Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Warning: NSFW, err, V

[Not safe for work vegetarians]

First, I’m cheating. I just submitted this piece to Galavanting – but I did edit it for you, at least.
But, second, if you keep scrolling down you’ll find a bonus post. I have been quite busy, as you can see.

I was a little arrogant in the planning stages as I fancied myself surrounded by Portuguese-speaking friends within four to six weeks of my relocation. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. A social-butterfly by nature, I was off to a slow start here in POA. You can imagine my gratitude for the social networking site Facebook, which is helping heaps as I try to construct my new life. My friend Victoria set up a page for foreigners in Porto Alegre a few weeks back. Since then, a great community of expats has surfaced and we decided to have a get together at Galpão Crioulo last Sunday. Given that four months ago I was sweeping my floor on Friday nights, you can imagine the delight I took in making the reservation: “Yes, I’d like meat kebabs for 30, please.”
Most of the attendees had never met in person and the reservation was in my name, so I was in a hurry to appear and facilitate introductions. Having been out late the night before, I scurried into the restaurant a few minutes later than anticipated. I spotted a few recognizable faces already at a table several hundred feet away, but my trajectory was interrupted by a shiny object. Several shiny bombas actually. Naturally, I had to pause for a conversation with Fritz The Chimarrão Guy. He occupies a booth in the shopping section of the vast building, educating visitors on tradition and method, and selling the (necessary and unnecessary) accoutrements used to prepare the tea. Just looking at his display I could see that Fritz was a master, and I wanted to be his Grasshopper so I could impress my friends at parties, but I reminded myself that I was already late for one.



While churrascarias offer great big salad bars, they are a carnivores’ paradise. Galpão Crioulo is the most touristy of the city’s churrascarias. Men dressed in traditional gaúcho garb walk around with espetos (skewers) loaded with dozens of different cuts of beef, lamb, pork, and chicken—and Crocodile-Dundee-style knives—and shave a piece onto your plate at the faintest hint of interest. The picanha, simply seasoned with salt, is succulent. There are several types of sausage. Try the chicken hearts, they’re delicious.



Galpão Crioulo also entertains you while you dine. The regional music and dancing were pretty good but the highlights were the Lord-of-the-Dance-style boot-stomping number (with spurs on their boots—take that Michael Flatley!), and the crazy numchuck-lasso-nonsense. Ok, they were neither numchucks nor lassos, but the performers were definitely whipping around these ropes that had small baseballs on either end at a dangerous speed. It was very exciting—like Cirque do Cowboy.



The 1st International Churrasco Sunday had a great turnout—close to the predicted thirty—representing Columbia, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, England, the U.S., Canada, and of course, Brazil. Nearly four hours later the last of us rolled out the front door and along the riverfront, trying to aid the digestion process with blood flow. The plan is to orchestrate a churrasco free-for-all the first Sunday of each month, choosing a new restaurant each time, though I’m not sure if I’ll be hungry by then.

Beijos,
LG