City Life, Country Life

On the 17th of this month we went to South Africa where we were supposed to stay for two days to separate business from pleasure. Instead, we had to do with just one and I was the one to blame since I was feeling down and had left my contact lenses somewhere in Maputo.

There are constant items in our Nelspruit shopping list like dry meat. We boil that dry meat with Brazilian black beans. It’s one of those perfect symbioses: the beans take the amazing taste of the meat and the meat takes the amazing colour of the beans. After that it’s the usual procedure of any bean stew. No secret at all, except for a good selection of dried and smoked meats. I suppose I don’t have to tell you how yummy it is…

Even now I can picture myself eating Tieta’s feijoada, on a sunny Saturday noon. As always we shared it with our adopted guest and a new Merlot wine to test: fruity, very light body, very easy to drink and really nice for that particular occasion.

I was having lunch when “A Cidade e as Serras” from Portuguese writer Eça de Queirós came to my mind. That novel defends what the Romans called aurea mediocritas, the happiness we can only find living in a very primitive, basic way, preferably country life. The main character had the perfect city life and got deadly bored. He rediscovered the pleasures of living when he was forced to stay in a farm, without any of the usual stuff money and civilization brings. ‘Could I ever feel bored like he felt?’ I remember asking to myself. The answer? ‘If civilization means feijoada and a good wine to taste, I seriously doubt!’

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