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Home Cooking

Posted on Tue Jan 31st, 2023 @ 6:19am by President Tomás Garcia Cardoso

Mission: September, 2022
Location: Cardoso Home, Rio de Janeiro
Timeline: Date 2022-09-03 at 1130

Tourism in Rio de Janeiro had been on an eternal upswing since they hosted the world cup. Despite COVID-19 a few years before, people were pouring into the coastal city for one event after another, like the Rockin' in Rio concert series that brought hundreds of thousands of shirtless young tourists in to the city by the day. Others just came for the sights, or the culture, or the beach.

The Cardosos had a beachfront condominium which provided an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the beach between them. Spending time in the sun was an almost daily activity, but they hardly let the party atmosphere affect them anymore. If anything, they seemed to ignore everyone else entirely.

The door to the condo opened and Mariana entered first. She was gorgeous with tan, freckled skin, dark features, and the body of a supermodel carefully hidden under a flowing flowery white dress. She had married a man 11 years older than her, but that wasn’t unusual at all in Brazil, especially among successful men and beautiful women. Since then, alot had changed for her. She smiled and lowered her purse down on a nearby side table and proceeded into the luxurious modern apartment.

The light poured in through the vast window at the other side of the living area, but while Rio was at constant play, the Cardosos had been to First Saturday Mass. The next to enter was Renata, Tomas’ 22 year old daughter born from a different woman before they met. She was just as beautiful as her step-mother, despite the lack of blood relation. Her skin was a bit darker on the caramel spectrum and she had gorgeous, delicate doe eyes. After her, the 14 year old Maria and the five year old Juan crossed the threshold, their father entered after them, closing and locking the door behind them.

“Maria and Juan, get out of those church clothes. Renata, help me get lunch ready.” Mariana said with a commanding tone. She wasn’t harsh, but often achieved her ends with direct sweetness. As the two youngest went to do as she said without much of a word, Tom approached his wife and placed his hand on the small of her back.

“I’m going to take a look at my speech for the rally later today, okay Mari?” he asked in a tender tone. It wasn’t really a question so much as a courtesy, but one given in the spirit of love it was meant. He kissed her and then walked over to the desk, a large light-wood furniture piece in front of a glass bookshelf on one side of the public space. Mariana watched as he removed his suit jacket, placed it on the back of the office chair, loosened his tie, and lowered himself down into the chair to tuck into work.

She turned to Renata and gave a sad grin.

“You know, Nata, I’m not sure I’ll ever see your father again if he wins this election.” she said, placing a hand on the young woman’s arm.

Renata smiled back and offered a nod.

“You might have to demand an office at Planalto so that you can watch the top of his graying head as he looks down at documents.”

The women shared a laugh and moved together to the kitchen. The kitchen sink was made into a large island that separated the kitchen from the rest of the common space. Inlaid in potted soil were fresh herbs which Mariana often used in her cooking. They moved back and took turns washing their hands.

“Normally, if I cook steak, he comes running over and I have a few minutes with him. A few more if I make him two.” Mariana said in response, though it wasn’t clear if the statement was related in any way.

Renata raised an eyebrow.

“So I would assume steak is on the menu for today?” Renata asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Steak is going to be on the menu every day, Querida.” Mariana answered, and her smile grew slightly more wicked. “But, today, it will go along with beans, rice, steak fries, and a salad.”

“You’re crazy Mãe.” Renata said, watching the woman who had raised her since she was 7 years old. “You’re obsessed with Pai noticing you.”

“I am.” Mariana responded without any shame or reservation. “And it works too. I’m not ashamed to love my husband, Nata, and one day, I know you won’t be ashamed to love yours.”

Renata looked away suddenly, diverting her eye contact a bit. There was something of hesitation or reservation in her reaction to that, but Mariana really didn’t seem to notice.

“The beans are started and just need to be heated up.” Mariana instructed as she turned on some of the burners on the stove. “Put them on and then you can get started on the salad. I’ll finish the corn and cook the steak, okay?”

“Sure.” Renata said, moving to do as her mother asked her.

About a half hour later, the meal was finishing up and Renata had left for the bathroom and her shower. Brazilians showered often, and Tom had even gotten another one in after he finished looking at his speech. He approached the kitchen now in a blue t-shirt and smiled at his wife.

“Steak, is it?” He asked, moving around her and putting his hands on her shapely hips. “You spoil me.”

“You’re a lucky man, they say.” She said with a smile, gloating a bit at the comments made in the media about her appearance. Even among First Ladies, she would be attractive. “They say you get more meat and potatoes than other men, meu bem.”

The woman was smiling from ear to ear as he embraced her from behind, clearly feeling that her carefully made plan had worked.

“Lunch is ready. Would you call the children to the table?” She asked, turning to her husband and fluttering her eyes. He responded with a loving expression and then did as she had asked him.

A few minutes later, they were all sitting around the table with forks and knives in hands. Tomás had been very complimentary of the meal, much to the delight of Mariana and, even, to the mild pleasure of Renata. Good cooking was an important part of life in the Cardoso home, and everyone tended to be much happier when meals were tasty and plentiful.

“Will you cook lunch at the President’s house, Mamáe?” Came the voice of little Juan as he forked at bit of steak and ate it.

“Máe won’t have time to cook for us, Juan. She’ll be the First Lady.” Maria responded in a kind tone.

“What’s a First Lady?” Juan asked, looking at the youngest of his two older sisters.

“The First Lady is what they call the wife of the President.” Mariana smiled at her son, Pai wins, I’ll be a bit busier than normal. But I plan on still doing a lot of cooking and, when I can’t, Nata will do it for me.”

Renata furrowed her brow at that pronouncement but didn’t seem particularly angry about it.

“Won’t they have a cook there or something?” She asked.

“There is a chef on staff, yes. And valets can make food too.” Tomás answered and then took a sip of his water.

“I don’t need a chef to feed my family. I Can do it just fine myself.” Mariana answered with a bit of bite. She looked at her husband and offered a brow-raised frown. “Are you trying to tell me something?”

Tomás chuckled despite his wife’s characteristic intensity. He looked at her and winked.

“Only how much I love you, and that your steak comes straight from heaven.” He said smoothly. She smiled, as she always did, immediately softened.

“You’re so sweet, Tom.” She said, almost blushing.

“But can a chef make whatever I want?” Juan asked, looking over at his sister with big eyes.

Maria just smiled at him and shook her head.

“Yes, but..I think we should just let it go for now, Juan.” She answered. “I am grieving over the loss of the beach, however.”

Maria was a bright girl who felt things very deeply. She was quiet, generally, and didn’t like to draw attention to herself. Their religious life suited her better than anyone else in the family, but the increasingly public forum of their lives was a source of discomfort for her.

“We’ll have a pool. A private pool.” Renata responded to her younger sister with a grin. Unlike her, she was lively, but equally emotional. A dreamer. “I can’t wait to bathe in the sun every day without fat American men staring at me.”

“Well, they never looked at me.” The 14 year old said, withdrawing a bit out of uncertainty. “So, I guess I don’t care about that.”

“Yes they do. You’re just lost in your head, so you don’t notice.” Renata responded with a chuckle as she finished her bite. “I, for one, plan to take Brasilia by storm. Find myself a nice politician to marry.”

“As long as he’s devout in his religion.” Her father said with a slight growl, baring his teeth past his thick beard, “and is good at dodging bullets.”

The table laughed at that together, particularly Renata and Mariana. They enjoyed his biting sense of humor sometimes.

“Well, he’ll be a member of the movement, so I’m sure he’ll be practiced at both.” Renata responded, smiling at her father. She was often distant these days, talking often but keeping her true thoughts and feelings very quiet. She was never a mystery before, but it was starting. “So I assume we need to do the normal thing at this rally today, right? Smile, wave, look cute and supportive.”

“Yes, of course. You all do it so well.” Tom answered with a wink. “I’ll be talking about economic and constitutional reform for the most part and then we’ll be walking the line and greeting supporters. I don’t expect anything crazy or strenuous. Then we can get out of there and come back for another one of your mother’s fantastic meals.”

There were smiles at that, and then their conversation diverged to other topics. Eventually, as they all finished their meals, a prayer was said and the family peeled off to get ready for the rally.


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