Baxt UK

Thursday, June 12, 2008


To read listening to Technicolor - Os Mutantes.

This is the salad I had for lunch today. I decided to take a picture of it just because it's so colourful.

I'm convinced that colourful food is healthy - artificial colours not included, of course. I heard that once and the idea stroke me as a very simple, easy to follow concept. If I spent some time without eating dark greens, it's time to buy some rocket, spinach and the like. Missing yellow food? Go for some corn, pumpkins and clementines.

I have no idea of how valid this is scientifically. But since this is not the only compass I use to choose my food, I'm sure it can not do any harm.

(Digression: I've heard of a hippie community in the 70s where people would drop any kind of artificial colour in the food just for fun. The blue rice was a must on almost every meal, until they got tired of that.)

Today's salad is ridiculously easy to make: cut little cubes of cucumber, tomato, muzzarella and red onion, add half a can of tuna, a bit of olive oil, basil (fresh or dried), salt, pepper, and that's it!

(The salad is about 5 weight watchers points. You can use lime juice instead of olive oil and reduce it even more, if you think it's worth it. I always think that good olive oil is worth the calories)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kibe, Quibe, Kibbeh

Living in London, for me and the husband, meant that suddenly we would have to cook our own food. In Brazil we used to live close to my parents, who were always happy if we dropped by to have dinner; once a week the maid would cook for us - most Brazilians have maids everyday - and we went to restaurants a lot.

Here, we were students, penniless and by ourselves.

So I started trying to cook the things I used to eat at my parents' home. One of the first experiments was the quibe (Portuguese spelling), which is massively popular in Brazil, served as deep fried rolls.

My quibe is shaped as a pie and roasted: it's easier to make and healthier.

The recipe:

400g of mince (lamb or beef), an onion, mint leaves, 3 garlics (more or less, depending on how much you like it and if you have a date afterwards), lime juice, half a cup of bulgur wheat (maybe less), olive oil, salt and pepper.

Boil some water (150ml, I guess) and pour over the wheat. Leave it aside for a while.

In a large bowl, mix the mince, lime juice, salt, pepper, wheat (be careful because it can be hot), the chopped onion, garlic and mint.

Pour olive oil on a baking tray (I use a pirex) and place the mix. Dig some furrows on the meat, so it will cook evenly. I usually make it into 6 squares, but you can make more of them. Pour more olive oil over it, and take it to the oven. Cook it in medium-high heat (180 C) for 40 minutes, a bit more or less, and that's it!

Here at home this amount of quibe is enough for two meals for me and my husband.

PS: The quibe (or kibe, or kibbeh) is originally a Lebanese dish. In Brazil we have a massive influence of Lebanese cuisine, but we don't know it: we call all these dishes (kafta, humous, lentil with rice, sfiha and so on) "Arab food". So I had no idea that our main influence was Lebanese until I came to London.

PS2: By the way, one of the biggest fast food chains in Brazil is Habib's - an "Arab food" chain. But I'll talk about that in other post, this one is too long already...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What's wrong with what we eat, TED talk

This is an amazing video about how we eat. His description of Americans' menu from the 50s onwards is creepy, to say the least.

I love the part in which he says that in the old days there were no ingredients, "because the food was the ingredient". I try to follow this at home, although I admit that sometimes eating only the ingredients can get a bit tedious...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Notting Hill carnival

I went to the Notting Hill Carnival. And I understood why Brazil has the best carnival of all. And we grow up taking Brazilian Carnival for granted, but we shouldn't.

The more I live here, the better I know my own country.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The black hole of trivial tasks

It's amazing how an innocent home can be demanding! After spending the previous week doing my work experience, I'm back to my home office. At some point today I had to forbid myself to do any housework because it is a kind of an attraction. Wash the clothes, hang them, wash the dishes, prepare the lunch, put clothes in drawers... When I see, I spent more time doing these things than working!

Last week, at the office, I would find myself a bit desperate from time to time, having nowhere to walk to or nothing else to do but intelectual work. But it worked quite wel, I must admit, because I had no other stuff to do.

So from now on I have limited amounts of time to do housework. If something is not in the right place, it will stay there. But then I star to wonder: stop writing to prepare a jelly is allowed? Oh god, I'm being dragged to the world of housework again! Heeeelp...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Behold my new website!

Finnally it's online! It's colourful, striped and there are some work samples and a CV. Feel free to offer me a job, if it is a good one!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The real tube

THis is something I've been longing for since I arrived here. A real map of the London tube!

And I think this one is beautiful, even though it looks a bit like "underground travel on acid".

So far, the largest version is in this website, and there is also a version drawn over the Google Maps. Extremely useful and would have saved me a lot of time trying to figure out distances (remember, women can't read maps even if they have real distances. If they are beautifully stylized with right and 45 degrees angles, then it is a catatrophe!).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sing, Frodo, sing!

Yesterday Hiro and I went to the theatre to watch the first presentation in Lodon of Lord of the Rings, the musical. Hiro was a little concerned how they would condensate all the story on the stage in just 3 hours. I was more wary if it would be too ridiculous to see the Gollum and Gandalf singing.

Good news: Gandalf doesn't sing. And the Gollum sings just a few verses. Most of the singing is done by the hobbits and elves. Unfortunately the elves are a pain in the ass, but every play needs some beautiful girls with long dresses and even longer hair screaming in a high pitched voice. Otherwise, it would not be Broadway (or West End).

The story is in fact a little crammed but c'mon, did anyone really expect a story that took 9 hours to be told in the screen (in a terribly confusing way, in my opinion), would be clearly told during 3 hours in the stage? I asked Hiro to tell me the plot before it started and it was enough.

So, if you never had the patience to read the book or see the films, don't worry. You probably will feel lost in some scenes, but it is not a huge problem since the scenography is amazing. The production mixes technology and really expensive effects with circus techniques and puppeteering (which I really like). I loved the darkriders, the balrog, the spider and the first appearance of Gollum.

If you're planning to go and you're short of money, I recommend the dinner+theatre deal in - the tickets, plus a good pizza, side salad and juice cost £20 each. Of course the seats are the cheapest ones available (up there in the ceiling of the theatre), but I think it was very good value, and we had no problem to see everything that was going on the stage .

Thursday, May 03, 2007

London doesn't want diabetic people in here

These days, when my parents-in-law were here, I found out that London in a DIABETIC-UNFRIENDLY-CITY! Of course I had never thought about that since Hiro's father, who is diabetic, had a lot of trouble to find decent drinks and food that were sugar-free in London.

I must say I was really annoyed to find out that this city, that is so worried about halal meat, vegetarian meals, vegan options and nut-free and allergy advices doesn't give a damn to the diabetics! Differently from the halal meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, diabetics can die if they eat sugar. It's not a religious or ideological issue - it's more serious than that.

And then we went to Nando's at Baker street and surprise! No sweetener. We asked for a cofee that my father-in-law could not drink. And then the waiter told us that there was no sweetener in the whole restaurant. "Drink it with sugar!" he said.

To add insult to injury, he refused to give our money back. After complaining a lot, he gave us a voucher for another coffee. Not very useful, since I don't plan to go back there... But we must go someday, just to spend that voucher. And then put sugar in the coffee.

But if instead of having a health problem, he said that he only eats chicken that is allowed by God to be transformed in food, slaughtered by a guy who says "Allah" to each one of them at the moment of the killing, then then Nando's would have plenty of Halal chickens to offer!

God, where is the diabetic lobby in this city? How many people allergic to nuts live in London, and how many diabetics? I can only conclude that diabetics are not doing their lobby properly.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Even though you won't understand a word, the images speak for themselves. I used to work in this very street for 3 years, and now my sister is working there, at Globosat, a big television company.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ikea and other businesses in the age of mechanical reproduction*

I have just read an article about the new Ikea homes. My first reaction was: I want one of these! (clean, with big windows and cheap, what else could I ask for?)

Then I came accross this paragraph:
"Such research-led design tends to generate mixed feelings. It may offer domestic solutions, but also suggests a depressingly mechanistic view of humanity, hinting at a monotonous one-size-fits-all suburban future. At what point does responding to society's needs become a form of social engineering?"
Apart from the obvious irony of knowing that many people think that all streets in London look the same, with identical blocks of converted houses, I couldn't help thinking about the strong lobby in favour of the "independent shops" in my neighbourhood.

This old article from BBC describes how local shops are being replaced by Tescos, Boots an others. I once read that "when you buy meat from the local butcher, this money will be reinvested in the community, whereas when you buy meat at Tesco, this money goes away". No doubt, a reasoned and touching thought.

But unfortunately some people don't have money or free time to do that. Tesco is cheaper, it has all the meat, vegetables, magazines and whatever else I need in the same place, is opened 7 days a week and apart from Sundays, from 7am to 11pm. It has no charm at all, but since I pay a fortune to live in this city, I definitely can't afford the charm, like the £45 "on sale" lampshades one block away from home or the great looking madeleines from the shop next corner.

People like me just need Ikea, H&M, Tesco and all the non-glamour kind of business. But of course, if some of these independent shops convince my landlord to reduce the rent to half the price I pay today, I will gladly stuff myself with fantastic-looking homemade muffins and quiches and will surely buy some antiques from Kensington Church Street charming shops. More specifically, these great plates I love:

Disclamer: I hate to complain about London, so if any one of my three readers is offended by my opinions, I'm sorry in advance. After all it was my decision to live in this country - nobody invited or insisted that I left Rio to come here. That's why I feel bad complaining but I think am just being realistic and, well, I am a grumpy person, you know that...

*The work of art in the age of the mechanical reproduction, Walter Benjamin

Friday, March 30, 2007

Pin me up... or not

One of the first things I noticed arriving at the UK was that some British girls have the skinniest legs I've ever seen. No tights, no calf muscles at all. My mother was astonished how boots looked loose on the girls legs, while she had trouble zipping hers. The second thing to note is that apart from the too-skinny ones, there's a lot of slender elegant women on the street. All around.

I've heard a lot about obesity levels and all that, but I can tell people in Rio are more chubby than here. And well, I have to admit, the more I walk around and come across these girls, I remember I am not a slender girl, and probably will never will. Some I feel like I had the biggest thighs in the whole UK.

And since even if I loose a lot of weight I will never be as elegant as a gazelle-shaped woman, maybe I should assume that and develop my chubby pride. Go for the charm of being not thin and not elegant.

I thought many times that maybe I should take some advantage of my strong complexion (hahaha, I love euphemisms!) and maybe try to adopt some pinupish style. After all, pinups have huuuuge tights and strong arms, and never get anorexya.

It sounded like a good idea that could work well, except from the fact that I am too lazy to be a proper pinup girl. I would have to blow dry my fringe, Betty Paige style, use shorts or short skirts, high heels and all this stuff.

Sadly I am not stylish (or patient) enough to be a post modern pinup, so that's probably the closest I will ever get to being one :P

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Other people's living rooms

High in the list of unbritish things I do, there is the habit of peeping inside other people's houses. I have always loved to know were my friends lived, how they organize the things in their living rooms, all these things. And now I have a whole city of ground floor beautiful flats to analyse, by the price of getting a really upset look from an old lady in her couch, or disturbing a family dinner, from time to time.

By the way, among the general advantages of riding a double deck bus (the most important one being that there is no such thing anywhere else, as far as I know), there is the possibility of expanding you peeping universe to the first floor apartments! I admit, I do that. And it's fun.

Considering that I live in Kensington and I walk all the way from Imperial College to here, you can imagine the huge amount of fantastic houses I peep into every day. To me, all of them look like writer's houses, with lots of papers in a table, books scattered, and that kind of mess that gives you the idea that someone in creating something.

There is nothing more disgusting than that kind of decoration where the person hires an architect to create a bizarrely perfect scenario where no one could ever live. There are some houses in Brazil like this, and I'm sure it happens here sometimes. But these are not the rooms I look at.

Of course, some of them look like old badly decorated museums, with oil paintings hanging on the dark papered walls and dark wood heavy furniture all around. It feels claustrophobic just to look at them, and I imagine what kind of person could live there.

But back from the cool well decorated artistic houses. I know probably most of the owners of those houses are not artists. They probably have more boring jobs, but it doesn't matter. I can't help thinking if I will ever have such a nice house, or be a rich writer. I don't want to think about the odds right know, the only thing I know for sure is that if someday, for any reason, I get to be as rich as it takes to live in such a place, I will never see my room as a cool writer's place.

But maybe some curious and ill-mannered journalist, renting a tiny studio and living in a scholarship will walk down the street and be impressed by it. Too sad the journalist won't leave a note to let me know that I finally achieved it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Writers and readers

Now the term is over and the presentation has been presented! I was a bit nervous, worried if everything would go well. It did, and I think our "Ant...icipation" performance was quite nice, at least in my opinion. Now, revision time, more parties than I can attend, and life goes on. I will try to write more frequently in this blog, I just have to think of things that may be interesting for my (few, very few) readers.

I know some people who say they "write for themselves". I think in some cases they are telling the truth, but I'm pretty sure most of them are just trying to play cool.

I'm not cool, you might have already noticed that during the last months :)

One of my uncool habits is that I write to be read. Otherwise I would open a Word file, fill it with my opinions, dreams and whatever, then close the file and save it in some obscure folder in my computer.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

In advance

So far during these months of British life I really have no complaints about British people. They say sorry when they bump on you (and in lots of other occasions) and, even more important, they try not to bump on you on the tube. But apart from all the politeness and sense of humour, there is one British habit that really drives me crazy. Planning everything too much in advance!

I can't just pop up at the salon and have my hair cut, even if the woman that cuts the hair has nothing to do at the moment. I have to call them and set an appointment.

I even like when people tell me about parties that will happen one month from now, but it still sounds strange. How can I know if I can go to a party one month from now? I can assure you I want (or not) to go today, but I don't have a clue if I will have a headache or a terrible deadline for the following day.

And what about restaurants? Half the fun of dining out is when you figure out, by the end of the day "today I'm in the mood for Japanese food!" and then go there and eat lots of sushi and sashimi. Not that I eat out here in London, but that's what I used to do in Rio (when I was rich compared to my current student budget). The only time we have a proper restaurant dinner here we celebrated my birthday one day after the right day, because the restaurant we wanted to go was already fully booked. I wonder if British people has ever heard of spontaneity.

But with no doubt the worst "centuries in advance" thing is buying tickets for concerts. Six, seven months in advance!!! Sometimes almost a year! How can I possibly know if I will still like this band eight months from now? Or that I will be on the mood for music and crowded places that specific Saturday? I don't even know if I will still be at London or someone will have offered me a great job in Reykjavik!

Anyway, it doesn't matter for the planning gods of UK. Buy it now or regret it later. Ages later.

I imagine a single woman living in the UK, who buys tickets months in advance for theatre and concerts. One day she starts to date a nice guy, who becomes her boyfriend. During the first six months of their relationship, he can't go with her to any of the concerts that she booked when she hasn't met him. But they are already buying tickets for concerts the following year, this time planning to attend to them together.

Now imagine they break up. What happens? For the next six months, will she be haunted by the possibility of meeting the guy in all the places they planned to go together? Or should he sell her the tickets? What is the right way to deal with these things? Is there a special kind of etiquette?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nice caipirinha tutorial

Nice video from a Brazilian guy who lives in London. Useful for everybody who wants to make a proper caipirinha (except Neil, of course, because he already knows).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The owl from Luton at the frontier

Funny thing about British people: they correct my pronunciation with no hesitation. Last night I learned how to say "owl" and "frontier". Some weeks ago, when I tried to find out about the trains going to Luton, at least three people I'd never seen before (the lady who sold the tickets and two other people I asked for directions) corrected me immediately after I pronounced the "u" in Luton like the "u" in "nut". Well, two strangers corrected me and I kept saying it wrong. Maybe it means I'm stupid, but luckly there was the third stranger and I finnally understood it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Campaign for British awareness of Brazilian things - caipirinha

Yesterday I went to Guanabara, and I found out that their menu is the source of some misunderstandings expressed by my British friends. Specially when it comes to drinks, so I think it's my duty to try to explain some stuff. After reading their crazy drinks menu and trying their weird caipirinha, I decided make a brief guide of some caipirinha-esque things everybody should know:

- caipirinha: pieces of lime crushed with sugar, then added cachaça and ice. Attention to the crushed part. Untouched limes in the glass are no caipirinha.

- caipirinhas made of other fruits: they are made of other fruits, sugar, cachaça and ice. No lime in it (where the hell they got the idea of putting lime in it?)

- crazy translations: definitely the funniest part of their menu. Açaí is translated as "berry" which is obviously not correct. I don't have any idea of how the caipirinha de açaí looks like, because I don't know if they use the fruits or the cream. In Brazil, it is easier to find the juice or the cream than the fruit itself.

After eating açaí, everybody gets their mouth, teeth and gums black. Something like drinking a lot of red wine, but much blacker. So, after eating açaí, smile really cautiously.

- another crazy translation: "cupuaçú" as "exotic indigenous". Well, first of all: what the hell does "exotic indigenous" mean? If it means something for you, please tell me, because I didn't understand...

Cupuaçú is a nice fruit from the north of Brazil (açaí is also from the North). It has no translation, of course. It is exotic, tastes good and that's all you need to know. If you not curious enought to try it, why bother explaining?

(I didn't know how it looked like until I looked for some pictures to post here... Well, it's not pretty, but who cares?)

- And the most important mistranslation of all: "caju" as "cashew nut". No wonder a friend asked me how they could possible make a caipirinha out of nuts... No, they can't (I hope). Cashew nut is one thing, and cashew is another thing. The caipirinha is made from the cashew fruit.

The yellow thing is the cashew, and the small black thing in the bottom of the fruit is the nut. After it is roasted and salty it turns into the cashew nut you know.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Well well...

Someday I had to start it here. The blog has been created weeks ago, I guess, but I've been postponing the first post because of... well...

Well, I admit. I don't have a good reason but now I'll try. I decided to start it here to practice my written English a little more, because I really want to learn this damn language of you and be able to write articles in English. I mean, decent English.

Why? You may ask (if you don't ask, don't worry, it's not that interesting after all). I guess mainly because I like to get myself into trouble. I already know how to write in Portuguese. I write to some cool magazines in Brazil. So, it was time for me to get another problem to solve, and now here we are.

So, please, dear reader, tell me where my mistakes are. I can guarantee that we'll have lots and lots of wrong prepositions in here.

Thank you very much. Not the smartest first post ever (I mean, the first post with more than two sentences), but enough to say "welcome", I hope.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


To me, it sounds a bit weird to have an Ash Wednesday without having the Carnaval before...