Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves brought from Africa, especially from present day Angola some time after the 16th century. It was developed in the region of Quilombo dos Palmares, located in the actual Brazilian state of Alagoas, and has great influence on the Afro-Brazilian generations, with strong presence at the present day states of Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro.

Participants form a circle and take turns playing musical instruments (such as the Berimbau), singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, and extensive use of sweeps, kicks, and headbutts.capoeiraslaves

Over the last three decades, capoeira has spread itself throughout the whole world, especially in the U.S. It all began when capoeira masters started to immigrate to North-American cities like New York.

Speaking of it, New York Daily News has just posted an article describing a capoeira group created by Brazilians in NYC as the new Brooklyn craze:

“There is the music, heavy on drums and the plaintive timbre of the berimbau, an instrument that looks like a longbow with a gourd attached. Music is the foundation for each workout. And there is the movement – a seamless string of hand stands, kicks, blocks, forward and back rolls, following one after the other in high-energy, acrobatic dance.

Hardened heels slice the air inches over a just ducked head. Foreheads dart in to lightly touch chests, playfully warning of the damage a head butt would have inflicted if violence had been its intent.

Roda_de_capoeira2It all looks so easy as the couple cavort around their Capoeira Brooklyn studio in Park Slope.

‘It is easy, once you learn’, Costas said. ‘Your body has to take time to adjust to the art.’

Right. Try doing a hand stand, dear reader. Then roll out of that and execute a leg sweep that takes your opponent to his or her knees.”

Well, it takes indeed a little bit of flexibility! Click here to see the full article published in the New York Daily News website.


A real Brazilian boteco - in Brazil, of course

A real Brazilian boteco - in Brazil, of course

A boteco is a casual place to eat and drink with friends and family in Brazil. Some use crates for tables and chairs, others have plastic furniture with beer logos. Here in Miami, Boteco Brasilian Bar was built on a vacant lot two years ago by Italian Stephano Carniato, who also owns Piola pizzerias in Miami and abroad. He lived in Brazil and fell in love with the culture. When he returned to Miami he decided to create a boteco that looked and felt as if it were transported from Brazil.

Carniato succeeded, and most nights the crowd — a mix of Brazilians and other South Americans, Americans and Europeans — spills from the wood deck out back, covered patio in front and interior bar, where the buzz of conversation and clink of bottles is part of the soundtrack. The place is operated by Renato Scarcello from Sao Paulo, who came here 13 years ago and is a friend of Carniato’s.

Brazil’s iconic cocktail, the caipirinha (made with muddled limes, sugar and a shot of cachaça), goes well with petiscos (appetizers). The favorite at Boteco is the frango passarinho or “little bird”, small bits of deep-fried chicken with garlic and parsley.

There also are rice dumplings (fried rice and cheese balls), shrimp sautéed in olive oil with fingerling potatoes, and chicken croquettes with catupiry (Brie-like Brazilian cream cheese), all good with hot sauce.

From the grill come mahi-mahi steaks, shrimp, sausage, chicken and picanha (sirloin steak). On Saturday feijoada (pronounced feesh-wada) is served. This stew of black beans and pork parts is derived from a slave dish and is served with rice, collard greens, slices of orange (to cut the richness), and farofa (seasoned yucca flour) for sprinkling over it all.

On Sunday, the parking lot will be closed and a tent erected to house the Brazilian Independence Day party (the actual date is Monday), complete with live music and samba dancers in a carnival atmosphere. Via Brazil!

*Linda Bladholm wrote this article for The Miami Herald.