I can barely believe it, but I have already been in Brazil for nearly a week. In that time, I have done multiple reports and made numerous posts to Facebook and Twitter, cataloging some of Rio de Janeiro’s most iconic sights and elaborate Olympic venues.
But nothing has gained as much attention as a seemingly innocuous Tweet about a Brazilian culinary staple.
— Matt Pearl (@MattPearl11) August 3, 2016
On Wednesday, a large group of us went on a day-long tour of the city, and midway through we stopped at the famous Selaron Steps. As we wrapped up and awaited our buses, one of my colleagues began talking with a Rio resident and pointed at an item in her hand from a street vendor.
It was a coxinha.
I had no idea what a coxinha was, but my colleague described it as a chicken hush puppy. Then she started passing it around.
I had to try … and I’m glad it did, because it was delicious. Within minutes, I posted the proof of my culinary victory to Twitter. It received a few likes and re-Tweets but quickly sank into the ether, like nearly every other Tweet, never to surface again.
Except it did.
The following morning, I opened Twitter to find dozens of notifications. Someone famous in Brazil must have re-Tweeted me, because I was soon hearing from numerous natives about their delicacy. They all wrote in Portuguese, and I immediately clicked the “Translate” button to joyous results:
Oh os gringo feliz comendo coxinha https://t.co/6XbbVCNDqr
— Maria Luiza (@luahtz) August 4, 2016
Translated: “Oh, the happy gringo eats a coxinha …”
— URSINHA✨ (@Manuh_ursinha1D) August 4, 2016
Translated: “Give me your coxinha? Please!”
A primeira coxinha a gente nunca esquece hahahahahaha https://t.co/8bAuFGF6sa
— Timmy Turner (@Tibasoulja) August 4, 2016
Translated: “The first coxinha, we never forget …”
Isso justifica qualquer derrapada diplomática das OlimPiadas! https://t.co/WR5nRhkpsQ
— Reginaldo Yeoman (@ReginaldoYeoman) August 4, 2016
Translated: “This justifies any diplomatic skidding of the Olympics!”
que fofo os gringo https://t.co/TpfkfqG3Xa
— vulpix (@beatrivx) August 4, 2016
Translated: “How cute is the gringo …”
— bruna sasso ;* (@sassobru) August 4, 2016
Translated: “Even the foreigners like our coxinhas! Hahaha they know what’s good.”
Coxinhas conquistam paladar de estrangeiros. https://t.co/yB0Z5oPjlj
— Polaca (@PolacaMiss) August 4, 2016
Translated: “Coxinhas conquer the palates of foreigners.”
By the time Thursday ended, I had received coxinha recommendations for both Rio and my home city of Atlanta. My Tweet had received more than 150 re-Tweets and more than 350 likes.
How strange … and, at the same time, how beautiful.
I am a foodie at heart and a traveler in spirit, so I relished seeing the pride that the respondents on Twitter took in both. One little coxinha created a pretty great memory completely unrelated to the Olympics, even as it is totally related to the Olympics. The Games brought me to Rio, and Rio brought me to the coxinha.
I’m excited for the surprises and little delights that have yet to come.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.