By Avantica Shinde Nielsen
BRAZIL AND BULGARIA:
When did you first arrive in Sofia? What were your first impressions? Have your impressions changed since then?
We arrived in October 2010, on a rainy afternoon, and my first impression was that Sofia was sad and
cold. But I quickly changed my mind and discovered that Sofia is a friendly place. Where were you before you came to Sofia?
How did you spend your time there?
We came directly from Canada, after six long winters in Montreal. I’m an “oyster-person”, so I like to
stay in and read, but I also like cinema, especially European movies, and long walks in nature— mostly in Mount Royal Park.
How many Brazilians (individuals and companies) are there in Bulgaria? What do they do?
There are very few Brazilians in Bulgaria. Besides the people working at the Embassy and their families,
we have a few young students in the Sofia Music Academy, and a few football players, too. There are no Brazilian companies in Bulgaria.
Are there any similarities/disparities between Brazilian and Bulgarian culture?
Brazil and Bulgaria have quite distinct cultures. Brazil is part of the “New World”, a nation of immigrants
who came from several parts of the world and added their values to those of the Amerindian population already in the territories which later became Brazil. Bulgaria has a very ancient history and a more homogeneous population. Both countries fight to maintain their own traditions in a world of increasing “globalization”.
What are typical roles of women in Brazilian society (work, home, or anywhere else)? Are there any typical or popular occupations for women in Brazil? What do you think about the lives of Bulgarian women?
The role of Brazilian women has changed since the end of the Second World War with the general modernization of the country, which changed its patriarchal agrarian model to an industrial and capitalist
society. During the first half of the 20th century, women mostly stayed at home, taking care of their families and other domestic activities. Gradually, they left home and started to prepare themselves for working in all branches of the job market. And nowadays, we have women in all positions, including Mrs. Dilma Rousseff in the Presidency of the Republic.
How would you describe Bulgaria in one short sentence?
I cannot describe Bulgaria in a short sentence, but what I can feel is a general search for changes
and, at the same time, an attachment to and pride in the Bulgarian traditions.
BRAZIL:
Brazil is famous for its carnival, beautiful women, and football! The Brazilian national football team is ranked among the best in the world and has won the World Cup tournament a record five times. You must be very proud! Please tell us more about Brazil. Is there something else you would like us to know?

Football and Carnival are only two elements of Brazilian life. Although many foreigners see them as essential aspects of Brazilian culture, this is a stereotype. It would be the same to see Bulgaria only through the production of its yogurt (famous all over the world, and undoubtedly delicious!). Brazilian popular music is incredibly rich, perhaps the most important cultural manifestation of the country. It presents a great variety of rhythms (and not only Bossa Nova!) and a high quality of literature in its lyrics. Some of the “anthological” lyrics. were “written” by popular composers who were almost illiterate. Carnival has changed a lot during the last fifty years. Rio’s famous Carnival lost most of its authenticity as a popular event and became mainly
a tourist show. I’m not very keen on football, and I’m not the only Brazilian who feels the same. What I like most at the World Championships is to hear the Brazilian national anthem, especially when I am abroad.
What comprises a typical Brazilian lunch or dinner? What are some famous Brazilian dishes?
Brazil is a big country (roughly more than 70 times the size of Bulgaria), with several regional components,
and that can also be seen in the different food specialities of each region. “Feijoada” (pork stew with black beans), although typical of the southeast region, is perhaps the emblematic dish of Brazilian cuisine. Other typical regional dishes are, for instance, “vatapá” (fish stew), “carne de sol” (a kind of jerked beef), and “churrasco” (grilled meat). The basic meal, which nutritionists consider very healthy, is a daily plate of boiled rice (white), black beans, a piece of meat, and a salad.
Do you miss Brazil when you are here? If yes, what is it that you miss?
I miss Brazil very much whenever I am abroad. I miss almost everything: the weather, the sea
(mostly the sea!), the sun, the joy of living of the “cariocas” (people born in Rio de Janeiro, like me).
Describe Brazil in one sentence.
I would describe Brazil in a very short and selfish way: it’s MY homeland!
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST…
What are you working on now? What are your dreams, aspirations, and hopes for yourself, Brazil, and Bulgaria? What would you like to achieve?
I have just finished composing a booklet about Brazilian cuisine, recipes mostly from my mother’s notebook, and family recipes for everyday meals which can be cooked here with products easily found at Sofia’s markets. The booklet will be sold at the Christmas Bazar. September will be the month of Brazil at the IWC; we have planned a few events with the support of our embassy. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed my first summer in Sofia. Concerning Brazil, my hope is to be, as a citizen, part of a general effort to diminish the social inequalities, allowing the whole population access to education, food, and health care.