Feijoada Has My Heart

Feijoada is a stew of beef, pork, and beans that is typically served with rice and serves as a national dish of Brazil. I had my first serving last Friday in Santa Teresa, a beautiful neighborhood located in the center of Rio de Janeiro. Typically, I am always eager to practice the Portuguese I have been learning each day in class; speaking Portuguese is a lot harder, however, when your mouth is filled with Brazilian cuisine.

Though I might not have gotten a ton of practice speaking Portuguese during the meal, the activities directly following provided me numerous additional chances. While exploring Rio’s historical center and beholding its magnificent beauty, I was able to discuss with my professor, Igor, numerous phrases and colloquialisms used by “Cariocas” (Rio natives).

  1. I learned that the way to say “my brother” is joinng the words meu (my) + irmão (brother) to get mermão.
  2. The word bolado means to be either surprised by something, or extremely upset.
  3. The term dar um bolo is used when someone makes plans do something with someone only to bail in the end. Synonymous to the informal term “flaky” in English.
  4. Uma caô is the slang word for uma mentira (“a lie” in English). If someone is known for telling a bunch of these, they are referred to as a caozerio.
  5. The expression Deus me livre is used in situations where a person must ask God’s protection that the situation never happens again. Similar to the phrase “God forbid” in English.

Up until now, I’ve had varying levels of anxiety with speaking Portuguese. Fortunately, Brazilians are very kind and have appreciated all my efforts. Hearing “nossa, você fala muito bem” from Cariocas while internally struggling to decide whether I should use a subjunctive conjugation or a conditional tense has helped boost my confidence immensely. The Cariocas have taken me in, taking pride in the fact that I am eager to learn their language and culture. From what I have observed, heard, and read so far, a large part of the Brazilian identity centers around a detachment and re-imagination of traditional Portuguese (i.e., originating fro Portugal), with heavy influences coming from Indigenous and Afro-Diasporic communities, all to create something distinctly Brazilian.

All in all, I initially came here with the intentions of solidifying Portuguese into my brain; however, it’s the culture, rather, that is being engraved into my heart!