Monday, 11 April 2011
Tales from a London-living Brazilian
One of the great things about starting Born in Brazil is the number of Brazilians I’ve met who live in London. One such Brazilian is Fabiana Pio, who has been living here for six years. I decided to interview her to give you a flavour of how a Brazilian sees London and some advice on what to see and do in Brazil.
What made you move to the UK?
I always wanted to have an international experience, and after some years working in communications in Brazil, I really saw the need to visit other countries and cultures, so I decided to move to London to study and travel around Europe.
What do you do in London?
At the moment, I’m studying for an MA in Journalism, which ends in July this year. And then, I want to do more courses in fashion. I love my blog FaBoutique. It’s all about fashion and trends in London. I try to establish a link between London and Brazil, as I’m Brazilian. I write in English and Portuguese. I take street style pictures, cover fashion events, catwalks and Fashion Weeks. And I have a weekly Fashion column in Brazilian News, a newspaper circulated in London, which I love as well.
Which part of Brazil are you from? What’s it like?
I’m from São Paulo. I love it there because the city never sleeps – it has amazing restaurants, bars, shops etc. You can find everything there. And it’s just one hour and a half away from the beach.
What do you miss about Brazil?
I miss the sun, the beaches and swimming pools all year long - I love sunbathing. For me, winter in the UK is still hard, but I’m working on it. The other things are my mother’s food, my family and my dogs.
What do you love about the UK that is different/you couldn’t find in Brazil?
I love the individuality here in London. You have the freedom to be whatever you want to be. I love the language – it’s so straightforward – and the amazing architecture, the history, the museums and exhibitions.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to visit Brazil?
I would suggest visiting the south of Brazil, such as Florianopolis and all the beaches and cities along the coast of the Santa Catarina state – beautiful beaches in a quiet atmosphere.
An awesome place to go is the Fernando de Noronha island, off the coast of Natal in the north of Brazil. It’s a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can swim with dolphins and enjoy diving in a very transparent and blue sea, among all sorts of wildlife.
Try the local food, too. If you are not vegetarian, I would suggest the traditional dish “feijoada” (a black bean and pork stew served with rice and kale). It’s delicious! (tip: only eat at very good restaurants, as it’s a heavy dish so must be properly made). Go to a “churrascaria”. It’s like a barbecue restaurant where the waiter cuts the meat just in front of you. The best one in São Paulo is Fogo de Chao. It’s not cheap, but the food is amazing (tip: always ask for “picanha”, the famous cut of beef – it’s the best part.)
By the beach, try the local restaurants for fresh fish and the famous “porcões” of fried prawns, squid and other fish.
If you visit a street market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, try the “pastel da feira” (pastie of the market).
And… when in a café, I love to have my espresso eating a warm “pao de queijo” (cheese bread).
If you could describe Brazil in three words, what would they be?
Welcoming, creative and rich in culture and nature (three words is too difficult!)
What’s the biggest misconception about Brazil?
Brazil is not only about carnival, the Amazon and violence. It’s an industrialized country, with a steady economy, huge domestic market and very creative industries.
What advice would you give to a Brazilian wishing to visit or live in the UK?
I would suggest different places for different kinds of Brazilians, depending on whether they are visiting the UK and want to see something different from Brazil, and someone who plans to live here and be in contact with Brazilian culture.
So, I will name some places that I always go: Camden Town ( I love that explosion and mix of cultures and creativity, it reminds me of the street markets in Brazil). Visit the museums - they are amazing and all free.
Another place that I really enjoy is Brick Lane. Like I say in Portuguese, “da um pessoal mais alternativo” (the people there are more alternative).
If you can go to the outskirts of London, I would suggest a walk in Virginia Water Park, next to Ascot, and visit Windsor. In Richmond, I love walking by the river Thames.
If you have been in London for a while, take a walk in NW10, where there are plenty of Brazilians, Brazilian restaurants and Brazilian products.
Go to shows at Guanabara in Holborn and enjoy Brazilian food at “Ricco’s Churrascaria” in Bayswater.
Are you planning to travel to Brazil? What sort of advice would you like? And what anecdotes can you share? Or are you a Brazilian living in the UK? Where are your favourite haunts?