Final Paper: The Exquisite Sociohistorical Intersection of Brasil and Italia by Willi Freire

The Exquisite Sociohistorical Intersection of Brasil and Italia by Willi Freire

Throughout the duration of my life, I have repeatedly questioned the prominence of Italian cuisine within the context of Brasil. Why did I consume so many pasta dishes, pizza specialties, and why do Italians as a community of people still resonate so deeply with me? These are the fundamental questions that prompted me to explore the vast intersection between Brasil and Italia. In this paper, I will examine the foundation of the connection between these two distinct groups historically, while also exploring the anthropological effects on the population of Italian immigrants in Brasil, which was primarily showcased through the formulation of identity premised around cuisine, language, work, religion and many other factors aligning with Italian values as a whole. Furthermore, towards the latter half of this research project, I will delve into modern-day narratives of persons who have reconciled this dynamic themselves, whether it be throughout the trajectory of their life, or through a deeper glance into this beautiful overlap between these two robust cultures that continue to light up the world today.

First and foremost, it is necessary to comprehend characteristics of Italian immigrants and their original points of origins, as these understandings can help one more closely grasp the synergies between these two groups. The segmentation of such immigrants is best seen by their occupation and socioeconomic status overall: Grain traders shifted over to Odessa, while iron miners fled to Belgium and Luxembourg; construction workers, regardless of skill, worked on infrastructure abroad, primarily in Switzerland, Portugal, Egypt and the United States; lastly, the framers followed a movement to the southernmost parts of South America, particularly to Argentina and Brasil. In terms of numbers, the majority of people came from the north, specifically Veneto (see Appendix, Figure 1); the remaining half were comprised of Italians, who originally resided in the central and southern parts of Italy. The way in which these numbers came to fruition can be seen by two distinct transoceanic migration experiences. First, the time window from the unification of Italy and the end of the century, immigrants overwhelmingly came from the North and migrated to Brasil, Argentine and the United States, with a purpose of “own[ing] and cultivat[ing] a piece of land” (Andreola 11).  The second period is known as the Giolitti Era, from the start of the first century up until the adjournment of Wolrd War I—this period is almost entirely comprised of southern migrants who primarily ventured to the United States. To further break up these movements, this paper is more integrally focused on the first movement of Italian migrants to Brasil. Hence, during that first period, there are two natural distributions: firstly, from 1876 to 1896, the flow of immigrants flocked to the southern inhabited lands of Brasil and Argentina, whereas, from 1896 to 1901, was heavily concentrated to São Paulo to the coffee fazendas in the area (Andreola 11). Lastly, Italian immigration to Brasil was characterized as a family-oriented immigration, as opposed to Italian immigration to Argentina and the U.S. which was more so done on an individual basis. These historical insights are imperative in understanding the compatibilities between these two nations as one further deconstructs this dynamic relationship from a cultural perspective.

Furthermore, it is important to understand the key events that sparked Italian immigration to the western hemisphere and other adjacent nations. A Brasilian historian who greatly studied Italian immigration, Paulo Pinheiro Machado, boils down the principal cause of Italian immigration to one concept:

‘“A grande emigração europeias durante o século XIX foi, principalmente, consequência das transformações agrárias processadas pelo capitalismo. O campo tornou-se expulsar de pessoas em todos os países europeus em épocas distintas, com períodos de duração diferenciados. Objetivamente, o que ocorreu em todas as partes, foi a destruição da ordem tradicional compensa, que mantinha um equilíbrio entre a produção agrícola e artesanal durante as diferentes estações de um ano”’ (Andreola 13-14).

This thought-provoking conclusion claims that the culprit of the instability that plagued Italy was premised around its transition to capitalism, which ignited the “destruction of the peasant traditional order,” since now there was no “balance between agricultural and handicraft production during the different seasons of the year” (Andreola 14). Contrary to what one may think, the capitalist tendencies of Italy during the latter half of the 19th century brought in higher taxes, amplified poverty, and many times, led to loss of land for these peasants, especially across the north. Conjunctively, the emancipation of the peasants from the Signore meant that the acquisition of property would now have to be done through purchasing or leasing contracts, but these peasants did not have sufficient capital to successfully acquire property. In turn, other factors including overpopulation, lack of jobs, and disruption in harvesting based on climate change (specifically in Veneto) sparked further migration efforts out of Italy. (Andreola 15). Lastly, poor sanitary conditions further motivated migration since regions like Treviso were depopulated as a result of the cholera disease (Andreola 15). Thus, citizens of Veneto among others were strongly incentivized to move from their impoverished lifestyles and begin a new life in a place that aligned with their cultural values.

It is crucial to spend time on truly understanding the idea that Brasil was seen as a destination country for these Italian immigrants. Brazil ranked third in the number of Italian migrants during these periods. Gianfausti Rosoli claimed that “coloro che si potevano permettere il biglietto per l’America Latina si dirigevano là, dal momento che vi erano prspettive migliori, minori problemi con la lingua, e un adattamento culturale più facile” (Andreola 17). Essentially, there is distinct attractiveness of a country like Brazil to Italians. Brazil was large, relatively unexplored, and after the abolition of slavery, a high demand of working labor. These considerations coupled with the alignment of culture, given the similar romance language, inspired Veneto-residing Italians to migrate with positive expectations about the future. The Brasilians themselves yearned for a new source of labor for their coffee fazendas.[1] Hence, they capitalized on the European urge for a new life by initiating contratos de parceira[2] in which the farmers would pay all moving expenses in exchange for their labor (Andreola 17). The high demand of labor meshed well with the urgency of Italians to make a living; thus, almost 50% of the entire planting and harvesting of coffee in Brasil was completed by Italian immigrants between the years of 1910 and 1918 (Andreola 22). Of course, there was substantial initiatives created by the Italian government in keeping their population intact. They introduced restrictions, such as military obligations prior to departure, and instituted a new law called the Commissariato Generale per L’Emigrazione (Andreola 12). This law enforced inspection commissions in the most utilized ports of Italy. Ultimately, however, a vast majority of the immigrants were successful in reaching their respective destinations. During this time of immigration, there were approximately two and a half million people in São Paulo, almost one million of which were Italian immigrants (Andreola 18). This statistic clearly conveys just how profound the movement of Italian immigrants were in coming to Brasil, particularly to the states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. In Rio Grande do Sul, the opportunity to pave one’s own way was quite the norm. With a lot of land up for grabs, northern Italians capitalized on what they do best by farming and harvesting in the rural lands of Rio Grande do Sul. It is said that Rio Grande do Sul speicifically transitioned from the “monoculture fazendas […] to the polyculture of the Italian immigrants,” who added endless dimensions to the occupation of farming (Andreola 29). Evidently, one can now understand not only the cultural connections between Brasil and Italia but also the practical ones, which emphatically aligned throughout the influx of immigrants in these two major states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.

Moreover, the conception of an Italian-Brasilian identity as a phenomenon showcases just how the intermingling of these two cultures manifested in language, cuisine and overall values. To better solidify the concept of intersection in the culinary space it is important note that São Paulo has more than 51 different culinary traditions today (Andreola 32). Specific to Italy, the translation between regional differences was realized in Brasil with the creation of specialty dishes. This regional attribute allowed Italian immigrants to preserve their identity, not merely as an Italian, but more importantly, as a Venetian or Florentino, for instance. This regional dynamic was certainly embraced by the Brasilians, who were still tracing their own culture themselves. A beautiful quote illustrates this concept perfectly: “A cozinha itliana é na verdade uma cozinha de regiões que precede no tempo à própria nação italiana, regiões que até 1861 eram parte de esatdos indepdenetes e muitas vezes hostis, compartilhando poucas tadições culturais, sem uma língua comum” (Andreola 33). Essentially, this quote in Portuguese encapsulates the multidimensional qualities of Italian cuisine—one in which there isn’t necessarily traceable similarities, one in which dialects of Italian are spoken, one in which circumstantial requirements like temperature and region-specific ingredients are necessary for the creation of certain dishes. As a Brasilian myself, I can wholeheartedly see the resemblance of this value across Brasil, and I am confident that Italian influence had a major part in making this happen, since there are so many clear-cut segments between regional dishes across the nation of Brasil.

So, what are some of the Italian-inspired dishes that extended to Brasil over time? Some of these renowned “Italian” dishes have very faint similarities with actual Italian dishes, which seems to be a recurring theme throughout this course. For example, cappuccino with chocolate and cinnamon is something specific to the Americas and was actually created in Brasil, but it is not common to find it in Italy at all (Gourmet). Secondly, Brasilian fogazza has a religious component in that it is consumed during the Catholic holiday, Festa da Nossa Senhora Achiropita—this dish more so resembles the Italian dish panzerotto, originating in Naples (Gourmet). Now, this Italian dish with a twist has served as the foundation of the modern day Brasilian “pastel,” a country-wide fried and breaded snack that has revolutionized Brasilian cusine, specifically its bakery-like restaurant that have spread their footprints across the globe. Another Italian-inspire Brasilian dish is “frango com polenta,” which is prevalent in Curitiba, a southern Brasilian metropolitan city. While its roots stem from northern Italy, this dish is certainly prepared in a distinct manner, when comparing it to its originator Italian dish. The typical northern Italian version of this dish is polenta and pork as a combination not polenta and chicken; furthermore, the way it is prepared is quite different—in Italy, it’s preferred that the polenta is more firm and thick, while in Brasil it is usually seen as creamier and made with white flour. Next, “molho bolonhesa” is prepared very differently in Italy than in Brasil: While in Brasil the taste is considered more homogenous and standard because it only takes into account ground beef, in Italy this sauce is prepared with beef and pork and takes several hours to complete successfully (Gourmet). Lastly, one of my favorite dishes of all time, rondelli,[3] is said to be an Italian dish; however, there is no equivalent counterpart in Italy, so this dish in particular has molded its own path as part of a Brasilian “Italian-like” dish (Ana). Partly because it is often served in Italian-Brasilian restaurants, this dish uses integral Italian ingredients like ham and cheese and of course, a pasta sheet. It is frequently filled with tomato or cream sauce and it parallels lasagna as a dish, though it is quite different in many ways. As one can perceive, there are never-ending similarities between Italian dishes and Italian-inspired Brasilian dishes; nonetheless, it is also very clear that these dishes have taken a different route in coming to fruition and reflect the Brasilian environment and culture in their overall composition.

More so than any other ingredient, pasta has revolutionized Brasil like no other. From its initial introduction from Italian immigrants, pasta has resonated so beautifully in Brasil that over 99.5% of the population consumes it today (Varejo). On top of this astonishing statistic, Brasilian come in third of global consumers of pasta across the entire world (Globo). When comparing to Italians, Brasilians certainly bring a twist as far as their pasta-preferences. Brasilians tend to like their pasta softer, so not as “al dente” (Maria). Moreover, Brasilians are known for their “creativity” and “imagination” behind their pasta dishes (San Francisco).  While Brasilians love pasta “alho e óleo,” they also prioritize more sophisticated recipes comprising of pasta with lots of assorted cheese, white cream, “crème de leite,” mushrooms, eggs, olives, ham, and other legumes” (San Francisco). The versatility of pasta as an ingredient is undoubtedly one of the fundamental reasons why it has been so widely accepted across Brasil. Pasta is characterized by its “energy source, functionality, ease of combination with other foods” (San Francisco). Evidently, one can see the power and magnificence of pasta across the country of Brasil not only through the countless unique recipes of pasta cultivated in Brasil, but also its overall diffusion across the country, as mostly everyone has adopted it as part of their daily lives.

In demonstrating this beautiful dichotomy in actuality, I came across an interesting interview with Guga Rocha, a Brasilian chef, who spoke on the influence of Italian cuisine in Brazil. He answered some of the more intricate questions about why Italian food so greatly resonates with Brasilians and has stood tall throughout the decades. He claims that it’s because of “the healthy, colorful and nutritive qualities, and also for the emotional appeal that “‘cucina della mamma’ brings to the popular imagination” (Riel-Salvatore). He does an exceptional job at tackling such a complex question, as it is hard to know the exact reasoning as to why it has been such a hit, as so many other cultural food share similar values to that of Brasilians. Furthermore, he comments on how Brasilians have stretched the simplicity that Italians so dearly love, especially in relations to pizza. While the Italians really hold firm to mozzarella, tomatoes and occasionally basil leaves, Brasilians have experimented like no other by topping pizza with shrimp, catupiry (white creamy cheese), calabresa, and so on (Riel-Salvatore).  He then goes on to characterize the city of Sao Paulo as one that serves as the “pizza capital of the world” (Riel-Salvatore). He shares quite a provocative statistic that “there is more pizza sold in Sao Paulo in one night than in three full days in Rome” (Riel-Salvatore). With this bold statement, I could not help but relate to our class concepts on the extension of certain cuisines and the effects of such extension. Like Chinese-American cuisine, Italian-Brasilian cuisine has formed its own path, paralleling Italian food while simultaneous clearly deviating from its traditional zone of acceptance. Thus, this interview further helped me reconcile just how strong Italian influence is in Brasil as a whole, while simultaneously cementing in my head the points of differentiation.

Lastly, I think about my own childhood in consuming certain dishes that without a doubt can be mistaken as a purely Italian dish.  As a young kid, I would eat macarronada, which is essentially any pasta mixed with some kind of marinara sauce and protein—many times, it’s a mix of whatever ingredients are left over from the week. Additionally, this dish is symbolic because it represents the working class and is typically served after the culmination of a hard, gruesome week on a Sunday afternoon. For me, I never questioned the roots of this dish, but after really reconnecting with my identity and questioning the reasoning behind my dietary habits, I have grown to be infatuated by the influence of that dish in my life: It represented my mother’s relentless work—her drive, her initiative, her contagious energy, and ultimately, her outlook on life. Furthermore, my grandma made pasta (usually thin, so spaghetti or angel hair) with white sauce and corn, peas and other miscellaneous ingredients. The dish was always unique each time, and it always turned out fantastic. After careful reflection, I can confidently state this claim: Pasta opens endless doors in allowing for each culture to express themselves, whether it be a symbol of their arduous work or their creative foundation on which they hope to build off of, or perhaps, a combination of the old and new. I cannot help but end this paper with my personal experiences because it solidifies just how impactful pasta’s reach is in touching so many lives. The key is to stop and ask, “why am I consuming this dish?” This inquiry will provoke the discovery of subconscious yet deeply rooted values, and may allow you to feel more connected to your roots.

Thus, in this paper, I have conducted a very thorough sociohistorical analysis on the prevalence of Italian influence in Brasil from its birth. Additionally, there have been connections made on how this vast relationship has impacted individuals’ lives with references from an interview and my own personal connection to this robust intersection. With that, I close with a highly applicable quote that highlights a key takeaway from this course: “The presence of the category “other” permeates all concepts of identity” (Andreola 30).


Works Cited

Admin. “História Do Macarrão.” Portal São Francisco,

Ana. “Rondelli, the Brazilian Italian Dish -.” Italianchips Easy Recipes Tested by Ana, 18 Mar. 2017,

Andreola, Alice. “Being Italian in Brazil.” Eh, Paesan!, 1998, doi:10.3138/9781442674318-fm

“Brasil.” Pasta for All,

“Brasileiro é o Terceiro Maior Consumidor De Macarrão Do Mundo.” G1, 17 Oct. 2014,

Gourmet, Bom. “10 Comidas Italianas Que Só Existem No Brasil: Veja Quais São.” Gazeta Do Povo, 28 July 2017,

Maria, Diga. “The Brazilian Way of Eating Pasta.”,

Riel-Salvatore, Gabriel. “Italian Cuisine with a Brazilian Twist – Interview with Chef Guga Rocha.” Panoram Italia, Panoram Italia, 2 July 2014,

Varejo, FMCG E. “Macarrão: Mais Um Prato Queridinho Na Mesa Do Brasileiro.” What People Watch, Listen To and Buy,


[1] Fazendas: farms.

[2] Contratos de parceira: Partnership contracts

[3] Rondelli: see recipe —


Figure 1: Map showing the distribution of immigrants based on Italian geography

Willi Freire’s Individual Project: Uncovering a Whole New Fresh Perspective with Giuseppe

Giuseppe Derubertis Interview

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Giuseppe Derubertis, a renowned, retired chef, who specializes in Italian and French cuisine. Giuseppe is an Italian himself, born in Campobasso, then migrating to Montreal, Canada, where he completed his culinary education at Académie Culinaire. He described Italian cuisine as highly optical, in which he was able to translate over when mastering French cuisine, since it is not as optical as Italian dishes. Throughout his career, Giuseppe describes his yearning to absorb the riches of each cuisine as its own entity—avoiding meshing cuisines as one. He has worked in the Grand Cayman, Bermuda, Mexico and has even served diplomats in China. However, Giuseppe emphasizes how his occupations gave him “an eye to the world, while opening conversation.” I found this statement extremely powerful because it clearly conveys just how many doors food can open for humans allowing them to piece their personalized definition of the world.

Moreover, he proceeds to claim that food is a common foundation for everyone, despite demographics; thus, throughout his journey, he attempted to “understand everyone’s food.” He gave a beautiful example of what he meant by understanding a certain group’s food: He characterizes Italy as a country of many distinct tastes and nuanced versions of pasta. While the base remains the same, the Northern part of Italy tends to be a bit more adventurous with their pasta sauces in comparison to central Italy for instance, which prioritizes simplicity across the board when making sauces to complement their pasta. By understanding everyone’s native quirks and remaining open-minded, Giuseppe stresses how he was so immersed in his cooking experiences across Italy that he picked up each region’s respective dialect. Deepening his relationship with each culture allowed him to further enhance his exposure and refine his cooking accordingly—ultimately reaching new heights. Hence, Giuseppe characterizes Italian-American food as sauce-heavy, but he was very careful in emphasizing that it does not signify a bad thing—one slogan he referenced is “to each their own.” I found this incredibly telling of how Giuseppe is keen on never pointing fingers and being as open as possible when examining and learning other styles of food, even when they are clearly “inspired by other cuisines.” It is this mentality that Giuseppe instilled in himself, allowing him to fully prosper as a chef in America.

Naturally, Giuseppe highlighted some important differences between Italian cuisine and Italian-American cuisine. Throughout the course, we’ve emphasized synergies and distinctions amongst cuisines, no matter how related or unrelated. Giuseppe pointed out that many restaurants in Italy and across Europe have daily crafted menus. He emphasized how clearly this corresponds to freshness of food. From his own proper experience, he worked at restaurants with 50+ items on the menu. He attests that as one might think these restaurants don’t typically have the capacity and capital to serve fresh food. Giuseppe says, “the costs are just too high […] it simply does not make sense.” So, Giuseppe says it’s common to find restaurants in Europe with a “menu du jour,” containing about 4-5 appetizers, 2-3 entrée plaits, and 5-6 main dishes. He then stated that pasta dishes usually are part of the “entrée plaits” section. Pasta in Italy is usually not consumed as a main dish, but rather, a “dish in between dishes.” This solidified an important concept for me: One must reconsider the way they examine dishes across cultures— of course, there are many similarities between Italian-inspired dishes here in the U.S., but there are also many nuances across the purpose of these different dishes. While in the U.S. the purpose is for the pasta dish to be served as a main dish in adapted quantity, style and overall composition, in Italy pasta dishes may often follow specific weight guidelines and are usually intended to transition between the appetizer and the main course. How astonishing is it to be able to comprehend how these nuances add a whole another layer of contrast?

Moving on to homemade pasta, Giuseppe and I shared the discussion we had in class regarding the prominence of homemade pasta between Italians and Italian-Americans. I mentioned to him our dilemma pertaining to whom homemade pasta is a must in terms of making pasta. Though Giuseppe certainly agreed that many Italian-Americans hope to reconnect with their culture and traditions by making pasta from scratch, he wholeheartedly did not endorse the thought that Italians as a group are shifting away from homemade pasta. He claimed: Though many hub cities like “Milano e Roma” are undoubtedly deprioritizing homemade pasta, the countryside does not follow this trend. As soon as one hits the exterior, they will come across “pride.” Giuseppe boldly exclaims that “pride is homemade” and that the countryside and many families in rural areas refuse to ever compromise their pride, alluding to the connection between homemade pasta and pride. I found this particularly strong because I myself have only seen Italian pasta through the lenses of tourists, which often seem to reflect urban-like restaurants with many options, oftentimes in the very well-known cities. Furthermore, he described the little towns as places where “old lad[ies] are still cooking,” essentially, he means that the values of the countryside still remain, despite the ever changing nature of Italian cuisine as a whole. After this conversation, I am beyond inspired to study this dynamic more closely. What are the tensions between developed cities in Italia versus the countryside? Are there any substantial implications on Italian culture overall from “rapid Americanization” in central metropolitan cities?

Lastly, I wanted to conclude by sharing some pieces of miscellaneous tidbits that Giuseppe so kindly included during our interview. First, he commented on his grandmother’s traditional cooking and the fact that “from nothing she can make a meal.” He claims that her homemade tomato sauce is exceptional and easy to digest because it is made with a food mill. I love how he mentioned digestion, as this was a common theme we came across when studying Italian culture. To further leverage class concepts, Giuseppe also mentioned the difficulty in replicating certain dishes when temperatures are different and the environment in which these dishes are created tend to always be quite distinct. Interestingly enough, he added that there is some grey zone between this concept nowadays because of the liberalization of trade and the boom in the exporting industry. I found this to be a very impactful perspective because from one point of view there is a lot more interconnectivity in today’s times, but I wonder to what extent this connectivity actually translates to more synonymous dishes across borders? I personally hypothesize that there are still inherent limitations because many intricacies cannot be transported over because of the cultural element that is often jeopardized across borders. Whether it be the lack of language or a vital component that is not written or outlined in a recipe, these are some of the nuances I suspect are worthy of consideration. Additionally, Giuseppe contrasted Alfredo sauce versus rosé sauce, which are both considered lighter sauces. Rosé sauce in Italy is actually not made of cream, but simply butter fat and Romano cheese; whereas, in the U.S., cream is used and blended with parmesan to yield the typical, American white sauce. Lastly, he reiterated several times that semolina is the magic wonder behind great pasta.

Thus, I have learned wonders throughout this hour long interview with Giuseppe Derubertis. Overall, Giuseppe considers himself a pasta chef, who has surpassed the threshold in truly comprehending the rich complexities of the noodle. To conclude, I finish off with a paraphrased thought by him: Politics, journalism and now, food are all mixed, and thus, the original foundation is hard to find anymore—“unmask the beautiful product.”

Thank you,

Willi Freire

Macarrão: A Perfeita Combinação do Passado e do Futuro

Macarrão: A Perfeita Combinação do Passado e do Futuro
Pasta: The Perfect Combination of the Past and the Future

In the glum kitchen table on a weeknight
I seldom thought about your reason

I assumed–carelessly, naively, mistakenly
from the beginning, I had you at will
every other evening, “ugh, not again,”
I would murmur to myself,
as my mom brought over a hearty plate
of course, macarrão
“Ninguem merece,” I would passive aggressively comment

Now, I wholeheartedly regret the resentment
Now, I understand your worth
The same God that made you, made me
Yet, I was too blind to see it–to see your worth

I think about your roots, your origin
How you came to be
How you will always come
Beautiful, astonishing, perplexing

I was fortunate to have you so early
I must apologize for my ignorance
I never want to leave you, because
Now, I understand your purpose

The farmers who cultivated you
Who made it all possible
Who made me know you, and now,
Absolutely, love you

Obrigado, macarrão

So much diligence
And, ultimately,
In this very moment,
Between me and
My biteful of macarrão

  1. I chose this piece because it resonated with me greatly. In Saporoso, Jennifer Barone characterizes her relationship with zucchini so splendidly, while also coming to realize the importance of the roots of zucchini and how her connection with the ingredient was made possible. She concludes by citing a few attributes that describe her relationship with zucchini in a powerful, intriguing manner.
  2. Thus, throughout this class, I’ve had a couple of “lightbulb moments:” One of them happened to be the fact that I never consciously realized how much pasta has been part of my life journey. Throughout my upbringing, I would consistently have pasta be part of my everyday meal, but I never understood its values, its roots and ultimately, its effects on my happiness. As my love for pasta grew bigger and bigger throughout undergrad, I was prompted to take this course. It was just recently, as I was studying for my oral midterm that it all came together inside my head. Pasta connects me to some of my most fascinating moments of growing up in a Brazilian household. Now, when consuming pasta, I instantly feel the palpable connection with my past, and most importantly, I stop to think about how pasta came to be, how its creation manifested in my life, and how it will always have a piece of my heart moving forward.
  3. The culture of the original author is inquisitive, its intentional, and its quite mesmerizing. The deep layers of her words go beyond the physical and allows one to create their own picture of the story. The reflective attitude of the author also conveys a “lightbulb moment,” similar to mine, and it translates a certain, unique connection with the food item. Moreover, her ending portion illustrating her relationship with the food item conveys just how much power there is between humans and their food, especially when they stop to think about why that is.
  4. Through my own writing, I learned that I have tendency to describe certain things I find most salient in the most thoughtful way possible. Instead of just using one or two adjectives, I search for a combination of words that work in parallel to convey a critical point to the audience. For instance, together, I use the words “beautiful, astonishing, [and] perplexing.” The combination of these three words emphatically bring about light and spark a genuine interest–that is exactly how I feel when voicing my thoughts about pasta. Lastly, I learned how to use my linguistic abilities to better highlight my connection with the ingredient and with my own culture. When speaking about my family and my roots, I cannot help but utilize the words in the language they were spoken in.  In parallel with the author, I too, love to write poems with a reflective attitude embedded across each line. In my opinion, reflection is one of the most sincere ways to throw your thoughts into a captivating piece.
  5. Yes! The cultural DNA that is threaded across my piece is my Brazilian roots–through language, I (hopefully) convey the potent, powerful effects of pasta in my childhood. Additionally, I hypothesize that there is an element of culture tied into this poem. Her thought-provoking analysis leads me to conclude that there were many “why?” moments from her past that inspired her creation. Perhaps, it was a cultural tradition with zucchini in her life, or instead, it could be a family recipe that calls for zucchini. Uncovering what is under the hood would help readers recognize that culture is a broad concept that incorporates many everyday practices under one umbrella term. Hence, I decided to channel my “why?” moments and put them on paper, which correlated with my cultural identity, as a Brazilian, who never understood the meaning of pasta in my early days up until now. Lastly, I made it one of my goals to be as authentic as possible in conveying my message of enlightenment by utilizing concrete diction to characterize pasta, while also putting my Portuguese language to good use.

Thank you for reading and sharing a piece of my realization alongside me.


The Everlasting, Ever-Evolving Noodle

Inarguably, the noodle spans several thousand years, being a natural phenomenon in the lives of many individuals across the globe. What is it about the noodle that is so special? So magnificent? So persistent, that its legacy lives on and comes to fruition in many distinct, yet powerful ways. How can we define the noodle from a cultural perspective? How is the noodle intertwined with history, culture, identity, among other things? Come on this journey and let’s find out!

Antonio Latini writes “alimentary traditions never remain the same but change with time, becoming modified as they come into contact with traditions” (Latini 157).  He also characterizes the difference between identities and roots and how a “typical” Italian dish, spaghetti and tomato sauce, has really interesting roots that are not necessarily Italian–a prardox indeed! Pasta in Italy serves as a :metaphor for the unity and variety of Italian alimentary styles” (Latini 160). While pasta is singular, it comes in all shapes and sizes and each one has a specific function, or purpose. Thus, pasta is Italy because it encapsulates a “gastronomic identity” that is simultaneously one and multiple… wow, this is powerful (Latini 160). Pasta as an Italian entity allows for this special duality of expressing differences, given the uniqueness of Italian cities and regional cultures/traditions, while also umbrealla-ing Italy into one fundamental branch.

“In the aspect of noodles, Chinese people have lots of customers, which essentially mean ‘human culture’ and ‘worldly common sense’ materialized in the noodles” (Zhang and Ma 210). The important beyond compelling traditions of the Chinese are significantly connected to noodles: longevity noodles, noodles with gravy, dragon whiskers noodles. These are all living examples of the multi-faceted nature of the noodles, which serve one broad purpose: to connect. Noodles in China are so closely associated with life and its biggest milestones that it certainly serves as an extension of the Chinese identity. The endless classifications of noodles and local characteristics within the neighborhoods of a massive country allow us to understand just how integral the noodle is to the conception of Chinese culture: a true foundation that allows for a rich blossoming of other Chinese traditions, like birthday’s, for instance, which are inherently characterized by longevity noodles or the day of Lunar that is comprised of eating dragon whiskers noodles. Thus, the noodle in China represents connection, purpose and tradition that will always live on.

Now, I will shift gears to what I would define the noodle as. Today in class, we came across two interesting definitions, one from the Oxford Dictionary and the other from the Cambridge Dictionary. One cannot help but notice the emphasis on the tangible in these definitions. It is simply describing the noun in such a straightforward manner, yet it leaves out the most integral qualities of the noodle that revolve around not what it is, because it clearly “a lot,” but what is has done and will continue to do historically and culturally. Hence, I would supplement these definitions by honing in on the complexity of the noodle and its ambiguous roots, yet the way its manifested distinct cultures so beautifully within both the eastern and western hemispheres. I would also include a tidbit about the important role the noodle plays in tradition and most importantly, connection. It serves as a perfect example of nations coming together under their love for the noodle, groups of people celebrating important events using the noodle as a medium, and lastly, it shows how identities can come to life with certain types, shapes, nuances of an overarching noodle at the local level. These are some of the intricacies of the noodle I’d hope to convey in a robust definition, which clearly goes beyond the tactile and transitions over more to the abstract.

I have chosen this art piece as a perfect representation of what the noodle means to me because it arranges pasta types, all different shapes, sizes, types into one cohesive unit that functions on its own, a train. This entity is what I believe models the underlying power of the pasta: its multi-faceted nature, its unifying tendencies, its interconnection with culture, tradition and identity, which ultimately equate to one holistic universal concept that transcends boundaries, the noodle from a global perspective.

Must be worth a pretty penne: Mr Pakhomoff, from Perm, Russia, mostly creates motor vehicles such as trucks, cars and bikes
An intricate “pasta piece”


Lastly,  I wanted to close out by touching on the fact that the noodle has evidently become more vastly incorporated globally and has evolved into many debatable nuances–take for example, gluten free pasta, zucchini noodles, among other more modernized inventions. These two examples in and of themselves showcase just how important pasta has become in western culture that food restrictions have paved their way into making ulterior means of engaging in consumption of “noodle-like” food item, which essentially have been looped into the grand definition of noodle. This is simply one finding I wanted to bring up, but there are many, many more vivid examples of just how widespread noodles have become and how different their function has been in coming to fruition recently. It’s a never-ending rollercoaster that only goes up, in my opinion, so I encourage all humans to closely follow the trajectory of the noodle. 

Food as it Pertains to my Life


Image result for feijoada
Image result for pão de queijo
Pão de quiejo
Related image
Pudim de leite

Food is one of few concepts that transcends borders and applies to humanity, almost universally. My unique involvement with food can certainly be considered holistic, given my immigration from São Paulo, Brazil to Boca Raton, FL at the age of 6. The intermingling of many food items was certainly common in my upbringing, but in this blog I will concentrate on some of the fundamental Brazilian dishes that still form part of my life today: feijoada (sort of like a bean stew-like dish), pão de queijo (cheese bread) and pudim de leite (similar to flan). These three Brazilian dishes have carried their weight in not just sustaining me, but bringing me genuine connection to my origins and my overall identity as a Brazilian immigrant. These food items have been integral in shaping Brazil as a country of rich, delicious food that is especially intermingled with its culture and history. Feijoada dates back to slavery in Brazil, when slaves would use the undesired parts of meat to make this highly nutritious bean-like stew. Pão de queijo’s origin is still uncertain, but it has paved its way to being an appetizer-like dish in almost every Brazilian community across the world. Lastly, pudim de leite conjoins Portugal and Brazil in a special manner, as this tasty dessert which was once a secret recipe has connected the former colony with its colonizer in an interesting way. Images of these dishes can be found above, respectively. 

These food items represent a whole lot for me, and as foreshadowed earlier, they have helped me carve out my sense of self early on and have made their way in becoming a part of my everyday meals. Of course, the question that begs is: Why? This is quite a complex question to answer because the reasonings that these foods were presented to me vary and as I think back, it was before my intellect was sharp enough to inquire what the relevance of these foods are. As I have matured and have decided to dig deeper into my cultural background as it pertains to food, I have discovered the prominence of these dishes in my south Floridian environment. While of course these foods are Brazilian by birth, they have made their way across borders and have become ever so common here in the States, where Brazilian communities have arisen. In particular, Saturday’s are “feijoada” days in many Brazilian restaurants here in south Florida. Ever since my childhood, I’d frequently have this dish on a Saturday, but never caught on to the pattern until recently. Furthermore, Brazilians have a tendency to have a small “meal” between lunch and dinner, called café da tarde, which is sort of like a mid-afternoon coffee break. These “meals” often combine coffee with bread–almost always, during my upbringing, pão de queijo was present, and my eyes would sparkle in joy as I heard the oven *ding*, and I quickly raced to the kitchen to fearlessly devour them one-by-one, time after time again. For every savory dish, comes an even better sweet dish, so the Brazilian say. A complete meal was something that was constantly emphasized as I grew up; thus, I would look forward to eating pudim de leite after (almost) every meal (regardless if lunch or dinner), no matter the occasion. This dish represented a sense of completion for me, as it usually came last, and I was always the most excited to consume it. Pudim validated my Brazilian roots because it allowed me to “show off” my Brazilian roots by having friends join me in family events, special occasions or during a weekend trip to the Brazilian buffet 5 minutes from my house. Not one non-Brazilian friend of mine disliked the dessert, and it allowed me to share a part of my culture with important people in my life, as it slowly became commonplace across south Florida, and even my classmates knew exactly what it was and how delicious it was. The combination of these three dishes represent my strong foundation in my Brazilian roots, and my ability to translate elements of my culture in such easy, simple ways. They are the reason for my confidence and my reverence for my culture and the place of my birth. As briefly mentioned earlier, these dishes in of themselves have also taught me historical lessons about their creation. Feijoada is noteworthy for its connection to slavery and the abolishment of slavery, and ultimately, the survival of former slaves. The fact this dish has become so incredibly prominent across Brazil leads me to embrace it as part of my own diet even more because of how en sync it makes me feel with my Brazil, regardless of the distance that separates me from my home country. These are a couple of the dishes that will forever be a part of my life, and I will continue to introduce people to them–of course, for their tastiness, but more importantly, because of the door it can open in letting people understand another layer of my multi-faceted identity. 

The food scene in metro Atlanta intrigues me, too, because like south Florida, it is quite all encompassing and intertwined with history, immigration and culture. Particularly, I would like to hone in on Marietta as being a robust Brazilian hub that parallels my neighborhood in south Florida, given how many Brazilian restaurants and bakeries are around. This semester, I had the pleasure of attending a Brazilian restaurant with my Portuguese class, and believe it or not, we ate feijoada on a Saturday! Immediately, I felt a revitalized sense of connection with my culture that often starts to fade in bits and pieces, while I am at school. Conversing in my native language and absorbing the environment of the restaurant, I felt at home and at peace. The scents resonated with me because images of my mother and my grandmother cooking Brazilian food suddenly filled my mind, and I couldn’t help but feel joyous and thankful for who I was. Moreover, the Atlanta food scene has taught me just how powerful food is in building community and bringing the sense of home to a possibly very foreign place for individuals. In my opinion, Buford Highway serves as a perfect example of how these communities culminate together and form connection. In a place where people are from every which corner of the world, Atlanta allows people to seek a piece of familiarity in terms of food. Whether it be Ethiopian, Korean, Brazilian or fusion-like combinations, Atlanta has exposed me to cultures I have never even previously heard of, all through the medium of food. To close out, I focus on one experience I had with exploring the food scene in Atlanta: I went to get pho with a friend of mine early during my first-year at Emory on Buford Highway, and one of the managers came over to my table and whispered to us that “college students are lucky to be able to taste some of the world’s best food right at their fingertips.” Right after this comment, I took a hearty spoonful of my pho, and I silently agreed because he was absolutely correct–that pho was fantastic, and it was the first time, I’ve ever had pho. Thus, during that moment, I made a vow to continue exploring and making the most of the foodie hub we are fortunate to have in Atlanta. 

PS: Click here for a pão de queijo recipe. It’s fantastic, and you will not regret making it.