When you think of the world's great cuisines, Brazilian food doesn't spring to mind. But that is about to change.
Outside of Brazil,the South American nation is most famous for its BBQ, or churrascarria. But inside the country, a new movement celebrating regional foods is booming. And ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazilians are hoping the world will get a new taste of Brazil.
The food here is fried, it's salty, but it's really tasty.
Helvecio Oliveira, the owner of the restaurant, says food from Minas is simple food. The state of Minas is named after its mines.
Historically, it supplied gold to what was then the capital, Rio. Food had to be easy to transport because it was taken on mules for days, Oliveira says. So the cuisine here uses a lot of salted beef and beans.
And its humble beginnings, Oliveira says, gave food from Minas a bad rap. It was looked at as poor people's food.
And that was the case for Brazilian food in general. Even though the continent-sized country has 26 states, each with different histories and flavors, as in many post-colonial nations, people looked down on what was native. A good restaurant was French, Italian or Portuguese — but certainly not Brazilian.
Mara Salles, the chef owner of Tordesilhas in Sao Paulo, was one of the first chefs to take Brazilian food seriously. When she started, she says, there were no Brazilian chefs focusing on Brazilian gastronomy.
"I started teaching at Brazil's first chef school in 2002. It was the very beginning of the Brazilian gastronomy movement," she says. "People at the time were into other cuisines, and the chefs had to have worked in other countries to be respected. I had none of that. It was really hard to make them see that Brazil has a great diversity."
Then something interesting happened.
When the Brazilian boom began a decade ago, Brazilians started gaining self-esteem. And, Salles says, everything Brazilian became more well-known outside the country.
Which made it more valuable inside the country. Professionally run restaurants serving regional food from all over Brazil began popping up. And now some of the best restaurants in the world are here. This year, Alex Atala's restaurant D.O.M., which focuses on Amazonian ingredients, was named among the world's top 10.
And many restaurants are becoming commercial successes that have an eye on the international market.
Coco Bambu is a chain of restaurants that focuses on the coastal cuisine of the state of Ceara — that means a lot of shrimp, fish, creamy sauces. The 20-something partners behind the brand are Arthur Moraes and Ronald Aguiar.
"Brazilians are traveling the whole world now, and they eat at the best restaurants. And in a way people, are looking for something new. And regional Brazilian restaurants are new, in a way," Aguiar says.
In five years, their chain has grown from one location to eight. And Moreaes says Brazilian regional cuisine will go global with the World Cup and the Olympics. Reservations at their restaurants are already sold out for the month of the World Cup in 2014.
Next year the group is planning to open a branch in the heart of Miami.
"We are taking that new Brazil taste, that new Brazilian gastronomy that Brazilians love, to a wider audience," Morais says.
The White House has acknowledged that as a student at Harvard Law School in the 1980s, the president briefly lived with his Kenyan-born uncle, after it first denied the two had ever met.
Earlier this week, Onyango Obama, 69, faced a deportation that resulted from a 2011 drunk-driving arrest. At the hearing, which he won, the judge asked about his family and Onyango replied that he had a nephew named Barack Obama, adding "He's the president of the United States."
According to The Boston Globe, Onyango also testified that while the future president was attending Harvard Law School, he briefly stayed with him.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement that President Obama "did stay with him [Onyango] for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready."
"After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The president has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10," Schultz said.
That statement contradicts a January 2012 article in the Globe about Onyango Obama, in which the White House is reported to have said the two never met.
The Associated Press writes:
"Onyango Obama, the half-brother of the president's late father, testified he has lived in the U.S. since 1963, when he entered on a student visa. He had a series of immigration hearings in the 1980s and was ordered to leave the country in 1992 but remained."
"His immigration status didn't become public until his 2011 drunken-driving arrest in Framingham, Mass. Police said after the arrest he told them, 'I think I will call the White House.'"
"In the president's memoir, Dreams from My Father, he writes about his 1988 trip to Kenya and refers to an Uncle Omar, who matches Onyango Obama's background and has the same date of birth."
When the big jobs report comes out Friday morning, we'll hear a lot about what happened last month in the job market.
But whatever happened last month, it won't change this fact: the job market still sucks.
The official unemployment rate — which includes only people who are out of work and actively looking for a job — is still much, much higher than it was before the recession. The same is true for broader unemployment, which also includes people who are working part time but want to be working full time, as well as those who want a job but have given up looking in the past year.
If you're unemployed, there's a good chance you'll be unemployed for a long time: the average duration of unemployment exploded during the recession and hasn't improved much since.
Perhaps most alarmingly, lots of people are giving up on work altogether. The percentage of adults who are working or looking for work — known as the participation rate — has been falling steadily for years now.
The jobs report may show that some or all of these figures are improving. But even if the job market is slowly getting better, the big picture will still be bleak.
Wildlife officials in southwest Florida who are struggling to save dozens of beached pilot whales say there's hope that at least some of the animals might escape after they spotted at least 20 of them swimming in deeper water.
The Associated Press reports:
"Blair Mase, a fisheries stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a Coast Guard helicopter found two pods of whales in about 12 feet of water, 'significantly north' of their previous location in Everglades National Park. The short-finned pilot whale is a deep-water species that cannot survive long in the shallows."
As we reported earlier, the stranding of about 45 pilot whales was first noticed on Tuesday in a remote area of Florida's Everglades.
NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami that more than 30 people and about 15 boats are involved Thursday in an ongoing operation to redirect the whales.
Another NOAA stranding coordinator, Liz Stratton, says rescuers are working on trying to lead the animals into deeper water.
"We're going to do some herding and maybe a little bit of hazing, where we are trying to coax them out of the situation we're in now," she told reporters.
Allen says those tactics include revving boat engines and banging on metal pipes to herd the pilot whales out to the open ocean.
The AP says:
"The short-finned pilot whales typically live in very deep water. Even if rescuers were able to begin nudging the 41 remaining whales out to sea, they would encounter a series of sandbars and patches of shallow water along the way.
"The species also is known for its close-knit social groups: If one whale gets stuck or stays behind, the others are likely to stay or even beach themselves as well."
Stratton says because of the shallow water, and the difficulty of working with such large animals, capturing and rehabilitating them is not an option.
Shell has just floated the hull of the world's largest vessel out of its dry dock in South Korea. It's so massive that if you stood it up, it would be 1,601 feet tall, reaching higher into the sky than the Empire State Building.
The vessel, called the Prelude, will actually be used more as a floating island than a ship. It won't be able to travel under its own power. Shell plans to tow it and anchor it about 300 miles off the coast of western Australia for 25 years.
There, the 600,000-ton Prelude will serve as a liquefied natural gas, or LNG, facility, which lets the company tap into the natural gas deep at sea. The gas will then be chilled into a liquid, which makes the gas easier to store and ship.
Smaller ships will come and pick up the natural gas and transport it to customers. Shell's Prelude is so huge it can store enough liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fill 175 Olympic swimming pools. It will stay in place during stormy weather and is built to withstand a Category 5 cyclone, according to the company.
The Prelude will allow Shell to tap into natural gas reserves that have previously been too expensive to extract, according to Kayla Macke, a U.S. spokeswoman for the company.
She declined to comment on the cost of the drilling project, but noted that Samsung, the South Korea company that built the Prelude, put the cost of the vessel at $3 billion back in 2011.
Previously, the world's largest vessel was the Jahre Viking, an oil tanker that's 1,504 feet long, according to Guinness World Records.
Macke says the Prelude will be similar to the offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, adding that there will likely be around 100 workers who will perform two-week shifts at sea before heading back to shore.
Energy companies are increasingly going far offshore for oil and natural gas.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in a report last year, estimated that there are large potential reserves of oil and gas in the oceans of southeast Asia, off the coast of Australia and around Cuba.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that deep-water drilling is the "next big frontier for oil and natural gas production."
Australia could be a big winner. By 2020, the country is projected to more than double its gas production of 49 billion cubic meters (1730 billion cubic feet) in 2010, according to this year's gas market report from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics in Australia.
Earlier this year, the Economist noted that by "eliminating pipelines and other onshore costs, floating LNG production may prove the blessing Australia needs to stay in the gas game."