Tuesday. 9/8/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Eric Medsker

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Taste of home

When it comes to food, it’s not very often that I hear someone say, “Let’s go for Brazilian tonight.” Sure, there’s a Brazilian steakhouse in almost every capital – and I do love a good steak – but in recent months chefs from the country who are based abroad have been at pains to show that there’s far more to our cuisine. Its time has finally come.

It is hard to explain why this has taken so long. Perhaps it’s the difficulty of defining Brazilian cuisine. Chef Janaína Rueda of São Paulo’s A Casa do Porco restaurant recently told me that because of the country’s history as a cultural melting pot, our “national food” can include Italian, Japanese or Lebanese dishes – though always with a Brazilian twist, of course. That can be difficult to translate to a foreign audience. Now, however, several restaurants are determined to try.

Among the most important openings this year in New York was Fasano (pictured), which serves up delicious Milanese-Brazilian dishes and is already a São Paulo institution. Another New York opening later this year, Ella, will be headed by chef Manu Buffara from the southern city of Curitiba. And in London, chef Rafael Cagali of Da Terra is opening a second restaurant called Elis, its name a tribute to his mother and Brazilian singer Elis Regina. Alberto Landgraf from the two-Michelin-starred Oteque in Rio is also expected to open a new outpost in the UK capital called Bossa.

I’ve always been an advocate of Brazilian food. I miss the little things, like our delicious tropical juices and simple snacks such as pão de queijo (cheese bread). Now chefs such as Landgraf, Buffara and Cagali will show the world how great our country’s food can be – and I’ll finally have a few options when I’m craving it abroad. It’s almost enough to inspire me to open my own Brazilian bakery.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a senior correspondent and producer for Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Asia Pacific

Keeping the peace

A three-day visit to China by South Korea’s foreign minister Park Jin (pictured, on left, with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi) marks the first official visit by a member of president Yoon Suk-yeol’s new government. But this week, with China continuing its military drills near Taiwan and tensions with the US rising, South Korea’s government finds itself in the role of crisis mediator. China is South Korea’s largest trading partner but the US is its closest military ally. Park has said that his visit highlights the importance of keeping lines of communication open to help “reduce unnecessary misunderstandings”. Meanwhile, in a speech ahead of today’s Singapore National Day celebrations, the country’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that “a storm is gathering” in geopolitical terms. Though it will likely take direct talks between the US and China to dial down tensions, it’s laudable that nations in the region are seeking to make their voices heard and play a role in keeping the peace on their own patch.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Colombia

Enter stage left

Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president, sought to present a different look and feel at his inauguration ceremony on Sunday. Standing alongside him was Francia Márquez, Colombia’s first black female vice-president. Petro also invited a street vendor, coffee grower, street sweeper and fisherman to attend the event, alongside Spain’s King Felipe VI and nine Latin American heads of state. Noticeably absent was any senior US official. Washington has long regarded Colombia as its closest Latin American ally but relations between the two countries are likely to shift, even as the latter re-establishes diplomatic relations with neighbouring Venezuela.

For the 11 million Colombians who voted for Petro, this new government represents a chance for marginalised groups to be heard. But amid the hope and excitement, there is profound unease and scepticism among the more than 47 per cent of voters who backed his right-wing rival Rodolfo Hernández. Petro’s challenge will be to enact his ambitious agenda while healing social and political rifts in a highly polarised society.

Hear more on Petro’s inauguration from Monocle’s Bogotá correspondent Anastasia Moloney on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: mk2films

Cinema / Australia

Three to watch

The Melbourne International Film Festival might be celebrating its 70th anniversary but it is still evolving with the times. It opened on Thursday with Goran Stolevski’s queer coming-of-age story Of an Age and will close at the end of this month with Lachlan McLeod’s documentary drama Clean. Here are three other highlights as the festival enters its second week.

‘1976’, Manuela Martelli. This thriller tells the story of an affluent woman in 1970s Chile as she wakes up to the realities of living under Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime. A member of the country’s bourgeoisie, her perspective changes when a priest asks her to take care of an injured man.

‘Alcarràs’, Carla Simón. The Spanish director’s latest film (pictured) follows a family of peach farmers in a small village in Catalonia as they grapple with the prospect of losing their land. The film has already won a Golden Bear and on course for more accolades.

‘Black Fire’, Bruce McGuiness. A 1972 documentary that is as relevant today as it was upon its release, Black Fire profiles a series of First Nations activists in Australia through footage of heated political discussions, vox pops and interviews with key figures in the movement.

Image: Alamy

Culture / Switzerland

Claim to name

The Swiss are proud of many things: chocolate, watches and, of course, cheese. In Switzerland, the production of emmental cheese – or “Emmentaler”, as it’s known in Switzerland – must adhere to a six-page list of specifications, defining everything from geographical region to its ivory-yellow hue and the appropriate size of its holes (between 2cm and 4cm). The requirements are meant to preserve the cheese’s authenticity but they’re roundly ignored abroad. France and Germany, in particular, have taken to producing inauthentic versions.

Having failed to secure exclusive rights to the cheese through Europe’s patent office, Emmentaler Switzerland is taking things to the next level: the company has filed a complaint against its European imitators before the European Court of Justice and hearings are set to begin early next month. Emmentaler Switzerland’s goal is to have the word Emmentaler reserved for Swiss-produced cheese. “In a perfect world, there would only be our Emmentaler,” says Alfred Rufer, the company’s vice-director.

If emmental isn’t your slice of cheese, read about the latest artisanal cheeses from the Mediterranean in the ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’ summer newspaper, which is on select newsstands today.

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

Lolie

Héloïse Mercier is the founder and CEO of Lolie, a marketplace featuring the finest brands and products for children. Alongside Lolie’s CCO, Katie Kendrick, she has brought her passions for fashion, design and technology into the business. So why did Mercier, a computer science graduate and a Farfetch alumnus, turn to the children’s market?

Monocle Films / Global

Meet the photographers: Rena Effendi

In our latest film series, we meet and celebrate some of the people behind our iconic photography reportage. In our first episode Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi talks about her process, why she shoots on film and her assignment to Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy today.

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