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The Wildcat Roar

Trying to Understand America

How the food is different for me, a Brazilian
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Caique Agra Dias

According to the dictionary, a community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” As a community, Novi is very diverse. Many businesses that sell Japanese and Indian food, because they are the biggest communities (of non-Americans) living here and creating businesses. But what about the Brazilians?

 

We miss our food the same way the other international families miss theirs. We now have a delivery service called Brafoods. It’s a company that sells some products like “pão de queijo” (cheese bread) and guraná (a pop). 

 

“I’ve lived in Michigan for 10 years and whenever I went to visit Brazil I came back with a suitcase full of Brazilian products, as many products were difficult to find here at the time,” said Juliana Bergantim, the entrepreneur behind Brafoods. “So in 2019 the idea of setting up an online Brazilian market came up, as the community of Brazilians in this region was increasing over the years.” 

 

It’s so perfect to have this feeling of eating something that reminds you of your home and culture. It’s not easy to move to a new country and these deliveries and restaurants help to make the difference. 

 

“Today we have more than 2,500 customers and in addition to serving the Novi region in Michigan with our delivery, we also ship to all states in the United States through UPS,” Bergantim said. “In addition to being Brazilian products, the preparation of traditional Brazilian dishes brings a great emotional memory with Brazil, which makes us expatriates feel closer to our country.”

 

My 5th birthday party with my family in Brazil.

“Brigadeiro” is a food in Brazil that all Brazilians have good memories of. We have a tradition, on birthdays where there is one table with dozens of cups of this candy.  We can only eat after we sing “Happy Birthday.” When the people gather at the table to sing, all the kids try to get near the candy to get most of the brigadeiro.

 

Trying to have a piece of Brazil here with us, me and my family went to Chicago, we had dinner at “Fogo no Chão” Brazilian Steakhouse. We had high expectations for the food. We had a good dinner but it could have been better. However, in Florida the Brazilian community was larger so when we went to Disney we had good meals. I liked it because it had more options compared with the bakery in Troy, where I ate bread with cheese and the guaraná. In Florida I ate a basket of “bolinha de queijo” (balls of cheese), the bread with cheese, brigadeiro, guaraná and paçoca (a nuts candy).

 

Michigan doesn’t have the extra things that other states have, and that’s okay. When we decided to move away from Brazil this was what our opportunity cost. From another point of view, the people in Novi are so understanding that I’ve never faced discrimination or awkward situations, so I’m glad to be in this city.

 

Even though it’s not my favorite, the American food is good. My mother always says that we need to learn how to order in restaurants because we always get simple meals. When we look at surrounding tables, there are couples and families with super different food that looks amazing. I’ve only been here for seven months, so I’m going to make the most of it to learn and taste. 

 

Before I came to the United States, some friends warned me about eating pizza and hamburgers every day, and no, this is not my meal (not every day). The truth for me is that pizza has been more present in my life, but not in the way that some people told me it would be. 

 

A dinner is not a dinner if you are alone, so I think that it’s important to have a good time with those you love. In the fall, my father’s boss invited my family to go to his house to help a girl who was living there. She was a Brazilian doing an exchange. 

 

I remember the first time that I saw and talked with her; it was the first time that I spoke Portuguese for a while. Gabi and I became friends really fast, and I remember when she came to my Halloween party and saw my mother cooking beans. The poor girl hadn’t eaten beans for a long time, so my mom started to cook beans for her sometimes. This became a joke to us, but we were glad that she was having this experience because it helps a lot to be in contact with your culture when you’re far away from home.

 

Try to talk about meals and food without feeling it’s impossible. We have feelings about what we eat; this makes us remember things, feel things. It’s important to taste new food but we need to keep our memories alive.

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About the Contributor
Caique Agra Dias, Staff Writer
Caique Agra Dias is a 16-year-old Brazilian student who loves to enjoy his free time to hang out with his friends. He loves movies (especially horror movies) and animals. If he has to stay in one place for the rest of his life, it will be at the beach. He is a Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter universe. You can contact him at [email protected]

Comments (3)

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  • C

    Colleen SmithFeb 15, 2024 at 9:36 am

    Great Article! I loved the pictures and loved hearing about your family traditions.

    Reply
  • V

    VerenaFeb 15, 2024 at 12:40 am

    Great to learn more how is to living in Novi.
    Congrats for the article!
    Verena

    Reply
  • L

    Luis Rogério FarinelliFeb 14, 2024 at 7:38 pm

    Wonderful article, may be you can start a new company preparing Brazilian meals!!!

    Reply