Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 47

It was Summer of 1968. I was 10 yrs old and I was given a choice of what extra curricular I wanted. My older sister (4 yrs older) chose horseback riding. I chose tennis. We were living the rich life in Brazil. My dad was a college professor and took a foreign assignment through the University of Wisconsin with the US AID program. I remember the first time we arrived in the southern most state called "Rio Grande Do Sul" we had no car and they just gave my dad a Willy's Jeep. It had the US AID shield which was two hands shaking on the door like I edited in below. We were waiting for our sea freight which included our 1968 Buick Skylark. An oddball vehicle in Brazil. I remember some nuns coming up to it and looking in smiling and asking me questions when it was parked and I was waiting for my parents in the car. Automatico?  They had a lot of German and Euro immigrants in their history, a lot like in the US. They even had an Independence. And the city we lived in Porto Alegre, had skyscrapers and everything (to quote Stevie Wonder's first words in the song "Livin' Just Enough).

The currency was 5 of theirs to 1 of ours. We were members of a club. It had clay courts and a swimming pool.  I had tennis lessons and got really good.
The club had a bar for my recently "jet set" parents and there was a kitchen where we (even the kids) could sign for food and drinks. I asked an American kid who was already there when we went to order a drink, how do you say Pepsi in Portuguese. He said "Pepsi". I was impressed. And it was Pepsi.

They did not have hamburgers. Rio Grande Do Sul is the "Texas" of Brazil. Their cuisine is like barbecue because of it being the meat and cattle hub. Their version of hamburger was a steak sandwich called a "Baru". It was like 5 ounces in a baguette bun with cheese. Instead of french fries, they had fried potato chips. I would watch them slice 'em slim and then drop them in oil. They were like Hawaiin chips,  but hot fresh, thick and crispy. They also had ice cream and cake stuff. The first month my dad learned you don't give kids credit at the fountain and grill!

Brahma Beer is 8th largest world seller.
Every Sunday they had a "Churrasco"  which is a meat barbecue with choice cuts of beef, pork and chicken skewered with a stick.  There was potato salad, heart of palm with tomato (my favorite) and leaf salad. They had this side stuff that was some grain that had the consistency of saw dust. I forgot what it was called, but it was used to absorb the meat juices and I guess eat?. Every Sunday I ate this way for almost 4 years.. The picture in the side there is how Gaucho's party. Brahman cattle is the primary source of  meat and milk there at the time. The beer got it's name. Our club had single sticks about a yard long with a generous cut of meat. I still remember the cook Eduardo (who was also a bartender) and the one inside was Maria. I knew them well. They are definitely meat eaters in RGS, Brazil!

Reason being I got tennis lessons, was to get me active after all that porking. Not enough, but by the time I had reached 14, I was dieting with my mom and her special pills called Lipenan so I could go back to the states later that year being skinny. Looking back, I am pretty sure they were amphetamines. I remember when they went low, I hid the remaining ones. My mom asked where they were screaming and I ended up giving in, but they were stuck in my favorite piggy bank. The hole in the bottom was big enough to push the pill bottle in, but getting it out was not gonna happen. My mom waited a bit for me to try to get it out, then grabbed it from me and threw it on the parquet floor where it broke into pieces. She was fiending for her dope, I guess. LOL.  I definitely think they were amphetamines. Back in 1972 and drugs there are over the counter, but we had Doctor friends (like Elvis lol). I was a 14 yr old pill popper with adult supervision AND Doctor prescribed. Probably Dr. Marcus who also pierced my ears. We soaked up that rich living for 4 yrs.

I came back to the states a size nine at 5 ft 5 inches. It was a culture shock. We were back to common folks and I was not the popular Americana, like I was there. I knew how to play tennis really good, though. (Club champion. Old ladies (like me now)  used to want me as their doubles partner)!

I had to make some deviled eggs for lunch since I saw those ones on Carb Tripper.


  1. That's a great story. When I look back I see all the red flags from childhood's bad eating habits. But I was so thin my ribs stuck out so it was never a worry. Would you believe Dr. Marcus pierced my ears too in NJ? What a hoot!!

  2. Great story! Loved it! It's amazing how different things were. You made me remember my friends first car that we rode in, a 71 Buick Skylark. As old as we were but it was a tank!

  3. What an interesting childhood! Thanks for telling us about your time in South America.

  4. loved to read your story! Isn't it funny what our parent's did for weight loss and brought us along with them?? I remember the orange diet my mom was on, and consequently all of us kids were on.. oranges and carrots. That's it. Crazy stuff!

    Glad to know you put the Rhode's bread down the other day! Great job!

  5. great story and you should pick up the tennis again, the secret to exercise is finding something you enjoy so it doesn't seem like work!


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