After a certain foreign journalist from a certain New York-based newspaper made a most unfortunate comment about one of the cariocas’ most beloved icons, the locals have taken to the streets in solidarity. Well, perhaps not quite, but it’s safe to say the cariocas are not amused. And with good reason. For a “New Yawka” to come to Rio and publically make a disparaging remark about Biscoito Globo is akin to a carioca going to the Big Apple and putting a sign up at Times Square declaring New York-style bagels and pizza suck.
“Davey, you need to apologize; that just wasn’t nice,” is what I’d say if I were Mr. Segal’s mother. But then again, it isn’t everyone who cut their teeth on the carioca motto “gentileza gera gentileza” (kindness generates kindness), so I get it.
To give our intrepid journalist a little slack, when he stated that this most traditional and ubiquitous of all carioca treats is “tasteless,” I must confess he wasn’t too far off the mark. Taking a bite of what I lovingly refer to as an air biscuit is like taking a bite of nothing, and the difference between the sweet and the salty is yet to be discerned. Since these air biscuits tend to be a “bit” dry, it’s a good idea to eat them accompanied by an ice cold mate or an estupidamente gelada (ridiculously cold beer), depending on where you are. And since they tend to stick to the roof of your mouth, it’s advisable to avoid eating a Biscoito Globo when deep in conversation.
The meat – or perhaps I should say cassava — of the Biscoito Globo brouhaha is that our fearless columnist simply didn’t get it. He obviously didn’t understand that this distinctly, purposely flavorless biscuit is a carioca institution, deeply enrooted in the culture of three generations of cariocas. So much so that it’s the number one item that Rio natives living overseas feel the most saudades for, along with pão de queijo (puffed Minas cheese balls) and goiabada (guava paste). Really…
So the next time you find yourself at the beach, stuck in traffic, or waiting in line, do as the carioca does. Pick up a bag of Biscoito Globo from one of the many beach or street vendors, sit back, and relax. After all, there’s nothing that a bag of Biscoito Globo won’t cure. Or make that two, as I bet you can’t have just one!
Priscilla Ann Goslin was born in Minnesota and has made Rio her home for more than 30 years. She is the author of How to Be a Carioca, first published in 1992 and currently in it’s 35th edition. She also writes the blog How to be a carioca / Olhares Olimpicos, for Veja magazine’s website.