500 Rio-based recipes in new book

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A new book profiles Fluminense tastes

The seat of the Portuguese empire from 1808, and federal capital between 1763 and 1960, Rio de Janeiro was the first Brazilian metropolis. In 1822, 150,000 people from diverse backgrounds circulated through its streets. Cosmopolitan by essence, the city forged its culinary identity with the mixing of diverse foreign cultures and recipes – mainly Portuguese, but also African, French and Asian – influenced by local ingredients and habits. In spite of Rio’s prominence in the history of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine does not have as clear a representation in the national imagination as in states such as Bahia, Minas Gerais and Pará, easily identified by their acarajés, cheese breads and tucupis, for example. This gap starts to be closed with the publication, by Metalivros, of “A Culinária do Rio de Janeiro: da Colônia à Atualidade”, by Flávio Ferraz – which will launch on Monday (4th), starting at 7pm, at Bar Lagoa.

A psychoanalyst from Minas Gerais, based in São Paulo, and passionate about Rio and its flavors, Ferraz dedicated ten years of his life to researching this universe. He searched primordial works such as Cozinheiro Imperial, the first cook book launched in Brazil in 1839, as well as hundreds of menus, guides, specialized channels and websites. The result is an unprecedented profile of Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine compiled in just over 300 pages. “What struck me, and motivated me to write the book, was the lack of specific material about Rio, in the face of the abundance of publications about other states, even those that are less relevant,” notes the author. After a fine preface by historian Rosa Belluzo, Ferraz analyzes the daily life in the court and in the city, highlighting customs and social movements that helped create the diffuse food culture of Rio.

“It focuses, for example, on the heritage of street food. So trendy nowadays, it has been at the base of culinary tradition since before the emergence of taverns and bodegas, the ancestors of restaurants. And it reveals the origin of the Carioca’s passion for leisure and the outdoors and for informal bars. In countless canvases, Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848) portrays the streets of Rio de Janeiro in the nineteenth century, with slaves preparing and selling cakes, manuês, sonhos, cornbread, pão de ló, angu and even feijoada. “The city has always had a profile related to being outside of one’s home, transforming daily happenings into public life,” analyzes historian Antonio Edmilson, a professor at PUC-Rio and UERJ, recalling the chronicles of João do Rio.

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Illustrated by respected designer Victor Burton, the book provides the reader with 500 recipes, many of which had already been lost in time. There are dishes that exalt the neighborhood where they were created, such as Copacabana fish, Flamengo cod or Ipanema kidneys, and classics such as picadinho, Oswaldo Aranha fillet and feijoada, which, although of lusitanian origin, took on local traits. Citing delicacies like the cookies of chef Katia Barbosa, the author makes the bridge between the past and the present.

And it goes beyond the limits of the capital by covering the Serrana and dos Lagos regions, the Costa Azul, the Litoral Norte and the Costa Verde. Finally, it devotes a good section to drinks, recovering traditions like the aluá (a refreshment of native origin, made from the fermentation of rice and rapadura) and emblematic drinks like the caipirinha – that became a national symbol -, through creations of mixologists such as Alex Mesquita and André Paixão. A feast and then some, for lovers of good food. – Source (PT)

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Rio bookstores, reinvented

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Bookstores reinvent themselves to face the crisis and the internet

From the outside, Livraria Camerino, in the Port Zone, looks like a shop for photocopies, novelties and stationery. But whoever crosses through one of the three doors of the old building, in front of the Valongo Suspended Garden, will discover a world of shelves and shelves filled with used publications, among them, textbooks, novels, guides, almanacs and rare magazines. There are 15 thousand titles for sale in the used bookstore, open since 1971, and that has belonged, for several generations, to the family of 55 year old bookseller Paulo Félix. Meanwhile, the bookstore Lumen Chisti specializes in new editions with religious content, but those who are looking for the small shop in the courtyard of the São Bento Monastery, also in the Port area, can find chocolates and sweets produced in the South of the country, as well as images and medals.

The two addresses are in the “Guia de Livrarias da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro” (Bookstore Guide of the City of Rio de Janeiro), released by the State Association of Bookstores (AEL-RJ), last month. Edited after two years of research, the material, however, is already in the hands of readers in need of correction: of the 204 listed establishments, eight have already closed their doors. Three years ago, they were 252.

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According to the president of the association, Antônio Carlos de Carvalho, this was the first guide of its kind produced by the institution and, as the objective was to make a complete map, the survey included all types of establishments from the branch. There are small bookstores on the street, used bookstores, those with bistros, religious ones, those that diversify with stationery, and the mega bookstores, who also sell electronic items. Diversification may be the reason these places weather the era of fast internet and e-books.

The Oldest is from 1897

Of the 204 presented in the Carioca guide, the one on Spiritist Federation on Avenida Passos, 28, founded in 1897, is the only one in operation since the 19th century. Beyond that, seven were opened in 2016. In the opening text, the guide explains that this changing shop profile is actually a return to origins, “when books were just one of the items offered”:

“Unfortunately, some that are in the guide, such as Casa Cruz and a Saraiva branch downtown, have closed. But the guide shows that there are many still open. The reality is that the vast majority do not just sell books. They sell games, CDs, magazines and even coffee. Many became almost bazaars. But I think it’s still possible to live off of selling books in the city. So much so that our family has been in this business for more than 40 years, and my bookstore sells only books”, defends Antônio Carlos, owner of Galileo (Rua Major Ávila 116, Tijuca).

Of the bookstores in Rio, 25% carry general titles, from various areas of knowledge. The others are segmented. There are 33 religious bookstores (15 being Evangelical) and 27 used bookstores, according to the guide. Those who sell didactic and paradidical books make up 28. The Livraria Camerino (Rua Camerino 52, Centro), for example, mainly carries books on exact sciences for undergraduates.

“Looking online for mainly engineering and mathematics books, for students from 38 colleges in Brazil. Half of my sales come from there”, says Paulo Félix, who, on days for guided visits to the Port Zone, usually receives tourists looking for books on the history of the region.

Solário (Rua Sete de Setembro 169) is one of the traditional ones that endure downtown. But, like most, it also adhered to selling online:

“In the months of January and February, the buyers are the self-taught group. Throughout the year, we sell other types of books, focused on fiction, esotericism, self-help and children. We are always struggling with internet sales, with sites that buy wholesale and give discounts. There is even a site for home appliances selling books online. But from my experience, anyone who likes to read will never give up a book. We have to continue”, says manager Alfredo Silva, at Solário for 15 years.

One flip through the guide shows that many owners have diversified their businesses to ensure survival. Antiqualhas Brasileiras (Rua da Carioca 10, Centro) exhibits cachaça, antiques and some book covers of literary works about Old Rio in the window. Letra Viva (Rua Luís de Camões 10) is another example. In its large hall, used book shelves share space with bistro tables. Owner Luiz Barreto believes that the way to attract readers is the environment:

“We are a used bookstore, but not that old kind, dark, dusty, unkempt. The customer comes and feels like staying longer. We also do online auctions of art books. The important thing is to diversify the business.”

Zona Norte has More Spaces

The addresses indicated in the guide are divided by the regions of the city, with maps and a short summary of each establishment. The Zona Norte appears first, with 63 stores; followed by downtown, with 60; the Zona Sul, with 54, and the Zona Oeste, with 28. The publication, which will not be sold, has been distributed to publishers, bookstores and public agencies.

In 2014 and 2015, the city lost 18 establishments, according to the association. For Bernardo Gurbanov, director-president of the National Association of Bookstores, the crisis in the sector cannot be interpreted as the end of books:

“The challenge of maintaining a bookstore is too big. Books compete with many other entertainment alternatives, with new technologies. And it’s up to bookstores and publishers to look for alternatives, such as offering aggregate services. But I believe books will keep their place, because a world without stories is inconceivable.”

According to the Panel of Book Sales in Brazil, a survey that the National Union of Book Publishers publishes monthly in partnership with Nielsen Bookscan, despite the crisis, there was a 6.02% growth in the amount of books sold in the country. Studies show that the number of readers has increased again: in 2011, it represented 50% of the population and in 2015 it reached 56%. The reading index indicates that the Brazilian reads, on average, 4.96 books per year. The previous average was four.

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Livraria Letra Viva

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Livraria Letra Viva

(see top photo)

Livraria Camerino

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Livraria da Federação Espírita

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Livraria Solário

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Lumen Chisti

Source (PT)

Rio’s Messy Growth

The messy growth and limited transport links have caused problems that still exist today

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Santa Bárbara Tunnel. The controversial construction was the cause of complaints from residents and killed 18 workers

A public demonstration took over downtown. About five thousand people faced the police, broke posts, and flipped over vehicles. There were records of three deaths, but violence left other victims: countless donkeys stabbed. There was enough even for the animals, the tram-pullers that cut through the city. All this was motivated by the 20 cent increase (vintém) in the fare, a measure that, today, could be equated with the R$0.20 readjustment for buses that also drove a crowd to the streets in 2013. Workers, stimulated by growing opposition to the emperor Dom Pedro II, made the first protest against the transport structure of the city in Rio in 1880, more than 20 years before the Vaccine Revolt (1904).

“At the time, transportation occurred by trams pulled by donkeys. The lower classes and republican opposition rebelled against the monarchy, recalls historian Carlos Addor of the Fluminense Federal University.

The residents of the then-capital of the Empire didn’t know, but their grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up facing similar problems. Expensive fares would influence the proliferation of favelas, and the road network grew disorderly, without providing integration between modes of transport. European cities took more than a century to leave behind their rural profile, but Rio took just over 40 years to take on an urban status.

This accelerated pace, coupled with a lack of planning – two large urban projects developed in the last century didn’t leave the planning stage – and localized development aimed at the upper classes, made Rio the uneven metropolis we now know, according to historians, geographers, journalists and writers.

“The entire urbanization process in Rio was done to the exclusion of second-class citizens, says journalist and writer Zuenir Ventura, who in 1994 addressed the roots of this logic in the book “Cidade Partida.”

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Avenida Central. During urban reforms under Pereira Passos, with the intention of turning it into a true Parisian boulevard.

The Center of Everything

At the time of the so-called Vintém Revolt (mentioned at the top), Rio was a city that existed in function of the downtown region. “Suburb” was a word used for the wealthy, and defined neighborhoods such as Glória, Catete and Laranjeiras, still fairly unoccupied and very wooded. This bucolic setting is depicted in Machado de Assis’s “Dom Casmurro”: the protagonist couple, Bentinho and Capitu, lived in Glória, from where one could see the sea through the window, at a time when the Aterro did not exist. Flamengo Beach, with clear waters, was lit up like Copacabana in the first half of the 20th century, but without swimsuits on parade through the sands.

Urban Rio, however, was downtown. In the early 1900s, a quarter of the city lived in slums. At the time, the city took in many poor people: a large number of ex-slaves came here, people who worked in the coffee plantations of the interior. With poor hygiene and housing conditions, these buildings began to be protested – including the folkloric Cabeça de Porco, whose owner lived in Gávea, which was already a noble area of Rio.

To “sanitize” the capital and make it a metropolis like Paris, Mayor Pereira Passos made a series of urban interventions during his term from 1903 to 1906. He demolished about 1,700 buildings to open and widen streets, and practically rebuilt Avenida Central, currently Rio Branco.

“Rio is a city that was founded to expel French invaders and who, at some point, decided that it had to be like France” – mocks historian and Globo columnist Luiz Antônio Simas.

The “sweep” ended with community housing, and the lower classes had to look for other places to live. At the time, says historian Milton Teixeira, it was believed that bad smells transmitted diseases:

“The poor, who could not shower every day or buy French perfumes, were seen as sources of infection.”

Those who could not afford a ride went up the hill. Those who had somewhat better financial conditions were pushed into the new suburbs, now with negative connotations. They were neighborhoods that followed the route of the railroads, created to transport goods. The trolley, controlled by foreign companies, was a symbol of the separation of the city: there was a car for the middle and upper classes and one for the poor, it was the taioba – on which it was possible to read, on a panel, the specification of who was to use it: “For luggage and those with bare feet”.

The trams that took the Zona Sul route, until the Botanic Garden, had a more expensive price because of the length of the route, which ended up limiting its public. As there was no single route, the meeting between the suburbanites and the residents of the Zona Sul took place downtown.

There were times when social classes were coupled with doses of tension. At religious festivals, for example. In the book “Lucíola”, by José de Alencar, Paul meets his beloved, who he later discovers is a courtesan, while she handed out spare change in the celebrations for Nossa Senhora da Glória, on Rua da Lapa. “All the grotesque types of Brazilian society, from the arrogant nullity to vile flattery, paraded in front of me, brushing silk and cashmere with baize or cotton, mixing delicate perfumes with impure exhalations”, he notes, recently-arrived to the city. Luiz Antônio Simas tells us that the feast for Our Lady of Penha in the 1900s and 1910s attracted the Catholic elite and the poor, who formed samba and capoeira groups. At a time when African culture was criminalized, the police always put the blacks on the run.

In the 1930s, with Getulio Vargas’ Estado Novo government, the opening of roads and urbanization projects in the suburbs gained strength. The electricity-powered trains, boosted the occupation of the North and West zones, and bus lines, began to be created. It was a stepping stone for Rio to take on characteristics of a metropolis.

“In 1940, 70% of the Brazilian population lived in the countryside. In 1980, we had 70% of Brazilians in the city. The result of this is “peripheralization”, a slumification, of urban swelling and immobility – notes Marcus Dezemone, professor of History at UERJ and UFF.

Rio, however, had two urban plans drawn up by foreign experts. The first was signed by Alfred Agache in the late 1920s. He had planned the construction of gardens throughout the city – including the suburbs – and opening roads to connect the periphery to downtown, including three subway lines. The project, however, basically didn’t leave the drawing room.

In the 1930s, the suburb was already housing the lower middle class, including immigrants. According to the historian Leonardo Soares, from UFF, the nucleus of the neighborhoods was established around the train stops. The embryo of the Mercadão de Madureira came about – an initiative of Portuguese and Jewish merchants. A May 1936 issue of “Revista da Semana” featured a report about a huge gypsy camp in the region where Cachambi is today (pg 01 & 02). They said they had left Greece, and revealed plans to go to São Paulo.

The more humble people settled in the hills closer to their workplaces. The slumification had a certain complicity from the elite, who needed cheap labor nearby. According to Milton Teixeira, Rocinha, for example, which became a stronghold of Northeastern migrants, began to concentrate, in the 1930s, workers doing construction in São Conrado and Gávea, including that of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC). Morro Dona Marta, in Botafogo, which was the first community to receive a Peacekeeping Police Unit in 2008, had its first inhabitants brought there by Father José Maria Natuzzi, then-director of the Santo Inácio College. In favelas without water and sewage, the proliferation of diseases so feared by authorities continued – but beyond the reach of Rio’s public opinion.

“Today, Rio has six thousand cases of tuberculosis per year, which occur mainly in favela areas”, says researcher Jorge Castro, from the National School of Public Health at Fiocruz, for whom the urbanization of Rio de Janeiro meant time was needed to realize the importance of basic care in vulnerable locations, which prevents and reduces the demand for more complex care. “In Europe, this vision emerged after the Second World War.”

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Rebouças Tunnel. Construction of tunnels amplified the connection between the Zonas Norte and Sul.

Still Precarious Sanitation

The Rio of the 1950s was a city of precarious services. In addition to seeing the decay of the trams and the growth of mini buses, Cariocas suffered with a lack of electricity and water. The newspapers brought daily reports on the state of the neighborhoods with dry taps. The supply system of the Rio Guandu was only inaugurated in 1965, by governor Carlos Lacerda. Today, Rio still leaves much to be desired in sanitation: only 47% of the sewage is treated, and the municipality is in 50th place among the 100 cities in the 2016 Sanitation Ranking, done by the NGO Trata Brasil. Historian Leonardo Soares points out that, until the 1980s, many residents of Gardênia Azul, in the Zona Oeste, drew water from a large well.

Between 1950 and 1960, the city underwent a new wave of transformations. The favelas, mainly in the South Zone, became a problem that had to be eradicated, and the solution was to remove its residents and accommodate them in planned and often remote farms and neighborhoods. It was in this logic behind the Vila Kennedy, Cidade Alta, Cidade de Deus and Maré – which, with wooden houses, were to be used as temporary residence for families who had been forced to wait for the construction of definitive real estate. A lot of people just stayed there.

“Some housing developments became problems. They took in people who could not sustain themselves”, says Pedro da Luz, president of the Instituto Arquitetos do Brasil (IAB) in Rio. – The Minha Casa Minha Vida program repeated this formula.

Rio invested in road transport. The mini buses were done with, and regular bus lines appeared. The tram, on the other hand, stopped circulating in 1964, and the trains went through a process of being scrapped. Tunnels were opened between the Zona Norte and Sul, which caused controversy. Santa Bárbara, which connects Catumbi and Laranjeiras, was the object of complaints from residents of the two districts, who didn’t want roads that gave access to the tunnels. Before construction was finished, 18 workers died in an explosion. The tunnel, inaugurated in 1964, would be called another name, but ended up dedicated to the saint because, inside, an altar was built in memory of the dead. Santa Bárbara is considered the patron saint of tunnel builders.

Rebouças, inaugurated in 1967, began to let vehicles through still without being totally ready. From 1976, buses began to circulate through its tunnels – it was at this time that the pejorative expression “além túnel” appeared, addressed to the residents of the Zona Norte who became frequenters of the beaches in Ipanema and Leblon.

The subway only came in 1979, almost 90 years after the first lines in the world. It began by connecting five stations, from Glória to Praça Onze.

“Our subway was one of the few on the planet planned to serve the middle class. This type of transport was launched in London, with the aim of taking the poor from the periphery to work”, says Milton Teixeira.

The city also had a second urban plan, in the 1960s, elaborated by the Greek Constantino Doxiadis. In June 1965, Globo reported that it envisaged the construction of an industrial area in the Zona Oeste, of ten thousand homes for slum dwellers and 7,500 classrooms. Only two of the six designed expressways actually left the planning stage: the Linha Vermelha, inaugurated in 1992, and the Linha Amarela, in 1997.

Unconcern with the environment marked the 20th century. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, for example, has had several proposals for total landfilling, as revealed in the book “Lagoa”, organized by architect Augusto Ivan de Freitas Pinheiro and urban planner Eliane Pinheiro. The first was from doctor Oswaldo Cruz, in 1894, who thought that the Lagoa, being a marshy area, was a threat to the health of Cariocas. Agache, in the 1920s, wanted the area to be a place to a leisure. In the following decade, Lúcio Costa defended the construction of a university campus in the location. Rodrigo de Freitas resisted, but others did not have the same luck: Bairro Peixoto, in Copacabana, was erected where there was a large base of water.

Reported in O Globo

The Globo edition of October 4, 1967, printed on the front page news of the fire that destroyed the Praia do Pinto Favela in Lagoa, which was eventually removed in the following years. On the same day, the news about the inauguration of Rebouças – then the largest urban tunnel in the world – emphasized that the route from the Zona Norte to the Lagoon could be done in just five minutes.

PS – It seems the article has no real ending…

Source (PT)

Cardboard Head – Joao do Rio

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“Cardboard Head” (aka “O Homem da Cabeça de Papelão“), published in the 1920s by writer and journalist João do Rio, tells the story of Antenor, an honest young man who lives in the Country of the Sun. A man who has a terrible fault: “He always tells the truth”. Due to this, Antenor is discriminated against and repulsed by his family and society in general. Not bearing the pressure, he decides to exchange his head for a cardboard one, produced on an assembly line.

Below is an award-winning stop-motion animation (PT) based on drawings by J. Carlos and inspired by João do Rio’s Cardboard Head.

Policing Rio beaches – 1917

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Cariocas and the Sea, Not Always a Love Affair
O Globo, 2005

The history of the evolution of habits shows that going to the beach was already an activity that could end at the police station

The sea bath in 1917 was therapy advised by doctors and restricted, by decree, to certain times. Noise and shouting were also forbidden. Bathing suits, only with “necessary decency”, that is, with the body covered up. The swimsuits were less suffocating in the 1930s, but the police took the looser bathers to jail. It was the “pro-decency campaign.” The libertarian vocation of the Carioca was reborn in the boldness of the fifties, which, even under the sandstorm of conservatives, transgressed with showy “two pieces.” The swimsuit became the bikini, and in the 80s they took off the top. Topless didn’t take root, but the limit was no longer a decree or code of conduct, but the fashion.

With a century having passed, Cariocas have killed off various laws, ordinances and rules of behavior to choose, without repression, the proper conduct for the magical scenery formed by sand, sea and bodies exposed to the sun.

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Outlaw bathers could spend five days in jail

The beaches fell into the purview of the law after a decree (1.143) from Rio Mayor Amaro Cavalcanti in May 1917. The measure, which regulated the use of Leme and Copacabana beaches, instituted: “Sea baths will only be allowed from April 1st to November 30th, from 6 to 9AM and from 4 to 6PM; From December 1st to March 31st from 5 to 8AM and from 5 to 7PM. In other words: during the day, the beach was off limits. Anyone who broke the rules, paid 20 mil reis or spent five days in prison.

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Claudia Gaspar, author of the book “Orla Carioca: história e cultura“, says that the first beaches laws had probable French origin.

“The rules must have come from manuals from that country, so much that the lifeguard stations were called places of sauvatage. Despite the restrictions, it was a step up from the previous period, when some people rented boats in Praça XV to take private baths off the coast. The beach was still more medicinal than social,” recalls Claudia.

Writers came out in defense of the one-piece. The author of “Orla Carioca” found in a 1926 edition of the newspaper “Beira Mar” an ode to freedom: “We are already angry about this false moral civilization created by our grandparents. It is frankly ridiculous that in the mid-twentieth century we want to shape our standard of living in the archaic and moldy mirrors of 1830. ”

It was not long before society reacted: on January 12, 1931, on the front page of Globo, the headline said: “The pro-modesty campaign was initiated by the police on the bathing beaches of Rio.” The photos showed bathers forced to wear long robes and others being taken to the police station. It was forbidden, among other things, to walk the access streets to the beach dressed in swimsuits. The limits continued in the years to come, as 69-year old retired UFRJ history professor Miridan Falci says:

“One would leave the beach with a large towel wrapped around one’s body, and at times it was forbidden. On the buses, a warning said: “the entry of bathers is prohibited”. But I witnessed liberation: I was on Ipanema Beach in 1971, the day that Leila Diniz appeared pregnant in a bikini!

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Topless fashion erupted in the “summer of amnesty”, in 1980, but it never became a broad, general and unrestrained fashion. Legally, it was banned and unbanned several times – the first time in 1973, when the Federal Supreme Court denied an injunction requested by a bather, who wanted to expose her body with the approval of the judges. In 2000, commercial representative Rosimeri Moura da Costa, 34, was arrested while going topless in Recreio, accused of an obscene act. Today, Cariocas are free to leave the beach and go to chic places, but they prefer tempered swimsuits, even on the beach, according to a couple of artists Lúcio Tapajós, 35, and Renata Nonô, 32. She gives her version for the return to the past:

“Even to buy a coconut at the kiosk, many girls wear a shorts or a sarong. And the bikinis look like bathing suits. But this is not a conservative wave, but an excess of body worship. People get hysterical when they have cellulite or a stretch mark.”

It is another kind of dictatorship: that of the perfect body. But at least in sports, there are those who float above the new rules. Marianne Kerr, 23, surfs every day in a bikini at Leblon. When the time is short, one leaves home ready to enter the water without fear of being misinterpreted.

“Since I live close by, when I’m in a hurry, before college or work, I go out in a bikini to the beach. Cariocas do not do much of this, but there is nothing wrong with it”, says the surfer, who studies psychology at PUC.

Marianne would not have a good time on a beach from last century. She would have a problem with her bikini until the 1950s, and in the 1970s she would have to leave the board in the sand for most of the day, as surfing also suffered under the laws. A 1976 resolution by the State Department of Public Safety established that the sport could only be practiced after 2PM on seven beaches in the state. On the rest of the coast it was forbidden. Frescobol continues to be illegal, but the most restricted sport currently is kitesurfing, allowed in Rio just between two kiosks at Barra beach. – Source (PT, PDF)


For more, listen to this 10-minute podcast (PT) from Cultura Popular Carioca, or read this article (PT) from O Globo. From Deep Rio, be sure to check out The Cabines of Copacabana. I’ll also add two articles from Revista da Semana from 1917/18 that talk about the dangers of indecency (once clicked, you can open them full size in the bottom, right-hand corner).

 

Long Life to Folha Seca!

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A day doesn’t go by without news of the closing of a traditional establishment: a used bookstore that has a particular abundance of French books, a coffeehouse that was always full of people, a hotel that had lodged a world champion team (from Uruguay, in 1950), a newstand that served espressos to clients and even an important store for sports items on the most expensive block in Ipanema. Behind each story is the flight of clientele and money and the [economic] crash that swept the country.

At the same time, one doesn’t hear about the closing of pharmacies, banks, and Evangelic temples, nor of stores dedicated to mattresses, furniture or articles for the home. Incidentally, they occupy the spaces where nice and needed commerce was located up until a short time ago. It’s not that these new, arrogant stores can’t exist. But who needs four pharmacies from the same chain in a single block? In other countries, the government controls this excess.

That’s why when one learns that a bookstore in Rio is celebrating its 19th anniversary, it’s not a case of only blowing out the candles, but of setting off rockets. That’s what’s happening today, the anniversary of Folha Seca, on Ouvidor street, coinciding with Saint Sebastian, patron saint of the city. When Rodrigo Ferrari opened it, in 1998, the idea was audacious: a “Carioca bookstore”, specialized in books about Rio, popular music and football. Since when does a country in eternal crisis behave with such specialization?

But Rodrigo undertook it and his presence injected happiness into that section of Ouvidor, between Primeiro de Março and Travessa do Comércio. Bars, restaurants and samba circles cropped up, making it one of the most pleasant blocks of old Rio.

Rio couldn’t be understood without Folha Seca. A long life to this bookstore, that does the city so well! – Source (PT)

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Also, here’s a recent piece (PT) on O Globo about the bookstore

Lima Barreto – Sad visionary

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At the top of Affonso de Henriques de Lima Barreto’s record of his first hospitalization in the Hospício Nacional, the writer is identified as white. The year was 1914, the diagnosis alcoholism, the city Rio de Janeiro. Just below the header, however, a sepia photo belies information about his color. Just like countless intellectuals and well-known Brazilians, who were black but were repeatedly portrayed as white, Lima, who was still alive, was taken as something he was not. In his case, however, the “whitening” is even more absurd, since being a black in the last country in the world to abolish slavery was a central issue of his life and work.

“In his characters, plots, and personal writings, the attention given to the racial question and descriptions of characters’ physical types are always emphasized,” says anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. If at the beginning of the twentieth century, racial determinism – which claimed that mestizo and black populations were biologically weaker – was in vogue, Lima appeared as a dissonant, combative, and often lonely voice. “The mental capacity of the negro is measured a priori, that of the white a posteriori,” he wrote in Diário in 1904, offering a clear picture of the tenor of racism that prevailed in Brazil after the abolition of slavery.

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The theme of race, not by chance, is also made more relevant in the biography Lima Barreto: Triste Visionário, which Schwarcz launches on July 10, from editor Companhia das Letras. “Lima is a well-played character. The whole series of researchers who followed Francisco de Assis Barbosa, his first biographer and diffuser of his work, is excellent. The question I asked, which had not yet been asked much, is about the issue of race. “A grandson of slaves and the son of free parents, born on May 13, 1881, on the same date the ‘golden law’ would end slavery seven years later, Lima approached the subject from his own experience. His work, in this sense, is extremely autobiographical.

As a teenager the writer attended the Polytechnic School and found himself to be the only black person in a class composed of elite white children, feeling all the rejection that could exist in such a situation. In Memorias do Escrivão Isaías Caminha, from 1909, his debut novel, he made the character Isaías, the bastard son of a priest with a slave, go through a childhood in which he received regular education, discovering in the future that his color would be a barrier for him to move up the ladder. Like Isaías, Lima also had a relatively stable childhood development, only discovering in adolescence and early youth the displacement that his social condition and color would impose on him.

Commonly portrayed as a poor writer, Lima had had some family stability for much of his childhood. His father, João Henriques, and his mother, Amalia Augusta, were ambitious and had good relations with the elite. They were educated and free. While he had a promising career as a printer, she was a schoolteacher. Things started to change when Amália died of tuberculosis and João lost his job. In 1902, after a series of episodes of emotional exhaustion, he also lost his purpose, which led Lima to leave college to financially support the household.

At the age of 21, he became the breadwinner of the family, made up of three brothers, a father and a few other members. Working as a public servant and, at the same time, following his literary goals with routine collaborations in newspapers and magazines, Lima found the critical propensity of his main brand early on. If it denounced racism, it also directed attacks against the Republic, the press, and anything that smacked of foreignisms. “There is a history of comparing Lima Barreto with Machado de Assis, but it is an injustice. They had completely different goals, while Machado was a universalist, Lima was an engaged writer who denounced mischief and criticized what he saw in his daily life”, says Schwarcz.

Looking back at his era, Lima was, for example, a ferocious critic of downtown Rio’s renovation, undertaken by mayor and engineer Pereira Passos. The era marks the beginning of the opening up of large avenues in the city and the subsequent expulsion of poor people living in slums to places further and further away. According to Schwarcz, “his view of the renovation was impressive, because many of those who witnessesed it at the time were delighted with what was being done.” He, on the contrary, already saw the plight of those that were expelled – which would ultimately result in a chronic problem for Brazilian cities, present until today – and was also incited by what he saw as the exportation of European city standards, especially of Paris, to Brazil. A great angst of his life, for example, was the neighborhood of Botafogo and the city of Petropolis, both “French-ified”.

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The sad end of Lima Barreto

Between 1909, the year that Memórias do Escrivão Isaías Caminha was launched, and the year 1922, when he died at age 41, Lima wrote hundreds of chronicles and short stories, such as O Homem que Sabia Javanês and Nova Califórnia, and published at least one masterpiece: The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma, in 1911. Other novels, such as Numa e a Ninfa and Vida e Morte de MJ Gonzaga de Sá, were also published in the short time frame. In addition to these publications, a lot of material came to the public after his death, such as Diário Íntimo, Clara dos Anjos and Os Bruzundangas. In short, it was a productive and intense output.

With a life touched by alcoholism, however, his texts and books were often viewed and evaluated by critics as erratic. Lima piled up several projects at the same time and did not fit the virtuoso profile with which writers were seen. In addition, the autobiographical tone of his books and the lack of concern in hiding the real personality of some of its characters were not well evaluated at the time. In Memórias do Escrivão Isaías Caminhas, for example, he critically portrayed different journalists who were easily recognizable, such as the celebrated chronicler João do Rio and Edmundo Bittencourt, owner of Correio da Manhã, one of the most influential newspapers of the time. He didn’t have an easy life after that.

“It was only after 1950, when he was rediscovered by biographer Assis Barbosa, that his work began to circulate again, but I think his name only came to be remembered, in fact, recently”, says Schwarcz. Today he will also be the main honoree at the 2017 Paraty Literary Festival (FLIP), which takes place at the end of July. According to the biographer, it’s also interesting to think that if the image of the Bohemian writer was so romanticized in some cases in literary history, with Lima Barreto it was always seen as something derogatory. “Bohemia and alcoholism, in his case, always appeared as an accusation”, says the biographer. Behind this, perhaps is the question of race once again. Not that Lima didn’t have serious problems with alcohol. He did, and they cost him his health. But it’s curious to think about the difference in treatment that his bohemia received.

In 1919, when he was hospitalized for the second time at the Hospício Nacional, Lima was already described as someone ragged, with his shoes on the wrong foot, perspiring a lot, with a swollen face and “sampaku” eyes – when there is white below the iris, a characteristic common to alcoholism. Three years later he died lying on his bed while reading a French magazine. At that time, Schwarcz describes, his personality was increasingly merging with that of the suffering suburban residents – he portrayed so much in his texts.

Lima, according to his new biographer, is our visionary for having spoken of racism practically a hundred years before the subject was actually open for discussion. He is our visionary also for having anticipated a series of Brazilian themes, such as the unplanned urbanization of cities. It’s sad to know beforehand that it wasn’t going well and that the euphoria of the years in which he lived  – the time of the Belle Époque, where scientific advancement and the growth of cities gave the impression that humanity’s problems were resolved – would not last. Unfortunately, the sad visionary may have had his maturity interrupted: “If we think that Machado de Assis wrote his main works after the age of 40, it is a pity that Lima was gone so early.” – Source (PT)


For a written interview with the author and short videos of her talking about his life, go here (PT)

Trolley Etiquette – Machado de Assis

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Machado de Assis would have turned 178 years old on June 21st. Here’s an etiquette guide he wrote back in 1883. Take note of Article II which sounds like manspreading.

How to behave on the trolley

It occurred to me to compose certain rules for the use of those who use trolleys. Between us, the development of this essentially democratic! means of locomotion requires that it not be left to the pure whim of the passengers. I cannot give more than a few extracts from my work; just know that there are no less than seventy articles. Here are just ten. 

Art. I – The throat-clearers

Throat-clearers can enter the trolleys on the condition that they do not cough more than three times within one hour, and in case of phlegm, four.

When the cough is so stubborn that it does not allow this limitation, the throat-clearers have two options: – either to go by foot, which is good exercise, or to go to bed. They can also go to hell coughing.

The throat-clearers that are at the ends of the row of seats should spit towards the street, instead of doing it in the trolley itself, except in case of betting, a religious or Masonic precept, vocation, etc., etc.

Art. II – Position of the legs

Legs must be brought in so that they do not disturb the passengers on the same row of seats. Open legs aren’t formally forbidden, but on condition of paying for other seats, and having them occupied by poor girls or underprivileged widows, and giving some small change.

Art. III – Reading newspapers

Each time a passenger opens a page he is reading, he should be careful to not lightly touch his neighbor’s nostrils, nor lift up their hats. It is also not pretty to lay the pages on the passenger in front.

Art. IV – Cigars

The use of cigars is allowed in two circumstances: the first is when there is no one on the trolley, and the second is upon exiting.

Art. V – Annoying people

Anyone that feels the need to speak of their intimate businesses, not caring about others, should first inquire from the chosen passenger about such confidentiality, if he is very Christian and resigned. In the affirmative case, one will ask him if he prefers the narration or to be kicked off. Being it probable that he would prefer the latter, the person should immediately strike them. In the case, however extraordinary and almost absurd, in which the passenger would prefer the narration, the proponent should do so thoroughly, heavily conveying the most trivial circumstances, expelling what is said, going over and over things, in a way that the patient swears to God to not be subject to it again.

Art. VI – Spitting talkers

The front row of seats is reserved for the emission of spitting talkers, save for the occasions in which the rain obliges one to change seats. Also they express themselves on the back platform, with the passenger going next to the conductor, facing the street.

Art. VII – Conversations

When two people, sitting at a distance; wish to say something aloud, they should be careful not to use more than fifteen or twenty words, and, in any case, without malicious allusions, mainly if there are ladies about.

Art. VIII – People who smell bad

People who smell bad can participate in trolleys indirectly: remaining on the sidewalk, and seeing them pass by from one side to the other. It would be better if they lived along the street where trolleys passes by, because then they could see them from their window.

Art. IX – Women passing

When a lady enters, the passenger at the head should stand up and allow passage, not just because it is uncomfortable for him to remain seated, squeezing his legs but because it shows a great rudeness.

JULY 4, 1883

Source (PT)

No fortune or future for Rio tea

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Rather than an early morning cup of coffee and another little cup after lunch, a cup of tea. Perhaps this would be a Carioca habit had Dom João’s ambitious project succeeded. In the 1810s, between 200 and 500 Chinese from Macau disembarked in Rio to work (in semi-slavery conditions) farming tea, until then only produced in China. It was a real Chinese business, since the product was a very profitable trade in Europe.

The plans included bringing up to one million Chinese to the country and supplying not only the domestic market but also the European market. Contrary to what was planned, the plantations – at Rio’s Botanical Garden, Ilha do Governador and the Fazenda Imperial de Santa Cruz – did not go forward. But the arrival of immigrants became a part of history as the first Chinese contact with Brazil. The circumstances of this trip and its consequences are now recounted in the book “China made in Brasil” (Babilônia Cultura Editorial), by journalists Cristiane Costa and Cibele Reschke de Borba.

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The book doesn’t end in the nineteenth century: it deals with the cultural and commercial exchange between the two countries to the present day. China is the country that most invests now in Brazil. The sum is around R$30 billion [in 2015]. And Rio served as the first port for these exchanges.

“Tea was an important spice at the time. And it was the moment for the globalization of food”, says Cristiane, noting that of the Chinese who arrived in the early nineteenth century, only the names of four are known (Liang Chou, Ming Huang, Chian Chou and Tsai Huang). “These were not ordinary workers. They stayed at the Conde da Barca’s house on an official mission. One hypothesis is that they organized the coming of workers or the importation of seedlings.

Different Palates

As to why tea farming didn’t work, there are some theories. Shu Chang-Sheng, a Chinese man who lives in Rio and holds a doctorate in history from UFF, says that one of them is about the difference between palates: since the Chinese usually drink green tea, the product produced here would not have pleased the Portuguese, accustomed to sweetened black tea. German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, who traveled through Brazil in the following decade and came to portray the work of Chinese in the Botanical Garden (see main image above), wrote that the tea had the “acrid taste of earth.”

Immigrants might also not have been exactly specialists in this type of agriculture, according to the historian. The labor regime imposed on them – which reminds us of the Chinese currently treated like slaves in Rio’s pastry shops – is another possibility:

“The Chinese had an aversion to closed systems. They may have resisted the concentration camp at Fazenda Real.”

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After the plantations were over, the Chinese spread out. Some turned into peddlers, some went to coffee farms. There are also those that gave rise to the first opium houses downtown, next to Beco dos Ferreiros. Those who worked in the Botanical Garden built homes in Tijuca Forest, in ​​the Vista Chinesa area (above) – hence the explanation for the name of the viewpoint, which was also called Vista dos Chins and Rancho dos Chins. In the Pereira Passos government, a Chinese pagoda was erected at the Vista, in reference to this memory. The project, from 1903, is by architect Luiz Rey.

The country would only see a significant number of Chinese arriving here starting in WWII. Journalists estimate the number of immigrants and descendants living in Brazil is 250,000. Chang-Sheng estimates that in Rio there are about 20,000. Although there is no Chinatown in Rio, one of the strongholds is Saara, where, behind the counter, many children of the first immigrants are seen there, from the end of the 1980s.

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Chang-Sheng says that immigrants come to Rio today with different motivations, working in branches that go beyond commerce and the kitchens of restaurants and pastry shops:

“Most work within the retail and wholesale network. But a kind of transnational Chinese immigrant has arisen, who are executives of Chinese companies moving from China to Brazil, from Brazil to the United States or from here to Latin America.” – Source (PT)


This post was in honor of the Botanical Garden’s 209th anniversary yesterday. To know about tea in Brazil these days, here’s part of an abstract from a 2009 paper on the subject:

“In Brazil, the culture of tea is concentrated in the Ribeira Valley – SP, and almost all the production is exported. Despite the Brazilian product is not of high quality, it has achieved good prices in the international market. The Brazilian production, the production area and the number of tea industries are decreasing in recent years, clearly indicating the need for investments.”

The Carioca hinterlands

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A resident of Jacarepaguá, Magalhães Corrêa wanted to call attention to the problems of the sertão, and show it wasn’t just some far away place in Brazil’s northeast.


Rio de Janeiro, 1930. Capital of Brazil. Getúlio Vargas, having recently came to power after the coup, reflects and nurtures the nationalist spirit that dominates the country. While the capital thrives with political, structural and social transformations, not far from there life is quiet, limited to a few inhabitants who live with luxuriant fauna and flora. It’s the Sertão Carioca, in the words of the illustrator and self-taught naturalist Armando Magalhães Corrêa, conservator of the National Museum.

While roaming through this sertao – where, after numerous walks, he bought a small farm – Magalhães Corrêa wrote chronicles and composed beautiful illustrations with the tip of a feather. These were published between 1932 and 1933 in the newspaper Correio da Manhã. In 1936, after encouragement from newspaper editor, Ricardo Palma, and intellectual Roquette Pinto, the Imprensa Nacional gathered all the material in a book titled O Sertão Carioca. Although acclaimed at the time, Magalhães Corrêa did not come to be considered an important author, but from the 1990s he began to be object of academic articles. Still, the book is valued more for its details than its style. In one of the prefaces, Roquette Pinto himself states: “The picturesque with which the artist knew how to describe the different and individualized professional types of the Sertão Carioca, makes us forgive the sloppiness of the style.”

Today [2015], almost eighty years later, the Biblioteca Nacional is working on the reissue of the book as part of Rio’s 450th anniversary. It is currently waiting for funding from the Rio de Janeiro Research Foundation (Faperj). If it is published, the work will certainly be sold at prices lower than those practiced by the used bookstores on Estante Virtual, who charge between R$150 and R$300 for a copy [1].

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With descriptions of characters, places and trades that were erased from Jacarepaguá, Barra and Recreio, the “Sertão Carioca” of the 1930s today seems incongruous amid the construction sites and condominiums that occupy the region. After all, it was the West Zone’s very isolated character that attracted its first residents and enterprises. These now culminate in the housing boom and boost in construction, among other factors, for the 2016 Olympics.

What’s still seen a suburb by part of the city’s elite – still the same as in 1936 – has become its center: the Olympic Park, when completed, will be at the heart of Sertão Carioca. Although, in a way, the words of Ricardo Palma, publisher of the Diário Carioca, in the preface of the book are valid:

“Yes, even though Cariocas from the Avenida, from Posto 4, from the chic tea parties and cinemas are amazed, there is a “sertão” in this wonderful land, like in the Amazon, Matto Grosso, Goyaz, Minas, Bahia. Although less wild …”

It’s this “tame” (ex) sertão – in the words of anthropologist Candice Vidal, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais – that we will pass through on this trip through old Rio. We will visit some places mentioned by Magalhães Corrêa in search of vestiges of the Sertanejos that lived there and of the names that today resound like lost places – restinga de Itapeba, ilha do Marinho, represa dos Ciganos —; trades supplanted by ‘progress’ – clog-makers, weavers, ax-makers, wire-makers, potters, fertilizer-makers; And  now-obsolete artifacts – tipiti, biquilha, leira, alforge, bitola. If to us they sound almost foreign, these words were also not well known by readers in the 1930s: no wonder Magalhães Corrêa inserted a “Vocabulary employed and spoken in the backwoods of Rio” at the end of the book, which contains about five hundred terms.

The article continues with several ‘then vs now’ examples. Source (PT)