Opinion – Josimar Melo: Another swoop over Porto Alegre

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Opinion – Josimar Melo: Another swoop over Porto Alegre

I write on board a flight that takes me from Porto Alegre to São Paulo, while my mind travels back in time remembering the city that I have barely known for so many years.

I didn’t go on tourism. And I realized that I had never been there for a walk. This time, the objective was to get to know, and honor, a small and huge social work that is supported by teaching tennis to needy children as a means of social insertion.

Its audience is the poor community of Belém Novo, which led to the name of the project with an amusing corruption of the name of the Wimblendon tournament — in this case, WinBelemDon.

And their annual charity event, in which renowned chefs prepare different original soup recipes, follows the same line of humor: imitating the US Open tournament, it’s called Ué?! SOUP!.

Brazilian tennis idols often attend the event — such as Fernando Meligeni and Thomaz Kock. And, this year, Telma Shiraishi, Neka Menna Barreto, Jimmy Ogro, João Diamante participated in the pots. For desserts, Lucas Corazza, Amanda Selbach and Carole Crema (ice cream coconut cake).

Mission accomplished, I note that once again I have not visited the city. This has been the case for decades. My oldest memories are from the times of the military dictatorship, when I traveled to participate in clandestine meetings behind closed doors or, at most, more public meetings, but restricted to university campuses.

The time made me some dear friends —among whom, friends who also warmed my heart and body with colorful friendships— and that time and distance have confined today to the sweet fog of memories.

A period memory is how amazed I was that the same city could be so cold in the winter and so stiflingly hot in the summer.

He also observed that the houses, in addition to cozy fireplaces or heaters (rare in São Paulo), had hermetically fitted doors and windows, preventing heat loss (while in São Paulo the gigantic gaps between the windows flags were an invitation to the invasion of air ice cold).

Anti-winter measures that I would later see were common —in fact, obvious — in the cold countries of Europe and also in South America.

Years later, my visits to Porto Alegre started to be motivated by the work of a gastronomic journalist. Again, no Tourism. Or he was passing through, on his way to the Serra Gaúcha or the border, to write about wines; or I would go to restaurants to write a report, or to vote for an award.

In these cases, I took the opportunity to look at the local gastronomy, whose variety increased over time, which I thought was good, since the barbecue, so typical, always seemed to me to be too stale.

But from so many low flights, something is always learned. For example, I got to know the pride of the haughty gauchos, which can sometimes be comical, but which I mostly admire.

Not to the point of encouraging separatist movements that emerge there — for this I always had an antidote: it is enough to argue that, if they want independence because of their gaucho rather than Brazilian character, to go to the extreme they should separate from Brazil and founding an authentic gaucho republic, which means unifying with Argentina.

At this point they always change the subject, I don’t know why. I love Argentina, although there too, as on this side of the border, the barbecue meat is usually overcooked, for my taste.

Finally, I must remember that, from my limited experience, there is no better program in Porto Alegre (affective, intellectual, gastronomic) than having dinner with the couple Lúcia and Luis Fernando Verissimo —he with his shy and wise smile (since he already writes and touch, all that was needed was to speak), she interpreting aloud all the wisdom of the duo.

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