Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Nefarious Tactics of Brazilian BBQ

Quick aside to start things off: Complete Tangent now has its own URL: www.completetangent.ca. So yay me! Also, there are now no restrictions on posting, you don't need to be logged in anywhere and I know some people got annoyed. So post away if you're so inclined. Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging:

Last weekend we went to a Brazilian BBQ place, a first-time experience for me. In case you aren't familiar with this experience it is as follows:

  1. Pay a flat price.
  2. Desperately try to cram $45 worth of meat into your face-hole.

While this is the concept in it's simplicity, I think we can all agree that any business plan revolving around giving the customer as much as they want of the most expensive thing on the menu is not one destined for success. So the only hope a restaurant like this has for ensuring financial gain is to make sure that no matter how much meat you plan to eat, you never achieve that goal. And the way they do this is through the Nefarious Tactics.

Let's all just pause for a moment and remember that they're better at this than you. You're going to walk in there thinking "Man, they are going to have to cart me out of there in a wheelbarrow, it's gonna be great." No, that's not going to happen. You can try and implement the plan, but they will mitigate their losses somehow using one of the tactics below. So while it is my hope that this post will be of some help in giving you the meat sweats and keytone-induced headache you're looking for; it's going to require a championship effort on your part just to break even. But you need the knowledge first, so let's have at it:

Nefarious Tactic #1: The Cheese Ball
"Hello sir! So glad to have you with us tonight. It is a Brazilian custom that I first provide you with the traditional breaded cheese ball to start your evening. I will also remain here to watch you consume it. Eventually you will become so uncomfortable that you will eat it no matter what your intentions. It is tradition!*"

This is how they start the evening - with a small lump of condensed fat. As we all know, cheese kills appetite, and they mask this meat-reducing fat ball under the guise of tradition. Don't listen! Feign lactose intolerance!

Nefarious Tactic #2: Sides
"Here is the menu of side dishes. I would suggest maybe the rice? Or possibly some black beans?"
"Do you have any salad?"
"Certainly sir! I shall bring you five plates of our excellent potato salad."

Side dishes are a full-on meat blocker. If they can find any way to jam some cheap carbs into you they'll do it, knowing that you're going to feel as though you should order something to go with your meat. And if you go all leafy-green on them they can still fire up...

Nefarious Tactic #3: The Unordered Side Dishes
"They are complementary! Everyone gets these, it wouldn't be Brazilian BBQ without them!"

Here are the four sides that we got without even ordering. They give them to everyone whether they want them or not, knowing people will feel obligated to try them:

  1. Tomato Salsa - Not a bad one. Just meant to accentuate the meats. It can't all be a ploy after all.
  2. Pimentas Malaguetta, AKA Brazilian Chillies - Like the Salsa, also fine. Hey, maybe I was wrong about this stuff!
  3. Farofa, AKA Roasted Cassava Flour - Say whaaat? Roasted flour? How is that ever a good idea? By the way, if you didn't know what Cassava is, it's a woody carbohydrate root similar to a really starchy potato. Just what you want when you're looking for a meat belly, right?
  4. Deep fried Banana, Cassava, and Polenta - If you had any questions about what is going on here, this should clear things right up. That's three - count them, THREE - different kinds of carbs that have been deep fried for crying out loud. It's like three different kinds of potato chips! FYI, none of these things are as expensive as meat.

So that's it for the non-meat-stick group. Now let's look at what tactics are employed on the meat sticks themselves:

Nefarious Tactic #4: The "Are you kidding me?" Meats
"Sir, you have never tried chicken hearts? That is the most delightful part of the chicken! Really, you should try several, just so you may say you have. If that is not to your liking, I understand. If it is not too much to ask though, would you mind if I inquire whether your wife would like the company of a real man this evening? What a silly question... of course you would not mind! You would not even eat a chicken heart!"

I'm not kidding here. There was a guy walking around with chicken hearts, and he was bee-lining it to the most buff alpha-dogs he could find. You'd see a short conversation, then the waiter would shrug, followed by the guy getting a macho look and a mouthful of chicken heart. Yeahhhh... not sure I need to be that macho. Besides, I had a grilled-cheese and chicken heart sandwich for lunch so I was all good.

Nefarious Tactic #5: Garlic Bread Guy
"Gaaaarlic bread... gaaaarlic bread! Who wants garlic bread? You do. So do you. That whole table does. It's garlic bread! GARLIC BREAD FOR EVERYONE!"

I like garlic bread as much as the next guy, probably much, much, much more to be honest. But I was not going to be seduced by the buttery goodness of garlic bread. Make sure you're not either.

The Coup de Grace Nefarious Tactic: The Pineapple Finisher
"Everyone at this table is going to eat this pineapple right now. RIGHT NOW!"

This is the one that finally got me. They bring out this roasted pineapple on a stick that's covered in cinnamon and sugar, then carve off big hunks for everyone to mow down on. It's absolutely fantastic and they will jam as much of it into you as they can. The reason this is the most nefarious of the nefarious tactics is because they know that once you've had the deliciously sweet pineapple, the idea of chowing back some beef ribs suddenly feels unpalatable. I think there's some sort of formula they employ that leads to a guy in some back room screaming "I need a pineapple stopper on Table 14 STAT!" once a group gets too close to their meat/profit threshold.
That said, I'm pretty proud that I made them bring out the Pineapple Finisher three times.

So now you're well informed for the next time you go to Brazilian BBQ.

*I'd like to point out that I have absolutely no idea how to write in a Portuguese accent so I'm just going with what I think is funniest.

I recognize that everyone gets old. Hey, it happens. It's not like I'm a doddering old man mind you, and I still have a full head of hair (shut it Morphy). I creak a little more than usual, but I also severely abused my body in the judo years so that's to be expected. But for the love of god can't I just go a whole night's sleep without getting up to go pee? At what age did my bladder suddenly morph into that of a 9-year old girl on a long car ride?

I now average one pee every 2 hours at night... every 2 hours! That's insane! I'll go 12 hours during the daytime and not pee, but now I can't go a measly 120 minutes while I'm sleeping? Am I sleep-guzzling water? Am I unconsciously standing at the sink with my eyes closed in the middle of the night while repeatedly refilling a 4L milk jug with water and knocking it back, only to stumble into my bed and wake up thinking "Man, I really gotta go"?

No! That's not it at all! And do you know how I know? Because I wake up every morning feeling completely dehydrated. It's like I spent the entire night eating dust and ground-up sponges! So now I'm wandering around in the night, eating dust and ground-up sponges, shunning water, and only returning to bed every two hours so I can wake up and go pee.

Getting old sucks.

Last week I wrote about how ridiculous it is that in tennis they would use a word like "Love" to represent a number instead of just using the number itself. And then I thought about Canadian coins: penny, nickel, dime, quarter, loonie, toonie. Yeah, so... people in glass houses.


  1. The full head of hair claim is ... wait for it .... a bald-faced lie.

    On the other hand, the Brazilian BBQ conspiracy claims are quite accurate based on my experience in Sao Paulo.

    - Morph

  2. Paul,

    You are making me miss Brazilian food, yum!! But here are my thoughts on your Churrascaria experience.

    1. $45 is ridiculous, even the crappy one in Vancouver is less than $30. In Brazil I think it was 40-50 real which is like $20-30 CDN.

    2. Pão de queijo (aka Brazilian cheese/bread balls) are freakin' delicious that is why you must eat them, even if it is at the expense of a little meat.

    2. Farofa = tasty thing to dip your meat in - in my experience more of a condiment than a side dish..... but I went to Brazil with a bunch of white people, maybe we were ill informed.

    4. Pineapple helps you digest all the meat you just gorged on so definitely eat some.... but only once you are ready to explode from meat-y goodness.

    5. Why didn't' they have the fried/grilled cheese cubes?? YUM!!! (They don't have them at the crappy Vancouver one either.)

    6. Although I will never eat them again (having to cut off the aorta is pretty disturbing - and as a rule I do not eat organ meat) chicken hearts are actually delicious, you should have tried one. I was totally surprised as I thought it was one of those "let's eat all the crappy bits of the animal" foods.


    1. I forgot about the cheese cubes! They were there, but I didn't have any. I knew them for what they were...

  3. Jealous! I wish the crappy Vancouver one was as good as the one you guys went to, pineapple, fried plantains, farofa and the cheese cubes. Clearly that just means I need to come visit you in Australia to have some good Brazilian food........or maybe just go to Brazil since it is closer an' all...