Attraction and Revolt: The Right to Choose

It was time for a second try at Portuguese culture.  I head out to the Central Market for a little visit to Brazil – perhaps fleeing religious persecution, perhaps part of a slave war, or slave trade, maybe part of class or feudal revolution.



Nope, not supposed to have most of that.  My blood sugar is too high.


Nope.  Not supposed to have most of that.  My blood pressure is too high.


Nope.  Not supposed to have any of that.  My cholesterol is too high.  Although French, the sweeter-than-cranberry-like jelly called guava is Brazilian.  I sample it, in defiance.


There’s a Japanese man selling sushi at the counter.  I asked him whether there are any Japanese people in Brazil.  He didn’t think so.  I wasn’t so sure.  Boat culture, Japan, Pacific Islands, Marquesas islands, would they have had to cross the Panama isthmus to get to Brazil?  The currents toward the Americas seem to flow right toward the isthmus.  How stable was the land bridge?  The first evidence of racoon migration from North to South America is apparently 10.1 Ma (Schmidt D, 2007), a long time ago, but it might have opened and closed over the more recent years.  Obviously, since 1914, the 48 mile Panama canal has opened the isthmus.  Currently boats are raised 85 feet to cross the isthmus.

We discuss the contents of the sushi.  There were 2 rolls.  The Brazilian roll had pork in it, so I politely decline.  The Houston roll had imitation crab meat in it.  I decide that, although it was trying to be crab meat, it was technically falling short, and so probably kosher.  I sample it.


A little further down, there is a man selling pesto.  Come on, I think,  I know pesto is Italian.  Probably not supposed to have that either, but the oil is olive oil, higher in mono-saturated fats, and maybe the acai berries in the background will keep those fat esters reduced and stabilized so that they don’t attract clotting agents.  I sample it, and then also try the acai berry juice.  It’s worth a shot.


A little further down, and I’m greeted “Bem Vimda” by a man who explains to me that he is from an Italian colony in Brazil somewhat southwest of Sao Paulo.  We talked about the indigenous protest that had protected the indigenous lands when they had planned to build a highway through them.  It turns out that was in the neighboring country of Bolivia, but the proposed project (now halted) was being funded by Brazil.   Some of the Bolivians had been trying to extend the Rodovia Transamazônica that had been constructed in Brazil.


He offers to let me sample the wine.  It’s supposed to have health benefits for people with heart disease.  But I’m not sure if my kidneys and liver can handle it.

I move toward the more indigenous offerings,


and then out to sample some coconut juice, as I watch a young girl chase a bird to a background of live Samba.


A little further on, I politely decline the flavored cane sugar extracts.  Probably historically developed with plantation slave labor, this pure sugar would almost certainly hurt me, unless of course my insulin was peaking, in which case, I would have to mainline it for dear life.  At the moment, I was safely above sea-level, and not crashing.


This was diabetes 40 years ago when I grew up.  It probably isn’t technically true for people who manage their sugars with a pump or MDI and test their blood sugars.  But for someone who got it over 40 years ago, it still is for the most part true.

I decide to visit the dragon boat race to see if I thought that a boat might have made it across the islands from China (Guangdong province). 


More food – this time a lot more fried – a really big no, no.  Heat really deforms the fat molecules in the oils so that they attract clotting agents.   Still, those green teas might compensate, but probably not enough.  I leave it alone.


I walk briefly with the sponsors of the blind team as I approach the wharf,

102_2019 past the man with a walking cast.


It could be me.  It sometimes is.

Out on the Houston canal, the boats look sleek and thin, a little too fragile for the voyage:


As they race toward the finish line, marking their best times, the kids swing at some T-ball,


and I watch their Teo-Chew well-rehearsed dragon dances (called Lion dances)


and honed Marshall Arts exihibits.  They meet to practice for 5 hours every Sunday.


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