Cheesebread.

I help out in some classes at an English school across the street from my Portuguese school. (There are, in fact, approximately 5 English schools in walking distance around here.  I’m surprised more people can’t speak it!)  It’s one of the highlights of my week, not just because I have a chance to speak English for a while and give my mushy brain a break, but the students and teachers are all super awesome people and I have a lot of fun with them both in and out of the school.

During one of the classes, we came up with the fabulous idea to have a cooking-themed class, and one of the students, Marcos, offered to teach us how to make the original Minas Gerais pão de queijo - one of the iconic Brazilian foods.  And luckily for you all (sort of, because you might find yourself addicted), I managed to get a copy of the recipe in English!

Minas Gerais Pão de Queijo (Cheese bread)

Ingredients:
3 cups sour mandioca flour (polvilho azedo)
2 cups of grated semi-aged cheese (If you can get it, get the cheese from Minas Gerais; otherwise, a semi aged cheddar should suffice)
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of salt
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees.
Put the flour in a bowl. Heat the milk, oil and salt until it just starts to boil. Pour the heated milk mixture over the flour to scald it and then mix them to start forming a dough. Mix in the eggs until combined, followed by the cheese and mix thoroughly. The dough should not be too sticky; add more flour if necessary.
Roll the dough into small 1 inch balls and place in a baking pan or cookie sheet. Heat until they start to turn brown on the bottom and are the consistency of bread on the top. Remove from oven, let cool a few moments and eat! For a truly cheesy experience, add some of any leftover grated cheese inside one of the rolls.

The trick to this recipe I think is getting the right flour. It is a very fine sour flour called ‘polvilho azedo’ (Hikari makes a decent one, and you can find it on Amazon). I’m not sure exactly what it’s made from. The cheese is cheddar-like but white; a white cheddar or similar aged cheese should work if you can’t find ‘Minas cheese’ from Minas Gerais (although Marcos insisted that it was the key ingredient!)

Here’s a couple pictures of the cheese bread making:

Language.

original_headache-cat

I have apparently broken my brain.

No really, it’s broken.  I imagine it was all resilient and springy a month ago, soaking up new information happily and processing it with alacrity.  But it got fuller, and fuller, and more and more new information – absolutely necessary information for continued and improved human interaction – kept being added.  Kind of like when you put more and more and more sugar in your tea until the tea just won’t get any sweeter and really tastes like liquid teeth rot by this time and you still have clumps of sugar floating around in your tea laughing at you.  My brain has developed soft spots that refuse to learn anything more.  I can sort of feel them, one in front of my right ear, and another one all the way in the back on the left.  These spots flop down on the ground and hold their breath until they turn purple and when that doesn’t work they just turn their back on me and stick fingers in their ears and cry “LALALALALALA I’M NOT LISTENING LALALALALAAAAA”.

Broken.

Most of this past week has been like this.  I think my teachers are starting to worry about me, but they keep saying it’s normal and this sort of thing happens and it’ll pass.

But until then I could really use some aspirin.

Valentine Pub Crawl

Just in time for Valentine’s day, I submit to you, worthy readers, a valentine pub crawl.  Except instead of crawling pubs, I’m gonna crawl countries.  And instead of sampling libations*, I’m gonna swirl words of love around my palate in different languages, see if the mouth feel is nice.  Test the bouquet.  See if the tannins are overpowering.  In homage to Valentine’s Day, join this humble, hopeless romantic as we journey ’round the world in my flying gondola of love. 

*False advertising, you say?  Whatev.  Deal w/ it.

Let’s start in that passionately contested northeast corner of Spain, where they pronounce Barcelona with the c sounding like -th, Catalonia:

T’estimo (Catalan) – Short and sweet.  But not too sweet.  Sounds a bit fiduciary, in fact.

Wo ai ni (Chinese (Mandarin)) – Falls off the tongue with a touch of earnestness.  Interesting, for the Chinese to sound earnest in love.

Jeg elsker dig (Danish) – Full and robust.  Would sound great yelled from below a balcony, I’d wager.

Ik hou van jou (Dutch) – Melodic, strong, with a nice rhythm.  I think Dutch singers probably have the edge, here, no?

Je t’aime (French) – Hello, this is the language of love, right?  Making the knees of women weak for centuries.

Taim i’ ngra leat (Irish Gaelic) – Probably one of the hardest languages to learn, but oh so rewarding. This is the one that you yell out amidst the fields at twilight, and who’s to say if your heart’s true love is the girl or the island.

Ich liebe dich (German) – Frankly, German is not the most pleasant on my ears.  But I’m sure if you’re German, this is one of the nicer things you get to hear.

S’agapo (Greek) – Agape! Greeks, who gave us Aphrodite, Zeus, Adonis, Cupid, the Muses, and at least three different words for love (agape, eros, philia, and possible thelema and storge).  Truly this country has inspired love in the world for eons.

Szeretlek (Hungarian) – Whoa.  And I thought the only cool thing to come out of Hungary was Béla Bartók.  They don’t fool around when they say I love you.  They fucking mean it.

Ti amo (Italian) – Ah, the Italians.  I do have a fondness for the Latin languages, I must confess.  They all just sound…right.  Like they invented the idea of love, and the way they say it is the way the universe would if it spoke in words.  They don’t call them the Romance languages for nothin!

Ya tebya liubliu (Russian) – Not what I would have expected the Russian to sound like.  Sounds a bit like you’re talking to a pet instead of your lover.  Meh.

Kocham cię (Polish) – Sounds a bit demanding, but musical.  Still better than the German, if you ask me.

Eu te amo (Portuguese) – This is my favorite.  But then, I’m biased.  I freaking love this language.  Eu te amo, meu amor…Sinto saudades de você.

Techihhila (Sioux) – Native American languages are so awesome.  You can almost touch the desire in this one.

‘Rwy’n dy garu di (Welsh) – You know, if I could figure out how to pronounce this, I bet it would sound just beautiful.  I’m sure my pronunciation is all fuckered up, and it still sounds poetic. 

 

Well, my star-crossed lovers, I hope you enjoy my little love sampler.  This Valentine’s day, when you whisper sweet nothings in your true love’s ear, try something a little exotic for a change, and whisper one of these.  Impress him or her with your worldly talents.  Maybe these exotic words will inspire you and your babe to try other exotic pursuits in the name of love, right?

Peace and love to you all, this day and every day.