Sunday, December 12, 2010

October 25, 2009 - The Church Fair

October 25th, 2009 – The Church Fair
For the first time I have been to an event happening in my neighborhood. My mother never allowed me to participate to anything partylike while teenager. So, taking my own 8-year old daughter to a church fair had a taste of wonder for me.
Church fair in Brazil is nothing like those ones in America. To start with, it is not a daytime event. Yesteryears it may have had more games with prizes, but gradually it became a food feast. We go to eat, drink, to see and to be seen.
Venda Branca on ordinary days is an empty place. A little white brick Catholic church, a fairy large partyroom, a grassy space with some trees. On the other side of street, two bars, one of which closed. It mostly sells alcoholic drinks to men. It used to have an elementary school, but children now are taken by bus to the town instead. Nearby, a family style farm hotel owned by a young widow who transformed her country home into a business. By the road, an artificial lake made into a “fish-and-pay” place. It is less than two miles from my house.
Having lived on a farm all my childhood, everything seemed so far from us. The bustling aspect of downtown, the stores, the ice cream parlor, the movie theather, the availability of goodies (candies and fake jewelries), the friends just across the street, school at walking distance, a fulltime housekeeper, and even the TV set were unreachable luxuries to me. Last night, it all turned reality. That’s how Cinderela must have felt the night of the royal ball. Of course, in my case, no prince was ever there. (But my daughter found a frog by our bedroom door. Was it he?)
I stopped by Lindaura’s house to pick her up. She is the one who invited me to come along. I see her almost every day, as I give her and her son a ride every week morning. Little by little, she has turned part of my routine. As I arrived, Lindaura was trying to straightening her hair as fashion demands for party nights and dressing a borrowed a blouse. I went plain.
We arrived early. Hundreds of white tables were spread around the the garden, beside the church and even on the back ot the partyroom. A different sight from forgotten place it usually is. It looked so promissing, until it started to pour. Forty milimeter of rain in one single night. It went from hot and muggy to wet and cold. But we took the table inside, and were in the middle of all action.
Thirty years ago, my mother drove quickly to the very same event in the evening to pick up a roasted piglet while we waited at home. We devoured it smothered in soy sauce and fresh ginger. It was such a memorable degustative experience that it opened by taste buds for this kind of meat. Evoked by this memory and gluton fostered appetite, I went to the fair expecting to repeat the experience.
Discouraged by my friend about other meats, I picked skewered deep fried beef as it was big and cheap. This way I wanted to start my night, before chicken and roasted pork. The crust was burned and the meat tough and somewhat tasteless. The one my daughter didn’t want to eat, I had it with a can of Coke. So I was settled for the night. My friend didn’t stop repeating about the rain and the loss it made. My daughter talked breathlessly stimulated by the soft drink. My friend’s son was gone around. I yawned for two hours.
I couldn’t leave as country people do everything to delay you. Lindaura kept asking to stay longer saying something like “the rain stopped. More people are gonna come”, as if I were expecting them. What I wanted to eat were already frustrated by filling me up with tough meat and her untold reproval of spending money in more expensive dishes.
The event went on with a head on roasted suckling pig auction. Egnaldo, a funny name as it is usually spelled Agnaldo, was proudly displaying the roast he baked in his giant size oven he once showed me. (The one who used a Scania truck tank as an oven attached to a wood burning stove).
For “to see and to be seen”, I saw one or another people I was expecting to see, such as Laercio, the man who sells me the milk and cheese, dona Rosa’s family, MC’s parents-in-law (the man who smells like urine). Some others I was not expecting, but recognized. My milk project instructor was there. But most people, I have no idea who they were or, I was unable to recognize.
MC told me she was lucky in raffles, which she had gotten in previous years a couple of chickens and also a piglet. I wanted to get a piglet and a goat.
I was so excited about the idea of getting those animals that when a woman came selling the numbers, I got two. But the prize was bermuda shorts, a lady’s bag and kitchen towels. I didn’t want them even for free. The excess noise, packed room, and lack of opportunity to buy more numbers for other prizes (a selling woman seldom came by our table), my much anticipated raffle for live pig and goat didn’t happen until I left. (To tell you the truth, I only saw a rooster in a cage shriveling by cold weather).
The road back to our house was muddy but we arrived safely before 10 pm (early for Brazilian standards, as many people were still arriving at that time.) After catching the frog in the hallway and kicking it from the house, we hit the bed. With somewhat nice experience but lack of luck all night I didn’t even try to kiss the frog in attempt to find out if he was the enchanted prince. But also, with so many other small frogs in the house, it would take all night, specially to catch the fugitive jumping ones.

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