“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyan
We experienced so many kindnesses at the hands of Brazilians. Here is one we can add to the others. This young lady worked with her sisters and parents on a coffee farm—hard work with pay something akin to slavery. While I was with her family, she handed me warm bread from this oven. Oh yes, there was a bit of ash on it for a fire is made in the oven to heat it for baking. I assure you the bread was delicious.
This same girl went and picked oranges from a tree for me to take along home. That fruit sure tasted great for it ripened right on the tree in a land where there is lots of sun.
For me, there was no better meal than a sandwich called, “bife a cavalo.” A rude translation means “beef topped with a fried egg.” The best place to buy one was a small restaurant on the public park in front of the great Cathedral da Sé. Every time I was in downtown São Paulo I had to stop there for a “bife a cavalo,” whether it was meal time or not.
It took us time to begin to like certain fruits. The mangos took some liking for they seemed to taste like axel grease—not that I am sure what that grease tastes like. But we soon developed a taste for mangoes. While interior one day a man from a coffee farm dropped off a half sack for us to enjoy. Here is Dona Irene with some of the fruit she has just purchased at the local street market. Dona Irene is considered the mother of our Brazilian church.
Of course every meal and every visit, whether in our own home or that of another, had to have a demi-tasse of coffee. Before the coffee gets to the roaster there is so much work in the fields. How I’d like to drop by one of the small shops on a São Paulo street and there stop for a few minutes to enjoy the coffee.
Rice and beans were one of the important foods and still they still are for Brazilians. Rice and beans might seem so bland and ordinary. Not so for our family. We all loved their rice and beans with its seasoning. It was the staple of everyone’s food planning.