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Buying expat stuff in Brasil

I’m not dead (well I’m sick and super tired, but not dead).  I’m just in the US, and have been for like a month now, letting our monkey visit the grandparents and great grand parents (and well doing a lot of flying for work).

And after a month, I realize while it’s nice to see the family I miss Brasil.  It’s grown on me.  I miss being able to walk to the stores, and buying fresh veggies and bread.  I miss the “Brasil” of it.  Of course while in Brasil, all I could dream about was all of the things from the US I missed.

It’s funny, I never bought sparkling pomegranate juice in the US, but now that I can’t find it for $3.50 in every store, I want it! I rarely ate cheddar, because I’m a havarti, muenster, jack fan, but now I want it, and I want to eat mac n’ cheese!  I also want havarti, muenster and jack, but they don’t have that in Brasil.  It reminds you of home, when the flavor hits your tongue you remember more than just food, you remember the place.  Cherry Caprisun reminds me of sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in Germany as a 7 year old… not that I like it, or drink it EVER, but every now and again I want to be taken back to Germany. Kind of like feijoada for my husband.  Even though my nanny swears she loves my black beans, my husband complains because it’s too American, not feijoada!  And now that I’m in the US, I want my morning Pão, and cooking everything with loads of garlic.  I miss food and baked goods made from scratch not a mix (gasp! I know, but I’ve really gained an appreciation for REAL cooking).

With that being said, here’s my list of the foods expats (American) miss the most:

Cheddar cheese: I’ve seen it at Pao de Acucar in Brooklin Paulista, and bought it (R$88 a kilo!) because I wanted mac n; cheese. I have also found it at the CEAGSP cheese stands.  Neither consistently.

Chocolate chips: They do have them here. Chocorob in Brooklin has it for R$5 for 250 grams.  It’s a bit waxy and not creamy like the good stuff in the US.  But I just buy the bars of Garoto chocolate they sell and chop it up, white, dark, semi-sweet, milk, it’s all really good.  If you get Crocante, you get the nice little toffee with the chocolate, and it’s better than a Hershey bar any day.

Corn syrup: My Pao de Acucar doesn’t have it, but my friend in Morumbi says Karo is in the same section as the honey.  I buy it for a tiny jar at Chocorob because I don’t cook with it that often ever.

Agave Syrup: They sell it and it’s expensive as is Maple Syrup.  I bring both of this in from the US, as a bottle usually lasts me about a year, so Merry Christmas to me… and I do buy the BIG bottles 🙂

Mexican Spices: I’ve found them, although they’re not cheap.  Same thing with Lemon Pepper.  It’s just a matter of learning what they call things. Like Nutmeg, it doesn’t come ground, but I’ve learned to love the freshness of grating my own nutmeg!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake: R$65 at Sam’s Club. I’d rather just make Cheesecake from scratch, and never really ate it anyways.

They do sell small avocados here, and they’re not sweet, they’re perfect for making guacamole.  The big ones are too sweet for my liking. It did piss me off to find Avocados for .44 at Walmart here…. in the snow… when they’re like R$5 a kilo back in the tropics of Brasil.

Everything else you want, you’ve got to make yourself.  Brasil isn’t like the US where you can buy everything pre-made. If you want black beans, you cook it from scratch. You want diced tomatoes with spices, you can buy a can of whole tomatoes (though most boil the tomatoes themselves) dice it and add your spices. That goes for rotel tomatoes. You want them, then boil the diced tomatoes, chop up some hot peppers, and add a bit of salt, boil, and you’ve got something pretty close. There are not huge sections of canned veggies and fruit, or ready made dinners.  Which is good as canned food is bad for you anyway right?

Tortillas are pretty much Wrap 10s, and they’re not that great if you like REAL tortillas… and if you do, well learn to make them yourself.. and give up on corn tortillas all together.

You want chicken broth, substitute their bouillon cubes, or boil yourself a chicken! I usually buy Swanson flavor packets, as they’ve got a great brothy flavor, but are just packets so easy to bring a bunch in the suitcase.  I’m too lazy to boil a whole chicken to get that yummy broth.

Things I have yet to find:

Clorox Wipes: I’ve seen a “how to make your own” online, but they don’t have the same super sturdy paper towels here.

Cheap Toys: Well you can buy them in Centro, but they’re “cheap” as well; you know ala China. Cool toys are more expensive here. So I’m loading up during the holidays for future birthdays.

Bath and Body Works: If you’re into room sprays, I would bring them over from Bath & Body Works, as they are super cheap during their sales. And all the smelly stuff is either lavender or something else yucky, or super expensive fancy stuff.  Like hand soap, if you want nice you go to L’Octainne (which I like) but would rather put out some froofy B&BW pump soap.


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

9 responses »

  1. I was wondering where you’ve been…..

    Interesting to see the comparison in availability of products…I was shocked that they sell those Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes in Brasil! The world is small!

    It’s cute to hear you say that you miss Brazil….I guess it’s inevitable for it to have a place in your heart……

    How long will you be in the US?

    Feel better soon!


  2. On our trip back in September, I loaded up on toys. It’s so painful to put out R$75 for something that costs US$10 (or less). My favorite is Melissa & Doug stuff. It’s so expensive here and you can get some of it for less than $10. If you are looking and still have time, Melissa & Doug always have sales or they always seems to have at TJ Maxx. I also brought back chocolate chips (we just ran out…), Agave nectar and maple syrup, spices… I wish I could have brought a crate of avocados with me.

    Have fun and happy travels (and holidays).

  3. They have been selling Veja wipes here in Brazil. They seem to be similar to Clorax wipes, but I have not tried them so I cannot say. My list is similar to yours – spices, packets, maple syrup and toys. I add kids clothes, since with sales Old Navy stuff is cheap and so much better quality than what you get here. The other thing now on my list is OxyClean and the Oxyclean gel stain remover. Gets my son’s sock white again without soaking. Cleaning supplies in general are just so much better in the US!

    • Yeah I bring in OxyClean gel, but I haven’t ever given the Brazillian stuff a try because I guess I’m an expat snob. I carry the Clorox Pen too, which I’m sure they have. And yes, I did see the Veja wipes, but I haven’t tried them either… again snob 😉

  4. I second the chocolate chips. The ones I found here were really awful. I can’t believe you did not mention peanut butter! Yummy yum yum. I also miss alternative ‘milks’ like Almond Milk. They have some soy milk here, but I don’t like soy milk. I could make my own almond milk if I could find almonds….

    I could not agree with you more about the toy/price issue. I mean, I COULD buy matchbox cars, but for double the price. It more irks the frugal/practical side of me than anything else.

    Thanks for your post- your little one looks incredibly happy with Grandpa and so loved. ❤

    • LOL you are right Peanbut Butter… they have Peter Pan only, and we are Skippy fans so bring it in… HOW could I forget!

  5. I’m 98% in favor of the “cooking everything from scratch” way of life here… but the 2% comes from the fact that when I’m looking for new recipes to try, many of them involve ingredients that are pre-prepared (like your diced tomatoes w/spices example) – and I’m not willing to put in the effort to make several of the “pre-prepared” ingredients from scratch every time I want to try a new recipe. Maybe I need to use a Brazilian cookbook instead.

    Random story – I was buying “Alho com Sal” at the supermarket, and my (Brazilian) husband was like, “Don’t buy that!!! We can make it at home!”

    …well, over a month has gone by and he has not taken the initiative to make alho com sal. So when we ran out, I bought some more. Seriously, it’s like R$1.15 a packet, and I’d rather invest that exorbitant amount of money than the time it would take to make it from scratch :-p


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