Monday, August 25, 2008

I FINALLY get to eat Brazilian Food!!!

There is another dinner planned for the group, but suspecting that it will be sushi again, I make plans to have dinner with Tomaz Hideki Chibana.

We go to a buffet that has local dishes. YAY! YAY! YAY!

I got to really talk story with Tomaz and we swapped tales of small kid time and the Okinawan communities in Hawaii and Brazil. It was fascinating.

After dinner, we went walking around. We caught the subway to get to Tomaz' car and drove around the city. Got to meet some of his family at their beautiful home.
The centennial trip was also symbolized by extreme formality and “speechifying.” Not being able to understand them, the myriad speeches by dignitaries and VIPs were meaningless for me. More often than not, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. For me, the value and high points of this trip came down to personal connections that I was able to forge.

In general, the Uchinanchu I met in Argentina and Brazil were incredibly caring. I have always felt so embraced by the Okinawan community in Hawaii - this community embraced me just as warmly. I met so many people who went to great lengths to ensure I had a good time! I found myself wondering if I would be that concerned and do just as much if the positions were reversed. I felt really humbled in the face of so much warmth and aloha.

Not being able to communicate in Japanese, Uchinaguchi, Portuguese or Spanish, I connected mostly with the younger generation who could speak English. We swapped stories about small kid time, our backgrounds and our dreams. While there was much that differed, we found much in common. I loved the discovery of a shared culture and heritage, in spite of such huge geographic separation, evinced especially through food, music and dance (though I did not find a strong presence of awamori and andagi, which I sorely missed).
My favorite dish is Feijoada, a stew of black beans, considered the national dish of Brazil. Yum, Yum, Yum!! I had the Feijoada with long grain rice and Farofa, which is made from toasted manioc flour. Ooh. I also ate it with sauteed kale, which was lovely.

I didn't want to embarass Tomaz but I had to take photos of everything! I'm a foodie.

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