Café Olé!

Coffee had long been on my mind when thinking of Brazil, right up there with cachaça and Carnaval among the “C” words, so I was fully primed to appreciate the following passage in Anthony Bourdain’s tasty little collection of out-takes, The Nasty Bits (2006:215):

“At first look, Brazil seems to be a utopia of race mixing and integration. Black, white, every hue of coffee-colored person, seem to hang out, intermarry, make love, and socialize with little or no distinction. I’m sure it’s not all that simple, and there are centuries of backstory, but it looks idyllic, particularly compared to New York.”

The “coffee-colored people”—I like that phrasing a lot. Bourdain aptly qualifies his statement: yes, it was a first look (after all, that is what he does) and he knows there must be a complex, centuries-long backstory (there is), but from a New York minute point of view, Brazil is a utopia of race mixing and integration as reflected in the multitudes he observed while visiting Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s largest public park.


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