Top Fifteen Interesting Observations About Brazil and Brazilians (In no particular order…)

1. Ice cold beer. They don't mess around in Brazil. Literally the beer has frost on or sometimes in the bottle. And typically a big bottle is served in a koozie along with small cups for the whole table to share. Which means the last sip of beer is just as cold as the first. Awesome.

2. Night time showers. Everyone showers at night. Sometimes in the morning too. I have yet to adopt this night time bathing routine for fear of frightening people in the morning with my bed head.

3. Coxinhas. Cream cheese and seasoned shredded chicken surrounded by a mass of fried, breaded dough. Enough said.

4. Ham and cheese on french bread for breakfast. Sometimes served with cream cheese, butter or jam. It's called a “misto quente.” Amazing.

5. “Oba!” A common expression of pleasure in Brazil. I thought it was only exclaimed in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

6. Diminutives. Brazilians like to diminituize everything with the expression “-inho/a” at the ends of words for emphasis. Examples: “bonitinha” (pretty), “fofinha” (cute), “coitadinho” (poor little thing), “jeitinho” (way of solving a problem).

7. Kisses on the cheek. The number of kisses varies depending on the city you're in. Particularly confusing for a foreigner. And this has made for many awkward moments of people diving in for the kiss on the other cheek when you're not expecting it.

8. Odd moments for congratulations. Cat calling females is pretty typical all over Latin America in my experience. But here I've noticed rather than than the simple “Hey beautiful,” Brazilian men say “parabems!” or “congratulations!” while scanning a female up and down. Seems like a strange way to pay a compliment, especially since it might be more appropriate to compliment the woman's parents for their aesthetically pleasing gene combination.

9. Skimpy swimsuits. Regardless of your body type, on the beach in Brazil it is not only acceptable but also seemingly expected to cover the least amount of your body. This applies to men and women alike.

I think the man in this picture was a foreigner

And this pic deserved to make it in two blog posts!

10. Shoddy napkins. Seriously, the napkins served in restaurants in Brazil have got to be some of the most useless pieces of paper I've ever used. The quality is more like the paper used to pick up a donut in a bakery. The only good use I found at the table was making napkin roses…

11. Brigadeiros. Chewy balls of semisweet chocolate and sweetened condensed milk rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Need I say more?

The cooking process

12. The Brazilian “thumbs-up.” While the thumbs up may be a globally universal sign of affirmation, Brazilians use it abundantly. It can mean everything from “yes,” to “I agree,” to “hey, thanks for letting me in that line of crazy traffic.” Thumbs up!

13. Sweet avocados. Yes, I realize the avocado is actually a fruit. And fruits, by nature, are typically sweet. But Brazil is the only place I've been where people find salted avocados as in guacamole, on sandwiches or salads to be strange. Instead, the preferred method for avocado preparation is to blend it with milk and sugar into a sweet pudding textured dessert. I was reluctant to tamper with my taste buds in such a way, but actually the dish was quite good!

14. PDA (“Public Display of Affection” for those who are unfamiliar with the acronym). Brazilians are very affectionate and very hands-on. This affection extends into the public arena between lovers who seem quite oblivious to the rest of the world. It's not uncommon to see a couple heavily making out on the subway, in the middle of the street, on the dance floor, in a museum, wherever. Took some getting used to on my part.

15. Botecos. Botecos are essentially small bars with tables extending out onto the sidewalk and sometimes street. In the evenings they are usually packed with friends sharing beers and appetizers and are one of my favorite places to just hang out with people in Brazil.

1/6/14 Note from Author: I am overwhelmed, pleasantly surprised and flattered by the number of comments I've received on this post in the last couple weeks. I started off replying to everyone, but there have been too many recently to keep up. This blog was originally (and still is) meant as a means to share with my family and friends at home my experiences of traveling abroad, and this particular entry was the first one that seems to have gone, as some of you have stated in your comments, “viral.” I had an amazing time in Brazil, and enjoyed visiting several cities in this beautiful country including Foz do Iguacu, Curitiba, São Paulo, Campinas, Vitória, Brasilia and Rio. I have enjoyed very much reading all of your feedback, and in response I'd like to say if I had to pick one more thing to add to my list about Brazil and Brazilians (aside from the feijoada, caipirinhas, pão de queijo, etc.), it would be to mention their warm and open hearts. I am no longer in Brazil, and will be leaving home in a few days for the Dominican Republic, where my travel blogging will continue over the next few months. Who knows, maybe I'll have to continue these top 15 lists in each place I go? Muito obrigada!


431 thoughts on “Top Fifteen Interesting Observations About Brazil and Brazilians (In no particular order…)

  1. About your comment on number 13, another way of eat avocado is to mash the flesh on its skin with 2 teaspoons of castor sugar and 1/2 lime. It’s amazing. I still can’t eat avocado as a salad. Thanks for your post.

  2. Marcos says:

    Hi, Nicole!
    I coundn’t help realizing that you finished politly thanking for all. Our language is also quite curious: man should say “(muito) obrigadO” and only women say “(muito) obrigadA”
    Foreigners are always welcome to “Brasil”!

  3. 1gregwilliams says:

    Awesome post ! Thanks for sharing. I am in Brazil now from the USA for the 3rd time. Trying to figure out how to make this beautiful country my new home. All you say is a DEFINITE “TRUTH”. Best travels to you !

  4. Marcelo says:

    I don’t know if you noticed that yet, but something Brazilians REALLY enjoy in my oppinion are “TOP X” lists, where X is any number you want. Hahah. I receive lots of it every time, this one included, and I admit that usually I check all of them, from “Top 5 most weird ants” to “Top Fifteen Interesting Observations About Brazil and Brazilians (In no particular order…)”. =P

    • says:

      Hi, I’m Brazilian, from São Paulo, let me clarify something here, it is one kiss on the cheek in São Paulo and two in Rio, everytime I go there I leave someone waiting for the second one…LOL

  5. Bruna says:

    This was so accurate, made me lol soo hard kkk
    Keep it up, I would love to see what you have to say about other places

  6. Pingback: Cool observations about Brazil | Lost Sambista

  7. Carlos says:

    I’m delighted about your coments of Brazil. We’ve the worse politicians in the all world but we know how to have a great social life. Thank you.

  8. Guilherme says:

    Hi there,

    I´ve noticed that when write about the “Oba” expression that we use you compare it to the Greek tradition. Actually they say “Opa” not “Oba”. 🙂

  9. christian says:

    Congratulations. Ver good text, ver respectfully … irei thinkingspace that your text shows very well what a visitar fill in Brazil.

  10. Patricia Freitas says:

    Next time goes to northeast to Brazil, Recife, Parabaíba, Natal, Fortalesa and you will see more this 15 things transformed on 40, 50, 100 different things because we have more quantities of differents food, fruits, drink and special warm sea waters for you to appreciatte your visit. Thanks for all this words from my country.

  11. Monica says:

    I love that you as a non Brazilian has captured the essence of things so nicely. Well done. You seemed to have enjoyed yourself. I’ll certainly be following your where abouts. Monica

  12. Felipe Christiansen says:

    Great article I am Brazilian grew up in Brazil but have lived in the US most of my life now. but when I go back and visit these things are what I love the most you really hit the nail on the head.
    PS-You forgot one thing.. The Caipirinhas!!

  13. Jorge Moura says:

    Except for the number 14 about PDA, that is a completely natural behavior for us, I´ve enjoyed and loved your observations, specially the number 13. I am always trying to unsucessfully convince my American friends that avocado is a fruit and need to be eaten sweetened.

  14. Henrique says:

    On your next visit to Brazil, you should not miss Santa Catarina state end its capital Florianópolis (also known as Magic Island). Santa Catarina has been elected for the seventh consecutive year by leading travel magazine of Brazil as the best state to make tourism in the country.

  15. Celso Assumpção says:

    Congratulations for your comments about our country . Next time I suggest you come to Paradise. Yes , You should know that God is brazilian and lives in Fernando de Noronha . Heaven !

  16. These napkins are not hydrophilic and they are usually povided in bars that sell oily things. I always thought they are useless too. Maybe useful for making flowers, my boyfriend always do that! And we spend a lot!!! HAHAHA

  17. This post is really adorable! If you ever go back to Brazil, go to Belo Horizonte to have são “pão de queijo”. They’re even better than the coxinhas 😉

  18. Lovely way to look at things, to the napkins I migt add the plastic cups that are usually useless too, other than that… Well, there’s a lot more to visit in Brasil.

    Enjoy Dominican Republic, where you can have breakfast on one coast and DRIVE for lunch on the other, that is awesome!

  19. That´s great the way you discribe Brazil, I just would like to remember that this Country is huge and changes from place to place. Just to give 1 exemple:
    4 official languages in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazônia, which most of brazilians would never guess. 2 years ago the meijor of Chicago was in Curitiba, Paraná, learning solutions for his home town.

  20. André Gonçalves Procopio says:

    I think that the “Public Display of Affection” commentary was a broad and offensive generalization. It made us brazilians sound like sex maniac creatures. And it gets worst when you realize that topless in beaches is forbidden here, while in european beaches it’s allowed and widespread used. The rest of the text sounded very condescedent, as is normal when funny gringos or gringas like you talk about Brasil. By the way, good luck dealing with the crisis and unemployment on your home country.

    • Rogerio Mendes says:

      O comentario sobre “PDA” vem de uma pessoa onde este tipo de comportamento tem ateh uma sigla, para vc perceber o quao puritano sao os Amricanos em Geral. Nao acho que seja offensivo de jeito nenhum, somente uma observacao do comportamento dos Brasileiros que realmente parece bem diferente do que ela esta acostumada. Nao acho que nos faz parecer “Sex Maniac Creatures”, Somente sem os pudores que eles tem! Tambem nao acho que o resto seja “CONDESCENDING” e somente algumas observacoes ateh engracadas sobre o comportamento dos Brasileiros em Geral. Repostei este text no meu FB e varios gringos acharam legal! O seu texto sim,foi bem “CONDESCENDING”…um pouco mais de bom humor nao faz mal a ninguem! Leia novamente, pois talvez vc nao tenha entendido direito.

      • Sílvia Moreira says:

        Rogério, tudo é sigla nos estados unidos, não vejo como a mania de criar siglas possa refletir o puritanismo por parte dos americanos; pense em todos os outros que conhecemos brb, lmfao, lol, omg, lmk.

        Eu não achei ofensivo o cementário sobre PDA da nicole, mas conheço muitos que se sentiriam, sim, ofendidos. Não acho que você pode acusar alguém de “se ofender injustamente.”

        As observações são engraçadas sim, mas não se esqueça como o mundo está organizado politicamente, qualquer comentário — principalmente de uma americana — que minimize o comportamento por aqui é passível de observação.

        To belittle other cultures is, precisely, a condescending act. Contudo, cabe ao leitor reconhecer o tom amigável do texto ou não.

  21. Marcelo Hegel says:

    Percebo que muitos dos comentários foram feitos por brasileiros que estão morando no exterior. Queria dizer que vocês são todos um bando de traíras. Nem deveriam comentar um texto sobre o Brasil, já que não são mais brasileiros. Fiquem ai nos decadentes EUA/Europa, e deixem nós que realmente acreditamos no país falar sobre ele.

    • jay mata says:

      Trairas porque? porque buscamos solucoes ao inves de esperar que o sistema proporcione algum? e quanto a deixar de ser brasileiro meu caro, eu te garanto que a maioria dos que migraram para outors paises, continuam sendo brasileiros, continuam amando a terra natal mesmo que a distancia; mas afinal distancia nao e problema o bilhete de passagem aerea nao e tao caro assim.

  22. Fabiola says:

    You rock. Your ideais are surely correct. Though, there is much more to say. For us, Brazilian people, is not easy to observe so many aspects as everything is so natural. Obrigada por seus comentários.

  23. Wow, since it`s been trending to bad-mouth brazilians and Brazil, lately, this was a breath of fresh air, for sure. lol

    Not that we don`t deserve some of what`s being written around, online, but thanks for this! 😉

  24. Renato says:

    Hi Nicole I enjoyed very much reading your article about Brazil. There is something fresh about the way you look at things. You just look at them the way they are without comparisons and without criticism. I’m from Rio and I live in New York and you are 100% correct about the things you observed there.

  25. Bruno says:

    Great Job!!!!! You definitely forgot to mention the Brazilian watch been at least 15 minutes late :)… unless somehow you didn’t experience that!

    Also brazilian kiss (Not the one in the cheek), also hard to find in other countries!! – with all the respect.

  26. #6,7,9,10 and 14. The napkins??? Seriously!! I love how women of all sizes rock their bikinis. So refreshing as compared to American women, who are so deeply ashamed of their appearance.

  27. Assiria Ramos says:

    I enjoyed your article and, as a Brazilian born in Recife (a northeastern city), I find that the description you gave of our culture was accurate and positive. Yes, Brazilians are very friendly and hospitable. Next time you go to Brazil, visit the Northeast and you are also going to enjoy our costumes and food. Até logo.

  28. Leandro Bremer says:

    I’m from Brazil and really proud of reading your article especially because you’ve gotten common points, I mean, the main habits Brazilian people are used to do.
    I’m so thankful for being Brazilian and knowing a lot of people love the way we live.

    Best regards!!

  29. Mariana says:

    I’m so happy to read an article that doesn’t state ignorant opinions that some tourists tend to have about my country. Thanks for being able to see beauty in little things such as our coxinhas or big things such as our men running in speedos…lol

  30. AnnE says:

    One of the most interesting comments about Brazil I have ever seen, I am impressed with the attention to details and accuracy of the information’s, Oba was just a little off, but everything else is very true. Nice job!

  31. Hey nice post! I’m Brazilian from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, and you certainly should include it in your next visit to Brazil! It’s a gastronomic praised city and state I’m sure you are gonna love the food and the “mineirinhos”, who is from Minas Gerais with the “-inho”, so you can get used to the millions of time we use it even more than the other Brazilians! 😉

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