Favorite Foods of a 13 year old

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A post about an observation and realization…about food.

This is our 3rd trip together to Brasil, and is by far the longest in Brasil. Fernando moved to the U.S. when he was 13 years old. Here are some of his favorite Brazilian (junk) foods:

  • Pão de Queijo – little round cheese bread that come in mini, normal and extra large sizes.
  • Coxinha – deep fried chicken and cheese croquette, shaped into the meaty part of a chicken drumstick.
  • Croquetta – deep fried beef croquette, oblong shaped.
  • Pastel – thin, puffed up deep fried pastry dough filled with a tiny bit of Carne (ground beef), Catipury, Camarão, or Frango (chicken); or some combo thereof. I like “Romeo e Julieta” version that has light cheese and guava paste – but haven’t had it yet this trip!
  • Linguiça – Brazilian sausage (probably deep fried), eaten alone cut up, with onions, or with French Bread as a sandwich.
  • Fandangos – Chips that kids would eat (now they are made “healthier” and less tasty as they are baked).
  • Pizza de Camarão e Catupiry – Shrimp & Brazilian creamy cheese pizza or Calabresa pizza.
  • Torradas com Manteiga e Requeijão – 2 pieces of toast with butter and creamy cheese for breakfast. I’ve been eating this too while in Brasil, sans butter; we also eat local fruit too e.g. kaki (soft persimmon), papaya, mexirica (green tangerine), melon, mini bananas or ultra-sweet cherimoya. Back at home, toast is a treat in the morning as we usually eat hearty oatmeal, preferably steel cut.
  • Brigadeiro – chocolate bonbon made with condensed milk and coated with chocolate sprinkles; (although we haven’t eaten this yet. I love that Brazilians love condensed milk as I grew up with it in our coffee; Americans underuse this form of dairy, if you ask me!
  • Bolo de Laranja (Fernando introduced me to Orange Cake, so it is more my thing now).
  • + Chopp / Cerveja – Small draft beer or can/bottle of beer; now add the above and that he is of drinking age = Fernando in heaven.

When we were in Brasil, the last two times for shorter periods, it is fine to eat these foods for a few days. However, I quickly realized what was happening after being in Rio for 1 week…he’d like to eat these snack foods, as meals, daily! Ack! It gets incredibly heavy and you don’t feel good. Plus, we are older now, and our metabolisms or stomachs aren’t as resilient. I felt these foods piling up in my stomach and enlarging my gut (it actually is). This junk food diet is quite the extreme from how Fernando has been eating in LA. He likes a lot of veggies and eats less and less meat. I’m constantly pressured at home to prepare fresh and healthy food – woe is me!

Rio and Brasil in general also has a culture of snack foods, omnipresent in bars and restaurants just walking down the street, from its Portuguese heritage.

I’m not being forced to eat these things, but go along with it since we’ve been practicing the snack culture of Rio. It was also hard in Rio as things were expensive so we’d snack here and there instead of eating full meals.

The diet + our lack of actual exercise other than walking = chunky Suzando. This might be the first time we actually GAIN weight when leaving the US (where we believe LEAVING the US is actually a great passive diet strategy).

I realized that it was because Fernando becomes “13-year old Fernando” when he returns to Brasil. His Brazilian culinary education hasn’t evolved, as it has becoming an Adult/foodie in the US. What kind of adult would eat the list above for lunch and dinner, for 2 weeks at a time?! He realized this as well as it hitting his stomach harder too. We felt deprived of fresh vegetables and fruit in Rio, and we’d load up in restaurants by the kilo, at fruit juice stands, and now via Tia Tania’s home cooking.

We’ve shared this observation and realization about Fernando with his Brazilian relatives and they aren’t surprised at all. They tell tales about how he and his siblings used to eat when they were little (a bit difficult). Apparently Fandangos drove his mom crazy at the amount the 3 kids would consume. Fernando’s mom says he was quite picky when he was little – I recall him being like this in college too. Well, he can thank me for getting him to try new foods, or he wouldn’t be the “foodie” he is today and experience the world through food!

We are going on a low-carb and extremely veggie-rich diet ASAP when we get back home!

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