Today is the last day of Brazil's annual orgy of celebration, Carnaval. For the past four or five days (or longer, depending on where in Brazil one is celebrating) all the cares of the world have been shoved aside for the celebration of worldly joy that is Carnaval in Brazil. Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the pentitential season of Lent begins. But until then, Brazilians everywhere - in Brazil and overseas - don't want to hear about cares, woes or problems. The word on everyone's tongue is "alegria", which means joy, pure joy.
Flavors of Brazil will be in Rio de Janeiro throughout the Carnaval season, and in posts to come will try to provide some insight into the celebration. Frankly, however, Carnaval has very little to do with food, and less with gastronomy. Food, during Carnaval at least, is seen only as fuel to keep the body awake, alert and dancing. Drink, on the other hand, is an essential part of what Carnaval's about, and it's mostly beer.
For those who are curious about what Carnaval in Brazil is and isn't (there are many misconceptions about Carnaval), I recommend taking a few minutes to watch the YouTube video embedded below. Taken in Rio de Janeiro's Sambodromo, where for four nights during Carnaval the city's samba schools vie for the honor of being named the best of the year, the video gives a hint, though only a hint, of the flavor of Rio's Carnaval. The video shows the parade of one of the most famous and oldest of Rio's samba schools, Beija Flor. Beija Flor literally means "flower kisser" and is the Portuguese word for the hummingbird.
No matter where in the world you are today, or whether you're celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Fasching in Germany, Carnivale in Venice, or just another Tuesday in many corners of the world - Flavors of Brazil wishes all it's readers a Feliz Carnaval!