Sao Paulo Food Parks

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In a concrete jungle with over 10 million inhabitants, the paulistas (inhabitants of the city of São Paulo, in Brazil) have found a new way to disconnect from their busy routines and unwind… at least during lunchtime.

The so called food parks, unutilized public spaces that have been converted into open air food courts, are the new trend in São Paulo’s gastronomic scene. In these spaces, up to 30 different trailers, or food trucks, serve up to 3000 thousand customers a day with dishes ranging from traditional Brazilian food all the way to Chinese noodles, Vietnamese subs and British Fish n’ Chips. The trucks themselves are already an attraction, bearing creative names and customized paintings that represent the origins of the meals they prepare.

The food park craze started off recently in Brazil in the city of São Paulo and has already spread to other major Brazilian capitals such as Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, where they help revitalize areas of the city that have been left aside and, at the same time, democratize access to quality food since the gourmet meals on food parks cost, on average, half as much as those found in shopping malls’ food courts or restaurants.

The food trucks also represent a fantastic alternative for office workers since many are located close to office complexes and offer affordable and diverse kinds of meals for those in a hurry. Moreover, and much aligned with trends such as the sharing economy and sustainability, newer food parks are venturing into areas other than food, offering open green spaces for people to watch movies, practice yoga and expose arts and crafts.

Ocupa Food Park in São Paulo’s Vila Mariana neighborhood, for instance, hosts plays, movie screenings and workshops aside from being home to a weekly organic food fair, in a clear example of how food parks are going from a gastronomic revolution into a full-blown reinvention of public space utilization.

However, as with many novelty trends in Brazil, fuzzy laws and regulations have been preventing food parks from flourishing even further, since local city councils have started taxing the food trailers’ owners as much as they tax their shopping mall counterparts, squeezing their profit margins and making it harder for paulistas to make the most out of their city.

 

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The Russian Woman

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Russia has always been a particularly conservative country when it comes to the roles of men and women within society, despite the claims of the Soviet Union’s equality between the two genders. Men and women might have equal legal and economic rights, but there are still clearly defined social roles, which are undeniably constrictive. This made the actions of groups like Pussy Riot in the last few years quite so extraordinary, a group fighting for ‘girl power’ in a society that only allows this type of female freedom and liberation in certain circumstances. This is also the case on the more private level, at home and within a family setting.

Whilst the emancipation of women might be a widespread normality across much of the Western world, Russian women still stay faithful to the traditional views of what constitutes male and female roles in a relationship and family. It’s even evident in the language alone. The translation of ‘married’ for a woman is быть замужем (bit zamyzhem), which literally means ‘to be behind the man’, both an indicator of the male being the protectorate and of a woman’s subservient position. Another example of this is the well-known Russian saying Мужчина – голова, а женщина – шея (myzhchina golova, a zhenshchina sheya) meaning ‘the man is the head, but the woman is the neck’, a sign of the fact that despite the control that the women may have of the man, he is ultimately the one to make the decisions.

Undeniably, since the collapse of the USSR, there has been progress in the number of women entering university, obtaining a successful job and pursuing a career, however, family and getting married always remains the utmost priority for Russian women. This is particularly the case when it comes to being a mother, with Russian mothers helping their children selflessly, even when they have established themselves as independent adults. For example, when children finish university, they will not pay back the loan that they have inevitably taken from their parents. This would be deemed a sign of greed and mistrust in Russian culture.

In conclusion, despite the impression within society that Russian women are becoming more self-sufficient and supporting themselves financially, it seems very unlikely that they will ever be able to stray from their deeply-ingrained ideas of what constitutes a mother and a female member of society: her family. This will never change, unless the language changes. The gender roles are so intrinsic in the lexis itself that with the woman always being the subservient gender in the language, she will never be able to put her foot forward in society and completely fend for herself.