I stuffed another pao de queijo into my mouth.
This was the moment I had been waiting for after the 7 hour bus ride from Rio to Belo Horizonte yesterday.
I was full but I couldn’t resist yet another one. This is definitely my last I think to myself as I notice the number of cheese breads had dramatically decreased.
“Have some more!”
Vivi tells me as I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.
“No, really, I’m satisfied!”
I respond. She tells me,
“in my house it would be a shame for us if anyone eats and isn’t satisfied.”
This sort of hospitality is very familiar.
No, I’m not back home in Ghana with aunties feeding me until I burst. I’m in Minas Gerais, in the humble home of Vivi and her family who live in the suburbs of Belo Horizonte.
Vivi and I met in London over two years ago. We attended the same Gym, doing boxfit and LBT classes every week. We got talking and became friends. When she left to return to Brazil we kept in touch via email. I told Vivi my plans to be in Brazil during this period. She wrote;
“Christmas is a time for family here in Brazil…”
and in the next email;
“you’re welcome to spend it with us if you like.”
And most grateful I am for that invitation!
Today is the 24th December. The Christmas party will be held at Aparecida’s house tonight, Vivi’s neighbour. We’ve already been by to give her gifts (and I got a sense of what’s to be expected as her stove was full of pans cooking- food and lots of it!)
That evening reminded me a lot of my favourite festival in Ghana- homowo (celebrated by Gas meaning ‘hooting of hunger’). During this period your home is open and anyone (invited or not) can come in and enjoy kpeple and palm soup.
We started our night at Vivi’s aunt’s house. There the BBQ was already hot as meat and chicken was readily being served. I helped myself to some rice, farina and tomato salsa. There was something about the farina that reminded me of kpeple (made from corn) and I asked if it was made from corn as it looked almost alike. It wasn’t. But that wasn’t enough to stop me from helping myself to seconds as I made comparisons to Ghanaian food. Vivi’s aunt proudly announced she is a “Bahiana” as she handed me the pepper sauce.
The next stop was Aparecida’s house, where I’m sorry to admit, I helped myself to more food! Christmas was ushered in at midnight and we hugged and wished each other a Merry Christmas…
It doesn’t end there! We were back again on Christmas morning at 9am for a Christmas Breakfast and to celebrate Jair’s birthday. I went to him and said;
“en Inglese- ‘Happy Birthday!”
He received my wish with a hug.
The food was laid out, and once again, it wasn’t just my eyes that got a feast- my stomach did too! I got a sense of community spirit- everyone was like one big family!