ordem.
One must be careful not to unleash the obsessive-compulsive shopping disorder. Everything is so cheap, so easy, so quick, and so pretty.
We seemed to be a bit overdressed for the event. 

Besides the sites, there were the sounds. 
Yes, Elvis is alive and well in Brazil!

Like any good outdoor crafts fair that is worth visiting, the Largo da Ordem street market has a large “food court”.  
I'm not exactly sure what we ate, but it was good.

In this section of town you will also find the Curitiba Mosque.
According to the Islamic culture, the mosque faces the northeast toward the holy city of Mecca. Visitors can go inside if they take off their shoes at the entrance. Women are offered a headscarf which must be worn inside the mosque. The floor is covered with original Persian carpets.
Since we didn't buy one of those books, that's about all the information I can give you.

We found out yesterday that the Wernecks will be returning to their home to take care of some unresolved health issues. We will miss them and we wish them well. 
We were able to enjoy one last chá with them. 

P.S. If anyone asks, we are still very busy working in the temple. 😊

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

All their bags are packed. They're ready to go!

Change is good. Right? 
This week we say good-bye to
 the Parrelas
 (Adalton & Delgia) 

They will be returning home to Florianopolis on Thursday. We will miss them a lot. We will miss their enthusiasm, stories, wheelings and dealings, humor, and dedication to the Lord.

Friday was our last "triple" date night. We let Adalton pick the place since we were also celebrating his birthday.
Since he's Brazilian and loves to eat, guess where we ended up?

He was a very happy birthday boy!!

And now for your
Word of the Week
(Also known as the Brazilian Grape Tree) 
Found in Southern Brazil, this has got to be one of the weirdest trees in the world. The grape-like fruit grows directly on its trunk instead of on its branches. The fruit looks like big purple grapes. The "natives" think that Jubuticaba fruit is delicious! 

The fruit does taste a little bit like a grape. And just like a grape, all you do is put one in your mouth and bite down to pop it open. The soft pulp is sweet and delicious. If you chew the skin you will find it is quite acidic. (I can vouch for that!) Many people find the skin a bit tough and spit it out along with the seeds. (A very smart idea!)
I am really glad I got to try this unusual fruit, but I probably won't miss it that much when I go home.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

General Conference Weekend

I always look forward to General Conference weekends. It's even better in Brazil because that means all the talks will be in English, don't cha know! 
No need to struggle with all that Portuguese.

Anyway, our weekend began on Friday night with a dinner/dance sponsored by the Young Men and Young Women. 
We had a great time and the food was delicious. We left before the real dancing began.

We could sleep in on Saturday and Sunday because our GC times were not until 1:00, 5:00, and 9:00 (for the Priesthood Session). 
Sadly, no matter how many treats Don gathered, he just couldn't stay awake for every single talk

What a wonderful two days - filled with the Spirit. I love our Church leaders and the messages they shared. Some of my favorite quotes from these two days include (in no particular order):


I know I will find more favorite quotes when I am able to reread these talks in the Ensign next month. Until then....what did you find most meaningful and helpful for you for these next six months?

Our Spiritual Feast was then followed with a little food feast prepared by Dianne. We missed our families but this was a good substitute!

Now, may we take what we have learned
GO & DO!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Food Glorious Food

Brazil has a wonderful variety of traditional foods - with an interesting mix of European, African, and Asian influences.

Many of their traditional dishes contain fish, meat, tropical fruits, rice, beans, and manioc flour. In fact, many Brazilians feel that no meal is complete without rice and beans. French fries are also very popular.
 This is an example of what most Brazilians consider to be a decent lunch - the biggest meal of the day.

We've had a chance to try a lot of food these past nine months. Some are hits. Some are misses. 

When we first got here, my favorite place to eat was the "Buffet Á Kilo"
where you could choose what you would like, pile it onto your plate and then have it weighed to see how much it cost.
(This gave me the option of tasting a little bit of everything - at least the stuff that looked good).

Other "culinary delights" followed.
Some of our favorites include...

This is actually considered the national dish of Brazil. It's a thick stew of black beans with pieces of beef and pork added to it, served with shredded kale, rice, farofa (the stuff that looks like sawdust) and a slice of orange.

(Feijoada is such a heavy dish that it is only eaten maybe once a week and the only recommended activity after eating is napping. Don finds this to be a very satisfying nap - I mean meal.)

Pão de queijo
(cheese bread)
These are little balls of bread with cheese baked in it. They are crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. These are a staple at our monthly FHE nights!
Love these little guys!

Coxinhas & Pastéis
The coxinhas are the little raindrops in the picture below. They are usually filled with chicken and a very creamy cheese called "catupiry."

Pastéis are the same idea only with less dough and more options for the fillings. We like the chicken, catupiry, and corn pastel. For dessert, apple or banana - or even chocolate - filling. 

I know, they are both super unhealthy, but they sure are yummy. If you're looking for healthy, try...

This looks like a crepe but it's made out of tapioca flour that comes from the manioc root. When you fry this sticky powder in a frying pan, the heat turns it into a stiff, crepe-like crust which can then be filled with savory or sweet fillings; everything from cheese and meat, to bananas and chocolate. We first had them for breakfast with egg, ham, tomato and oregano at a hotel on Ilha do Mel but have since had them here in Curitiba. 

(pronounced ah-sah-ee)
In North America it’s a new “wonder berry,” but Brazilians have known about this little purple delicacy for ages. It’s a super favorite, eaten like a frozen treat. Heads up - it's a lot better if you add stuff to it! I like it with fruit and sweetened condensed milk. Don doesn't like it 
(Beware. It does turn your mouth purple!)
Brazilian pizza is actually called "Portuguese Pizza". Who knew?! Anyway, we have a wonderful pizza place in our neighborhood (Abaré) and visit it probably way too often. Pizza in Brazil always has a very thin crust. They use slices of tomato instead of the abundant tomato sauce on pizza in the U.S.
Brazilians are a bit more creative with their pizzas than Americans are, and the diverse local ingredients and flavors of Brazil show up on the pizzas. Toppings as varied as hearts of palm, catupiry cheese, fresh corn, fresh herbs, mashed potatoes, raw tuna, onions, hard boiled eggs, grilled sausages, potato sticks, and curried chicken with coconut milk are mixed with more traditional toppings like olives, ham, bacon, oregano, mozzarella, and tomatoes. 
BTW - Brazilians eat pizza with silverware; if you do that in the U.S., others look at you like you're from another planet.

A Brazilian pizza feast would not be complete without a delicious dessert pizza. Plantains, bananas, chocolate, "dulce de leche" ("doce de leite" in Portuguese), strawberries, cooked apples, nutella, guava paste, cream cheese, whipped cream and even ice cream are all potential toppings that are served on a thin, bread-like crust. Often the toppings are placed decoratively, arranged in pretty patterns to make a festive party dessert.
Brazilians love a good churrasco. You can find churrascarias everywhere! These are restaurants serving grilled meat (all you can eat) with the waiters moving around the restaurant with the skewers, slicing meat onto your plate. 
For Don, dining doesn't get much better than this!!

Brazil is one of the top fruit producing countries in the world. Some of the most common type of fruits are; mango, guava, cashew fruit, pineapple, passion fruit, orange and plum, star fruit, bananas of all shapes and sizes, and more. They also grow delicious melons. 

Interestingly, they don't have a lot of vegetables to choose from.

Clockwise, starting with the cake - Brazilian cakes (bolos) can by kind of dry, but many have a mousse or dulce de leche (creamy caramel sauce made from condensed milk) filling which makes the cake more moist and extra sweet. I love the corn cake (bolo de fubá). It's sweet, savory, and delicious. It has a creamy corn texture with a delicious warm condensed milk glaze to top it off. Next, the bonbon is a brigadeiro. It is a soft chocolate sweet made with condensed milk and cocoa. It is present at every Brazilian birthday party. Then comes carrot cake (bolo de cenoura) which is so different from our carrot cakes. Made in a blender, like the corn cake, it is smooth and mild with a chocolate glaze. And, lastly, the ever popular flan (pudin) made with - what else - condensed milk. 

Yay & Nay
One of our favorite places to eat on Friday nights is the park (parque). You can find all kinds of food there - Japanese, Portuguese, Mexican, Italian, American, you name it. We go there often.
Another plus is the party atmosphere that surrounds the place. 
A definite two thumbs up. 

One week, however, Elder Parrela convinced us to all that we needed to go to the mall and have McRib sandwiches at McDonald's. 
Who can guess how many thumbs this adventure got?!
Up or down?