heir time in the United States has allowed a Brazilian couple to see and experience cultural differences.

And to get used to spicier food.

People wrongly assume that food in Brazil in similar to Mexican fare, said Daniel Soares, who moved to Columbus with his wife, Carol.

Although there are some similarities, Daniel, 30, and Carol, 26, say that the food of Brazil is truly a different animal.

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“We have peppers,” Carol said. “But we don’t have the spiced ones.”

When the couple arrived in the United States for the first time, they were shocked at how spicy American food was. Even a pepperoni pizza they tasted was heavily spiced.

They moved from their Brazilian home near Sao Paulo to the American West, where Carol took English classes at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and Daniel was accepted into the college’s MBA program.

The couple had met in Brazil at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints camp, a retreat intended to keep teenagers away from Brazil’s raucous Carnivale.

“The church sets up regional camps, and they last for five days,” Daniel Soares said. “We go, and we camp.”

Both from Sao Paulo suburbs, the two married nine months after they began dating and celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary in January.

In Brazil, Daniel worked for IBM. Carolina worked for Polo UK, a Brazilian clothing line that in Europe competes with the likes of Ralph Lauren.

With the move to the States, Carol put aside her fashion work to raise the couple’s son, Benjamin, who was born in Provo in 2012.

“(Carol) tries to keep up with what the trends are,” Daniel said. “But right now, we have decided as a family that Benjamin and the other kids that come will be our priority.”

Coming to Columbus

Raising children, in fact, was one of the priorities that led the couple to Columbus.

Daniel, now a master data management leader at Cummins, first heard about Columbus and his current employer through a fellow student in his MBA program at Brigham Young University.

After the family spent a summer in Columbus as part of Daniel’s internship, they decided to return, promising each other they would stay in Columbus for five years.

“We felt like (Columbus) was a really good place for raising a family,” Daniel said. “We liked Columbus and we decided to come back for more.”

The couple will move from their apartment to a house in April. A more permanent residence is a welcome change, Daniel said, as the family has moved about 10 times in the past five years.

“It’s hard because you make friends, and then you move,” Daniel said. “It gets to a point where you feel you don’t belong anywhere.”

The move into a house comes right in time for baby number two, also a boy, who will join big brother Benjamin in late April.

Brazilian connections

In addition to having traditional Brazilian meals — albeit ones that are slightly truncated from the seven-dishes-per-meal lineup that is typical of Brazilian cuisine — the family Skypes with faraway relatives to keep connections with their homeland strong. They sing Brazilian songs and speak Portuguese to Benjamin at home so that the toddler will learn both languages at the same time.

“Our English is not perfect,” Daniel said. “I want him to learn native English. I just don’t want him to be an American with an accent.”

To strengthen their sons’ bonds with Brazil after the second child is born, all four family members will head to Sao Paulo this summer for some much-needed time with their families.

Carol has three siblings and Daniel has five, but their parents come from even larger families. Daniel’s mother was one of 10 siblings and his father was from a family of 15 children.

In their time in America, the Soareses have noticed cultural differences from their native land.

Brazilians, he said, are louder. Their parties go later and the etiquette is less rigid. Brazilians openly hug and kiss each other, even as strangers, compared to Americans who are more reserved in outwardly displaying such affection.

But having lived in the United States for four years, both Carol and Daniel agree that Americans are just as friendly as the people of their home country, if not more so in some regards.

“When we first got to Columbus, people would go beyond our expectations and make sure they were going out of their way to help, even in doing ordinary things, like giving detailed explanations or drawing a map with directions. In Brazil, people are friendly and try to help, but they need some time before they start trusting you,” Daniel said. “Not only in Columbus, but in the Midwest, people are so friendly.”

Soares family

Daniel and Carol Soares met in Brazil at a church camp and married while they were still teens.

Daniel, 30, and his wife Carol, 26, initially moved to Provo, Utah, then relocated to Columbus for his work after son Benjamin, 2, was born.

They are expecting a second son in April.

The couple celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary in January.

Author photo
Jenny Elig is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at jelig@therepublic.com or 812-379-5671.