Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

We left our new apartment in Garanhuns yesterday for Arcoverde, where we had lunch with an aunt and some cousins. She, the aunt, called me a gatao, meaning "big cat," meaning cute, handsome, a ladies' man. I have learned to get a laugh around here by saying "Eu sou gatao...I am a big cat." 

The aunt lives on a farm... Fazenda de 2 irmaos, Two Brothers Farm. We admired the cocks and hens, sows and boars, Holsteins and a turkey. Some kind of garden spider... I think the English name is Crab spider, for what I saw... had built a web between stalks of red flowers, and was enjoying a meal of some kind of insect, looked like a katydid. Brought back memories. My father, when he was a boy, born in the Depression and poor all his childhood, used to catch those huge, black and orange crickets you see in Louisiana in the dog days of summer, used to catch one and toss it into the conspicuous web of a black and yellow garden spider. When I was a boy, he showed me this in our backyard. We would watch the spider, awakened by the tremors of his strong-as-steel silk cables, wrap the panicked prey like a wrapper at the slaughterhouse wrapping a mound of ground beef (my father was a butcher). 

Speaking of meat, I am eating less of it. I have learned to avoid fried foods here. The other week I ate a pastel -- basically a deep-fried pastry filled with shredded chicken and bacon--and paid dearly for it. You want to know what Hell is like? Imagine being stuck on a toilet with the music scene from Return of the Jedi inexplicably stuck in your head, you know, the scene at Jabba's palace where the pot-bellied alien with stalks for legs and puzzling, glittery lipstick squalls over a horrible dance beat, and the disturbingly attractive alien with tentacles growing out of her head dances moments before her grisly demise. Imagine having that awful music in your head in a moment of intestinal distress. 

Getting back to my newest diet... I think if I can remind myself to avoid the temptations of ice cream (at least at the volume of consumption I am used to) and the very delicious new pizza place (I love getting the frango com atum,  chicken and tuna pizza... and coating it with ketchup and mayonnaise)... anyway, if I can avoid those monsters of saturated fat, I could really get in shape, because almost every day we walk over a mile, usually up some very steep inclines. 

Looking over that pizza description disgusts me... mayo on Brazilian pizza is tasty, but it can't be good for my arteries. I can't believe how unhealthy I have become... my eating habits in Boston were atrocious. But I am correcting that here. We go to a very clean, health-oriented Self-Service (a buffet) often, where I eat mostly salad, some rice and tomatoes, just a little chicken for protein, etc. At some point I think I'll completely cut out the meat, to see what these self-righteous vegetarians are all yelling about. Not sure if I will ever give up dairy entirely. 

Which brings me back to the farm. They asked if I wanted to watch the cows being milked. Normally I am interested in seeing real people perform real labor, only to remind myself that I have nothing to whine about, being a life-long pencil pusher. But I find the very idea of milk disgusting. It's glandular discharge. For years I have looked for an adequate way to describe my distaste for it (granted, it's not the flavor of milk but the thought of its source). I finally found the proper description. By putting it in latinate, clinical language. Glandular discharge. Think of that next time you have a glass of warm milk before bed. 

Now, you're looking at a guy who relishes the opportunity to consume snails. (And I don't want to hear it from anyone back home who will gladly suck the head of a crayfish, or slurp down a raw oyster, how disgusting it is to eat snails. Or, for that matter, anyone who will eat shrimp. Shut up.) I also don't mind tripe, if it's cooked right. And I have gnawed on chicken feet with my Chinese friends, with some enjoyment. I have had pig ears without complaint. I remember jellyfish being kind of tasty, at least for its texture. If I ever find myself in a really good Japanese restaurant again, I'll probably order the Uni. Hell, I once woke up with a craving for blood. Blood sausage, that is, in the form of black pudding. Thankfully I was living in the Boston area, and headed over to the nearest pub pronto for a filling Irish breakfast. Much to the chagrin of my poor arteries. 

But a tall glass of milk? Don't make me vomit. 

But I love dairy. I also love pretty much anything made of tomatoes, but I hate unprocessed tomatoes themselves, unless they are diced into tiny cubes. Their seeds have the same consistency of snot. 

As an old roommate of mine was wont to remind me, there's no accounting for taste. What she had against accountants, I'll never know. 

Ouch. Now that's a joke that'll lose me some friends.  


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