Rice vs. Rice

Last Sunday, my husband and I had his cousin from Panama over for a gathering/lunch. I told her I was going to cook “bacalhoada”, a traditional Portuguese dish of cod fish, and she offered to bring “arroz con pollo”, “rice with chicken” (literally translated), which is a very traditional dish in all of Latin America. I was delighted! The last time I ate “arroz com frango” (“arroz con pollo” in Portuguese) was about 10 years ago when I was still in Brazil.

I was salivating just to think about “arroz com frang0″… it’s a very simple dish we make in Brazil, but yet, very deliscious. The dish, in Brazil, is simply cooking white rice with a bunch of chicken pieces (legs, breast, etc) in it.

Sunday came, and I just couldn’t wait to see what she had prepared! As soon as she arrived I went straight to the serving dish… and as soon as I opened it, I was SHOCKED! “Oh no!” I said to myself… “This is not what I was expecting!” True. It really wasn’t. “Arroz con pollo” in Panama is a very ellaborate dish that contains not only rice and chicken, but also vegetables. And not only that, the rice is colored (not white as I was used to) and the chicken is shredded (not in whole pieces). Super tasting and delicious dish, but it was not “my” “arroz com frango”, the one I’ve been dreaming about.

Had I known how Panamanians make their “arroz con pollo”, I wouldn’t be so disappointed. But, the lesson I took was to never assume about others what you do about yourself. This is so true in marketing too… can you imagine an advertising using the Panamanian colored rice with shredded chicken to sell utensiles in Brazil? Me neither.


6 responses to “Rice vs. Rice

  1. I really like the story of this post.

    I came late to the world of branding, marketing and sales. For that reason I have always been a very hungry learner.

    For example I have for almost 10 years now asked thousands of seminar participants from around the US – “what is a brand?” Many different answers have been the result.

    For that reason I tell clients; we may share the same vocabulary but we all have different dictionaries.

    Your story reminded me of how true this is in nearly all forms of human communication.

    Thanks for offering up postings from your unique perspective. It just makes the conversations out here in the blogosphere all the better.

    Keep creating,

  2. Katia, good point. Too many advertisers I have seen on TV throughout Latin America use one commercial for all markets, seeming to think that the viewing consumer won’t pick up on the little things that tell them that the people in the ad are Argentine or Mexican or Venezuelan with messages that would appeal more to those nationalities. I haven’t seen as much of this in Brazil, perhaps because it has such a big, mature, relatively sophisticated marketing industry in the country. But frequently saw it while living in the DR.

    BTW, you made me very hungry talking about both arroz con pollo and arroz com frango. I love the Dominican version of the former (which sounds a bit different from the Panamanian version you described, but also love the Brazilian — in part, exactly because of their differences! I celebrate the differences but common threads among LAC’s many cuisines and cultures. That is why the region me fascina tanto.
    Abraços, Keith

  3. Hahaha, I’m from Brazil too, but my “arroz com galinha” – not frango – is not white! It’s red, because of the tomato sauce we add to it… and it has potatos and carrots. How about that? 🙂

    Really, Brazil is not a country, it’s a continent.

  4. Elaine, very very true that. Brazil is several countries in one, but all of them brasileiro verdadeiro. 🙂 Eh uma coisa que me fascina/encanta de seu pais.
    Abraços, Keith

  5. Keith,

    That’s so true. And I see the same happening here with the Hispanic market, which btw is very complex with the many backgrounds and the acculturated segment vs. 3rd and 4th generations, not acculturated generally. But, that’s what I love about marketing and living here 🙂


  6. Eliane, how about that? Ela e do sul, che! I’ll have to try that “arroz com galinha vermelho” one day… You’re so right… I see a lot of similarities between Brazil and USA in that… there’re many cultures in one… it’s probably a big country thing 😀

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