Pastel, caldo, verdades & sujeira | Street food, truths and filth

“Tem um cabelo no meu pastel” reclamou um grande amigo. Encontrei-o por acaso; eu tinha o visto de costas na minha chegada à barraca do pastel e caldo da feira livre do nosso bairro. Surpreendi-o ao responder do nada e em voz alta: “Come o pastel, pô! Sujeira faz bem! A gente fica mais forte!”

Nem me cumprimentou, mas não tinha muito por quê. Eu tinha chegado direto da minha corrida matinal pela colina, suado e fedendo, então aquele abraço foi dispensado; ademais, íntimos não precisam muita cerimônia. Ele ficou olhando para o pastel com um cara de nojo, repetindo sua queixa.

“Come a pô do cabelo, cara!” repeti. “Toda comida tem sujeira, nasce de sujeira, volta pra sujeira!” insisti, sentindo uma sensação de enjoo estranho surgindo dentro de mim. “Ou então tire o cabelo e come o corpo, pô!”

Houve uma risadinha generalizada.

“A vida é isso! Tem sujeira! Tem nojeira! Tem isso sim! Têm coisas que a gente não quer ver! Coisas que a gente não quer encontrar não! Têm pessoas sujas! Nós somos sujos! Tem gente que faz sacanagem! Chegam pratos cheios daquilo que a gente não aceita! Não adianta! Come pô!”

Olhando para mim, estupefato, ele me perguntou entre preocupado e rindo, “Ricky, tu tá bem, cara?” Ele já tinha jogado aquele cabelinho no chão.

O sermão que vomitei veio de não-sei-onde, mas acho que uma senhora linda, sentada no banquinho do lado, comendo o pastel dela, sabia muito bem donde veio. Balançou a cabeça dela de turbante colorido para concordar, “É isso ai!” Até bateu o joelho com raiva para pontuar sua afirmação.

Quando aterrei, as pessoas todas em volta me olhavam. Uma moça jovem chorava discretamente. Todos sabiam donde veio essa interjeição toda.

Foi um nó na garanta que saiu depois de uma semana horrível no Rio de Janeiro. Notícias asquerosas sobre o que tem de mais imundo ao nosso redor. Notícias de crueldade. Foram notícias sobre os vários assassinatos da semana que foram difíceis de engolir .

“Não sei, cara” respondi, refletindo. Falei com um meio-sorriso: “Acho que agora tô melhor.”

Street food, truths and filth

 

“There’s a hair in my pastel,” a good friend complained. I met him by chance, seeing the back of him as I arrived at the pastel and sugarcane juice stall of our local street market. I surprised him when responding loudly and from out of nowhere: “Eat it! Eat the hair! Dirt is good for us! It makes us stronger!”

He did not even greet me, but there was not reason to, I suppose. We are too close for formalities, and, besides, I had arrived straight from my Saturday morning uphill run, so sweaty and stinky that a hug and a handshake were waived. My friend just stared at his pastel in disgust, reiterating his complaint.

“Come on, man! Eat it!” I repeated. “All food is dirty; it is born of dirt; it goes back to dirt!” I insisted, feeling a strange, queasy sensation rising inside me. “Or just pull the hair off and eat the rest, man!”

There were general chuckles from all the customers eavesdropping at the stall.

“That’s life: it’s dirty! It’s disgusting! There are things we do not want to see! Things we don’t want to encounter! There are dirty people in this world! We are dirty! There are people who do treacherous things! We get served plates heaped with things we don’t accept! It’s no use! Eat it! ”

He looked at me stunned before asking between worry and amusement, “Ricky, you okay, man?” He had already discarded that hair out on the pavement.

The sermon I vomited had come from I-do-not-know-where, but I think the beautiful older woman, sitting on the stool eating her pastel beside us, knew very well from where it came. She nodded in enthusiastic agreement with her colorful turbaned head.  “Right on! You are absolutely right!” She slapped her knee emphatically with a touch of anger to punctuate her affirmation.

I shook my head after a hard landing, realizing everyone around was eating while looking at me. A young girl cried discreetly. Everyone knew where my outburst had come from.

The past week in Rio de Janeiro had been hairy and horrific, and it had given me a painfull hairball to cough up and spit out. We had had news about the filthiest of treachery. There had been news of great cruelty. It had been impossible to digest the week’s various murders.

“I do not know, man,” I finally replied, reflecting before a half-smile. “I think I’m better now.”

 

 

 

 

 

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A native of Chicago, Ricky Toledano has lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for over twenty years as a writer, translator and teacher. [a]multipicity is multi-lingual collection of reflections through the humanities.

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