The chirpy TV chef shocked his fans in Brazil with a forthright opinion on the local confectionery, but over-emotional attachments to odd national dishes are universal
Love him or hate him, there’s no escaping the fact that Jamie Oliver is a global success, and no less so in Brazil, where you only have to switch on the TV or stroll past a bookshop to see the multimillionaire chef’s face grinning out. He was all up in my Instagram feed, too, last month in Rio de Janeiro. Jamie watching the sunset over Copacabana beach, Jamie hugging local chefs, Jamie at the Maracanã; the sort of social media group hug that Brazilians love to “like”.
But things turned ugly when, appearing on local TV show Saia Justa, he was asked to sample a tray of local foods, and made the PR gaffe of giving an honest reply. Frozen açaí-berry and sugar-cane juice were “delicious”, while the popular confectionery brigadeiro, quindim and beijinho emotive and historic treasures, the very essence of Brazilian childhood nostalgia he dismissed as “all a load of old shit, fuckin’ ‘orrible”. Viewers watched in abject horror. It was car-crash telly, the second blow to national pride in less than a fortnight.