In Spanish, borracha means drunk. In both Spanish and Portuguese (much more sensibly organized languages than English), stores are named according to their function: livros—books—are sold in a liveria, pao—bread—in a paderia, and you eat—comer—in a comedor. Thus, it would seem that you go to a borracharia to… be drunk.
In Portuguese, unfortunately, borracha means rubber. A borracharia is where you go to buy rubber.
I pass lots of borracharias on Avenida Caxangá, on the ride between a Cidade Universitária and Boa Viagem, and though the ride seems to be getting longer and longer—I swear, traffic is increasing before my very eyes—all the borracharias, full of men and stomachs hanging about under late afternoon light, continue to amuse me.
I also pass lots of soverterias, which is where they sell sorvete—ice cream. One in particular—John’s Soverteria—is tempting enough that I’ve thought about getting off, buying ice cream, and then paying another two reais to get back on the next bus that comes ‘round the route.
And then, Maira—the brilliant, car-owning roommate—read my mind (or the half-bar of chocolate I had just polished off), asked if I had yet had yet tried this very ice cream shop, and arrived home the following evening with a wide Styrofoam bowl filled with a dozen different scoops: macaxeira, coconut, acai (happiness!), guarana, acerola, tamarindo, and…milho—corn. Corn ice cream tastes just like corn, which seems to miss the point entirely.
(Though, to be fair, Brazilian sweets are actually marvelous, which should come as no surprise in a country that has enough extra sugar cane lying around to fuel cars. Favorites include paçoquita, which is essentially peanut butter packaged up in a neat and edible cube—brilliant!—and cocada, which sort of like burnt coconut brittle except that it’s not brittle but lick-your-fingers gooey, a lovely side effect of all the leche condensada it contains.)