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Best of times, worst of times: Maria Vieira

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of Maria from the East London Liquor Company

Fantasy job
I’m not sure what it is, but I can tell you what it involves. I was born in Brazil and raised in Italy and love to travel. Growing up with two cultures means I really like experiencing new places and I really like food, so my fantasy job would be one that involved me travelling around the world and getting to eat the local cuisine. I have done some of this but would love to do more.

Worst job
I worked for a telemarketing company for about four months. The job was to cold call people and try to sell extra telecommunications services. I was calling dozens of people a day, reading through the same script, answering the same questions, saying the same thing, it was so mechanical. It was soul destroying. I didn’t last long.

Best recent film
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It is a film about a woman who rents three billboards outside a small town calling attention to the lack of progress in the investigation into the killing of her daughter. The film focuses on the local police, the woman, and her friends, all of whom are impacted by her act. It is an intense film with real emotional depth. The characters felt real.

Worst recent film
Not sure I can reduce that to one; pretty much all the current group of superhero films. The thing is I really liked the comics as a child so seeing them come to life should have been great, but the comics were really engaging because there were real characters you could connect to. But apart from one or two notable exceptions, the films are all fight scenes, special effects and shallow characters. They have been a real disappointment.

Favourite holiday destination
There are two really, even though I was raised in Italy I love going back to Brazil—travelling around the country, visiting the different areas. It is such a vast country and so varied. The other place is Sardinia. I used to work in a small village in Sardinia and part of my heart is still there. It is so beautiful, and it always feels wonderful when I step on to the island.

Favourite childhood dish
That was lasagne. I have lovely childhood memories of us all sitting to eat lasagne on Sundays. I probably love the memory as much as the food.

Signature dish
Homemade pasta served with a sauce made using cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and courgettes. It sounds simple, but if you are using really great ingredients which have a depth of flavour, this is a really wonderful dish.

Worst recent meal
I am afraid that was at home. I really love traditional Brazilian rice, which is quite dry. I taught my boyfriend to cook it. He can do it well but the last time he made it, it was awful—it was overcooked, soggy, and there was not enough salt. There was also meat and vegetables which were ok, but that couldn’t rescue the rice, which is the main part meal. The problem was that I had got home very late and was really hungry, so had to eat it. That probably made it worse in my mind.

Worst school subject
I’m not sure you have it in England, but I think the closest translation is civic studies. You learn about the constitution, the political instructions, and there are also aspects of being a good citizen. It was just very boring.

Good day at work
I love it when we have a tasting and there are a lot of people in the shop. You are talking to customers and sometimes trying new things yourself.

Bad day at work
When it snows, and the temperature is below zero. It is freezing here—you try with heaters, but the wind comes in and you can’t get warm. Brazil and Italy do not prepare you for this.

Favourite drink
I really like a beer on a warm afternoon or evening. No particular brand, but I prefer lager to bitter.

Least favourite drink
Fernet, which is an Italian amaro, a bitter-sweet liqueur. For some reason bartenders outside Italy especially love to drink it, so it is often the staff drink before a shift starts.

Inspirational figure
Anthony Bourdain. I was so sad when I heard he had died. I have a couple of his cookbooks at home and I really like the way he presents the dishes. I loved his programmes—they were so much more than travel and food. He used food as a way to really connect with people and really get into the local culture. He was the best at that.

Favourite album
Baduizm by Erykah Badu. I have known her music since I was a child. She has a wonderful, soulful voice which has many layers, so she gets real character in her singing. She is also quite innovative, and each album has a different twist. This one has a jazz inspiration but with a rhythm and blues beat underneath.

Best gig
Erykah Badu. I was travelling in America and I deliberately went to Dallas where she is from because she was playing some gigs there. I saw her in a place she played before she was famous. It had been closed and she was playing at the re-opening, which she was delighted about. It was a wonderful atmosphere and a great night.

Favourite thing about London
The variety of food and drinks you can get here. Brazilian, Korean, Vietnamese—whatever you want, you can find it here. This is such a multicultural city.

Worst thing about London
The weather. It is the middle of June and I am wearing a sweater, that is just wrong.

Hangover cure
Haven’t found it yet. Unfortunately.