Paper Napkins

One factor of Brazilian culture I’ve always found puzzling is the napkin-dispenser paper napkin phenomenon. If you go to a café or a bar or a pizzaeria, you won’t recognize what you pull out of the dispenser. The napkins are thin pieces of waxy paper with little to no absorbency or wiping attributes at all. I don’t know if it is for economic reasons that version of the paper napkin is used, or if I just don’t know how to use it properly.

Today I saw the most bizarre version of a paper napkin. We were driving from Angra dos Reis to Rio de Janeiro and stopped for gas and a snack. Here, the paper napkins weren’t thin filmy remnants, but the equivalent of squares of copier paper. These had even less use for wiping my daughter’s face. I can’t imagine these were inexpensive to produce, as copier paper is rather pricey here. Luckily, I stocked up on hand wipes in the U.S. and had stuffed all my bags and purses with a supply.  It is curious that no one has yet to complain… but me of course.

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3 Responses to Paper Napkins

  1. Jim says:

    The thin waxy versions are used by many for rolling papers. They bear little resemblance to an actual napkin!

  2. Nicole says:

    According to
    “One thing you will likely notice as a tourist at a Brazilian restaurant is the use of wax paper napkins.  This is also common in Argentina and they don’t work well there either.  At least for Brazil, here are the reasons behind this:
    1) It’s hot and humid so regular napkins absorb moisture over time and get soggy
2) Regular napkins are more expensive and generally it’s the more expensive places that use them
3) Brazilians don’t complain enough to actually change things (‘se deus quiser’ attitude)”

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