Thursday, July 5, 2012

X-tudo: More is More aqui no Brasil.

Here in Brasil, if you stop into a lachonete, a small restaurant serving burgers and snacks, you can get a X-Ovo(egg), a X-Linguica(sausage), or even a X-Frango (chicken). These sandwiches may be my favorite example of “cultural innovation” I have encountered in Brazil, or the uptake of ideas from other places articulated in a very, very, unique fashion. When I arrived in Brazil last year, I was puzzled by the X-… that made up the entire menus of restaurants. Until one day I pointed at one that had contents I knew I would enjoy and the waitress said, “Um Cheese-ovo”, to which I was completely stunned as to why she said the English word cheese instead of queijo. Well, posing this question to a friend last year I learned that the letter X, in Portuguese is pronounced “sheez”. Brazilians exposed to American films saw and heard many sheez-burgers being consumed by the povo Americano. Through their lusophone ear, the Brazilian people associated a hamburger and cheese, with the letter X. 
Here comes the brazilliance of it all, the X just marks the start. When you order a X-frango, you get a cheeseburger with the standard ham, cheese and lettuce with the additional chicken you ordered. The same goes for any of the other toppings, including egg, cheese, steak or sausage. As a long time meat fan, I looooove (from a distance) the X-tudo aka the Ode to Protein the most. Tudo means everything, and this sandwich humbly consists of your standard hamburger, ham and cheese, chicken, sausage, egg and steak. I say humbly, because the short title and ubiquitous presence on street side menus misrepresents the fact that these 6 different proteins hail from no less than 3 different animals. This kind of gustatory assault would be the next challenge on Man v. Food in the U.S., but it is just another lunch in Brasil. Not to say we don’t have our own consumption practices that would appall even the most adventurous Brazilians (Doritos Locos Tacos, I'm looking at you). Still, my American aversion to mixing meats was offended by this odd mix, but now I embrace and appreciate this flagrant dish. The X-tudo is an allegory for the production of culture and Brasilianismo, where ideas are taken up and transformed and performed in their own cultural vocabulary. In a country where more really is more, the sheez-tudo reflects a very brazillian expression of contact with a very tasty aspect of American culture.

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