“We’ve arranged a very special tour for you,” the guide announced. “the Maracanã Stadium.” I groaned inwardly. It was three weeks before the start of the World Cup in Rio. A football related ‘something’ was inevitable, but a whole morning! We piled onto sleek coaches and set off across Rio. It was our first day and so first glimpse of the diverse city. Favalas like coloured matchboxes tossed in a pile, huge engineering structures with rather more than three weeks until completion. Stuccoed colonial houses, dripping with architectural detail and shiny shopping centres filled with goods many of the population couldn’t afford.
We gathered in the entrance lobby and were split into smaller groups. It soon became clear that our visit was more than just a look at turf. A quick glance at Pelle’s bronze preserved foot prints and we were off to the changing rooms. The men in the group were as excited and pushy as shoppers at the first day of Harrod’s sale. Each desperate to get a selfie with their Hero’s shirt. Whilst I wandered around asking “Who does he play for?” (other than Brazil, obviously). I have to admit I was getting into the spirit and had to take a picture of the communal bath. Who knew there was an astro turf practice room, no windows of course and that the press area could be so small?
Then, with stringent warnings about keeping off the turf, we were led through an archway high above the pitch. Stretched steeply below us and in every direction, like blue and yellow post-its were the rows of seats. One lone groundsman carefully mowing stripes into the pitch far below. There was a moment of awe inspired hush, then we slowly made our way down the steps to the edge of the grass and more scrabbling for seats in the ‘dugout’ and selfies. A group photo and it was all over. Momentarily I lost Mr Glam before spotting him eyeing up a strange selection of cakes. As none of them were familiar to us, he randomly picked a small white ball covered in coconut in a tiny cup cake paper. Biting into the sweet, almost custard like sphere he declared it the highlight of the morning so far and spent the rest of the trip trying to find another.
- 1 can 379g condensed milk
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 1 pinch sea salt flakes
- 50 g dessicated coconut
- Put the condensed milk and butter into a sauce pan over a moderate heat, stir constantly until the mixture starts to come away from the sides
- Pour into a shallow dish lined with parchment paper and allow to cool slightly
- Pour the desiccated coconut into a flat dish. Oil your hands, take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Roll in the coconut and place on parchment paper or into a mini cupcake paper
- For a variation you can roll the balls in cocoa or chocolate
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