I’ve had some nasty stomach problems since Thursday night. Cramps and more. No details, please. Let’s just say that my food and beer consumption have gone way down, and I’m saving money. Ah, but so is my music consumption. I’d wanted to go out the last couple of nights to listen to samba, but have not had the fortitude to do so. A shame, because I’ve missed a couple of nice shows. I finally asked a guy at the hotel about some remedy and he sent me to a pharmacy down the street to get some meds. The pharmacist handed me a couple of boxes, both very scientifically pharmaceutical looking, one is to rebuild the nice bacteria in the gut, the other turned out to be basically Imodium. I think they are working. But not as quickly as I’d like. I came to the realization last night that, in fact, maybe my problems stem from drinking tap water which I think I’d had no problems with in the past. I’ve switched to bottled water for the last few days, so maybe it will clear up soon on its own anyway. Could be my immune system was smashed from my two week stay in the hospital last year?
A few odds and ends:
As this belly bursting began on Thursday evening, I was catching some good food and music. Dinner at the legendary Bar Brasil, an old German place in the Lapa neighborhood.
I had a smoked pork chop (Kassler), creamy black beans (called tutú) and collard greens. It was nice, but the smoke flavor was not very pronounced. But the chopp was good and very cold. The waiters are all a bit gruff here, legendarily so, but they get away with it, maybe it’s become traditional. You have to pass an asshole test to get a job at Bar Brasil, but I think the last test was administered more than 30 years ago. Yes, they are that old! Still, the place is an experience and should not be missed. The old wooden refrigerator next to the bar is a working relic!
And they also have one of the last chopp taps made of solid bronze (torre de bronze) which must be 60 or more years old. Great place all ’round.
Across the street was the real target of the evening, a club called Carioca da Gema, one of the original anchors of the Lapa samba revival of the late ’90s. I have to say their music programming has fallen a bit, but it’s still ok. I wanted to see a group called Sururu na Roda which features a talented young woman named Nilze Carvalho. She can work in samba and choro with her cavaquinho; she made her first recording at about age 13 or something ridiculous, and has been on a steady climb ever since.
I found the music ok, but nothing amazing. But by midnight, the size of the noisy crowd made listening impossible (most folks go to socialize, not to listen or dance) and the place become untenable for an old curmudgeon like me. So I left. Good thing, because by the time I opened the door of my hotel room, I had only seconds to spare before a disaster would strike. Thanks, noisy Cariocas! You saved my ass! Literally!
Oh, I guess it was lunch on Thursday when I went to the pleasant Churrascaria Majórica in Flamengo. These days, most churrascarias (churrasco refers to a southern Brazilian gaúcho/cowboy BBQ) feature the rodízio style (rodízio sort of means round and round, which is what the waiters with swords do) of serving, meaning never-ending supplies of meat on swords (really, just long skewers) parading around the room, flopping meat by endless request onto the plates of gluttonous diners (I should talk!).
These have even become popular in larger cities in the States, but I don’t like this way of eating. It’s really sort of obscene. (I should talk!) But the Majórica doesn’t have a rodízio, but rather, it’s and ala carte way of ordering off a giant menu. Their meats are fantastic, and they’re all grilled over white-hot embers. The results are splendid, absolutely splendid. I had a mini picanha (picanha is a cut of meat we don’t have, but I think it’s related to sirloin) and a skewer of grilled vegetables. Both were excellent, perfectly cooked, and I left nothing on my plate. Yummy. Another strong recommendation.
Let’s see, Friday was sort of a wash, except for the Paulinho da Viola rehearsal. I didn’t have lunch, and my galeto dinner was documented in a previous post. Hmmmm. Saturday, since it was to be my last Saturday in Rio, I had to force myself to eat a last feijoada. It was difficult. But the two Jorges (Jorginho do Pandeiro and Jorge Filho) treated me to lunch in a very nice, quiet and clean part of the Laranjeiras neighborhood. I ate some of the food, but I really didn’t have the inspiration. I guess it was good, but not as tasty as Lamas. But the company was fantastic. Jorge Sr told lots of stories about music in the 1940s and ’50s in Rio, choro and samba. And was constantly screwing with me by slightly mispronouncing words and asking me if I liked such and such. The mispronounced noun almost always had to do with the mail organ. He explained that this joking is something that comes from long hours in the recording studio during which the musicians needed someway to keep it interesting during the breaks and down time. Great lunch even if the food was almost repugnant. Too bad, I’m sure it was actually decent.
Last night, a bowl of simple chicken soup was called for after I took my drugs. And then, back to the hotel to continue my recovery.
(more on this post later on Sunday…more observations on Brazil)