Now MFAW has a new page: a permanent poetry section (where I'll post poems by renowned authors, principally from Brazil, and some of mine too) (=
Check it out!
Bolinhos de chuva: Brazilian recipe!
Sooo, last post I mentioned one of my favourite Autumn snacks: the bolinho de chuva. Well, it's drizzling today and, although it's not very cold (around 18ºC), it looks like the perfect day to make - better said, to eat - some. So, let's get to work - or, as we say here in Brazil, mãos à obra!
Things you'll need before you start:
- A casserole (or another deep pan you can use for frying)
- A wooden spoon or silicone spatule
- 2 large bowls (one of them for the sugar-cinnamon mix)
- Absorbing paper
- A platter
- 1 cup of wheaten flour
- 1 cup of corn starch
- 1/2 cup of milk
- Two eggs
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- At least 4 tablespoons of sugar, mixed with a spoon or two of cinnamon
- Oil for frying
How to do:
First of all, wash your hands or use gloves. (Hehe.)
Then, beat the sugar and the eggs and gradually add the other ingredientes. I'd suggest to do it in this order: a bit of milk, then the dry ingredients, then another bit of milk, until you finish. Stir it until it becomes a firm cream, like custard. It should not be too firm but also not too soft, with a rich cream colour. That's why it should be stir with a spoon rather than with a mixer - with mixers it usually ends up becoming liquid and cannot be saved (unless you add lots of flour, which alters the taste).
Get some spoonfuls of that cream and fry them. They probably will not look very beautiful, but with a bit of practice you can turn these spoonfuls of dough into pretty golden balls - that's how they should look like after they're fried. So, get small quantities, because they'll swell when they fry.
After you fry the bolinhos, roll them over the mix of sugar and cinnamon and then put them on the absorbing paper. And you're done - prontinho!
Serve them hot and bom apetite!
Subway Nymphs: how to beautify a world, by Josquin Desprez
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you are probably very happy with Spring - singing birds, gentle zephyrs et caetera. If you do not, and this is my case, 'tis Autumn, and, at least here in Southern Brazil, leaves are falling, and so temperature. It doesn't rain here in São Paulo for at least two months - but that's another story.
I must confess that Autumn is my favourite season - except, of course, if it doesn't look like Autumn. It's the season of cappuccinos, espressos and all the other Italian-named beverages. It's also the season of one of my favourite Brazilian petiscos (Portuguese for 'snacks'): bolinhos de chuva, preferencially made my mother on a rainy day, but welcome any time. (Don't you know what a bolinho de chuva* is? That's pitiful. I'll surely post a recipe then.)
And it's also the season of music. Most properly, Renaissance music. (Believe me, nothing is better than listening to John Dowland or Francis Cutting on a windy and melancholic Autumn day. You should definitely try it.)
But this year another guy has conquered me, and his name is Lebloitte. Josquin Lebloitte. Doesn't sound familiar? Well, he could also be called Jodocus Pratensis, or Jossequin des Près, or, even, Josquin Desprez. This is probably the way he is most known, and, for me, none of these names can translate what he really was - GREAT. And when I say great, I mean really, really great.
Desprez was a Belgian composer born in the end of the XV century (c. 1450). He lived in France and died there in 1527. As a church and court composer, his work is so extensive that I cannot write here, but he is mostly known by his masses, motets and chansons. And there is surely a reason for that - he could use so well human voice that his music doesn't sound just human. The textures and colours on his choral compositions make them sound absolutely lovely, if not perfect. After listening to some of his songs, you will surely want to enter a choir. (I did it.)
So, if you are stuck on the traffic or squished on the underground, this is the perfect soundtrack. Look at the trees and the clouds outside while listening to his Missa Pange Lingua ("Sing, o tongue, the mysteries of the glorious flesh..."). Everyday scenes like children going to school or dog fights seem so much ethereal while you listen to it. Also, if you pay attention to each melody line (which are many) in any of his songs, it's like going to other world. Trying to fit each part on a determined space of your memory and then writing them down (if you know music) is a great exercise.
My favourite works by Desprez are his chansons. Based on poems he wrote himself or written by other people, they talk mostly about love - lost love, desperate love, fried love, love with bacon etc. That's typical, after all we're on the Renaissance. But what I find special is the way he treats each word on a song. In Coeur langoreulx ('Languishing heart'), each word of lamentation - like weeping, sighing et caetera - is really a lament, and, when the first voice sings 'rejouys toy, car ta belle maistresse/par sa pitié te veut donner liesse', that is, roughly, 'rejoice, for your mistress is coming to give you happiness', the song goes on really joyful, and ends with a happy, cozy and comforting 'pour te reconforter'.
I won't talk much anymore, I promise. But here is a Desprez playlist for you to hear:
Petite camusette, my favourite chanson by Desprez on my favourite performance by Ensemble Clément Janequin (sorry, Hilliard Ensemble, I love you too). But if you don't speak French please don't search for the lyrics, they are so silly.
Si congié prens
'Kyrie' and 'Gloria', from the Missa Pange Lingua
El Grillo. Whee, a sprightly tune. Every choir has to sing this one someday!
Douleur me bat
'Nymphes des bois', a mourning tune over the death of his fellow (and also Flemish) composer, Johannes Ockeghem
Tenez moy em vos bras 'Hold me in your arms, my dear, I am sick; your love will heal me.'
That's Josquin. Cute, wasn't he? Or at least that's what this painter thought.
Have a musical night!
Medieval Music: Plain Chant
Studying music these days I came to the subject of medieval music. What is it, and how does it sound? Being I an early music enthusiast, I already had some music from the Middle Ages in my collection. And here I want to share with you what I consider the clearest form of music: the Plain Chant.
That is, church music - better saying, Catholic church Music. The plain chant started to be used in churches around the 9th century and is still used in some churches around the world. If you hear carefully, it is noticeable that it sounds a lot like music from the Near East. This is because, first, of the Crusades - when the Muslims from various countries - called Moors by the Christians - invaded Europe and vice versa. Second, because the early church das divided between Western and Eastern Europe - the later called Orthodox church, in that time Byzantine church.
The use of a single melody line, sung into those Gothic churches, should be really beautiful. Imagine you are inside the Notre Dame Cathedral, with that marvellous acoustic. The world outside is quiet and a priest is praying a mass in Latin (you don't understand, but it is beautiful anyway). Then, a prayer (Catholic, like Hail Mary, for example) is sung by an all-male choir, all singing the same melody at the same time. Later, a verse is sung by a soloist, then the choir returns. The music ends with the mass, and only the echoes remain. Believe me, that surely made lots of people go to the Church - actually, that was one of its purposes!
Back to the future! 'Tis late and I don't want to talk so much about Medieval history of music. But here is a piece for you to hear. I'll explain more about it later. See you!
And here is a CD by L'Hespérion XX (which I absolutely LOVE). It's not about Plain Chant but I'm sure you'll want to know what it is. So, that's for next: saltarelli, estampies... medieval dances!