A couple of days ago I went out and explored my neighborhood for the first time. First thing I noticed was the amount of space between homes. It was a stark contrast from the paper thin gaps between homes in San Francisco. Walking more and more I noticed a striking ratio, it seemed that my bairro (neighborhood), Vargem Grande, had implemented a 1 dog to 1 person ratio. That, or the people here love dogs and they make good security alarms.
It was through the discussion of dogs that my American way of thinking became apparent. Upon meeting my family’s two dogs for the first time I asked “what kind of dogs are those?” By then I had thought one was an Akira mix and the other a golden retriever mix. To my amusement, they told me they were “cachorros da rua” – street dogs. I said to them: “don’t think we have that type of dog where I am from”.
The more I walked thorugh Vargem Grande, the more I began to notice the word “lanche” sprawled over buildings. By the time I returned home “lanche” was lodged in my brain. Was it a type of food? An accessory? A name of a candidate running for mayor? My family wasn’t home at the time, so I ended up forgetting about this mysterious “lanche”.
The following day I went to downtown Florianópolis to visit the foundation where I’d be volunteering. Before coming to Brazil I had seen a picture of the foundation online. There wasn’t anything particularly striking about the building in the picture; it was green, yellow, blue, a patio with no trees, but enough green grass to stand out from concrete structures that presided around it.
I was introduced to the some of the staff and then led outside for a tour. There were some kids outside and they looked at me with tame curiosity. They were more interested in their marble game. I made my way around the building to a door that led to the cafeteria. “Here is where the kids have lanche“. “That word” I thought. Before I could ask about the meaning, we were brought back to the front desk and went over the general schedule. “Lanche: 15:15-15:30” read the schedule. “Again!” Enough was enough. I interjected and asked “what is lanche???”. “It’s when you have a snack”, the lady who gave me a tour said. “Oh!!! Lunch!!” I said. “Não não não” she said. “Lanche is a time when you have a snack and it is after lunch and before dinner”. I am not sure how I missed the connection. Granted “lanche” isn’t “lunch” in the literal sense, but I could’ve at least pieced together that it was an anglicism.
Ghio in Brazil: Guaraná goes very well with lanche!
I returned home to share my new found knowledge with my family. Turns out there’s more to lanche than what the teacher told me. Firstly, lanche does not technically have to be between lunch and dinner. For example: say you eat a ton at dinner but for some odd reason you’re not full and want to have a small snack later – that would be considered a lanche. Lanche could range from having a fried egg with bread and tomatoes to getting something at Burger King. Secondly, and most important of all, lanche is anything that doesn’t have feijoada or rice.
Feijoada is not lanche.
While I am not entirely sure I’ve solved the mystery of “lanche”, I can say that I have no quarrels with snacking. Bom apetite!
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