Thursday, 14 June 2007

The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off

Warning: Those who have visited Brazil will find their mouths watering and feelings of saudade appearing while reading this. Do not be alarmed.

Cupuaçu 31%
Looks like a huge raw potato hanging from a tree. Tastes worse than one. Comes bottom because I associate it with someone being sick after drinking the juice for breakfast.

Abacate 40%
I love avocado but I don’t like the way it is eaten in Brazil. As a fruit (imagine that!) with sugar. Better left on the tree for another week or two until it softens, then put it in a salad or make guacamole. Que delicia!

Jenipapo 42%
Enjoyed by the indigenous people of Bahia. Like a small bees’ nest with yellow fruit inside that is so sour it stings worse than bees. Better for spitting out than swallowing.

Macã 48%
The best apples in Brazil come from Chile, and anyway this is more about exotic tropical fruits that you can’t find at home.

Mamão 53%
I’m still yet to be convinced by papaya, despite people all around the world swearing by it. It reminds me of pumpkin but without the flavour.

Ameixa 55%
Only gets a mention because Blondie couldn’t remember the name in Portuguese, her own language, but could in English. How can you forget the name of a fruit? No better than any other country that has plums.

Cajú 56%
There are thousands, maybe millions of types of cashew fruit, and they come on impressively large trees, but the juice leaves me feeling like drinking water afterwards.

Goiaba 63%
The guava gets bad marks because, even though it tastes nice both as a fruit and a suco, when you eat one straight from a tree and find a little white worm hiding amongst the white flesh it isn’t the most pleasant fruit experience in Brazil. When you bite into one and find half a little white worm wriggling around, well…

Uva 64%
Brazilian grapes are great to eat, but other countries do them much better. If you don’t believe me, just taste the wine.

Laranja 65%
Again, always a favourite drink of the day is freshly squeezed orange juice, but Brazilian oranges are not much better than elsewhere.

Pupunha 68%
Pupunha grows on the trunks of palm trees, in small orangey-red bunches which are very pretty to look at. I can’t remember the taste at all though. Only gets a good mark because I like the name

Grumixama, Jujube, Longan, Lucuma, Mamey, Marmeladinha, Wampi, all 68%
I have no idea about any of these fruits, so as above, I just like the names.

Melao 69%
I like melon, the taste, the texture, the juice - it’s always good to eat first thing on a summer morning straight from the fridge. Loses points for always hiding itself on a plate at the back of the fridge so that I forget about the second half of it until the flesh has turned a battleship grey colour.

Tangerina 70%
I prefer them to oranges because they’re much easier to peel. Bolivian tangerines would get a lot higher marks. They may taste similar, but in Bolivia, they seem to grow on the trees! To enormous sizes too, bigger than the average orange from other countries. Plus you can buy whole groves full of them on every corner for peanuts. The peanuts are gigantic too, as are most other fruits there, and as for the pumpkins – people use them as seats. But size isn’t everything, and Brazil has far more variety of exotic fruits, plus this is the Great Brazilian Fruit-Off.

Figo 71%
I can’t claim to have eaten many figs in Brazil, but the trees are everywhere so I probably should have done. Highly rated though, due to the giant in Praça 15 de Novembro in Florianópolis.

Jabuticaba 73%
A black fruit the size of a cherry that grows in bunches on the trunks of trees, shining impressively in the sun. Also has a stone hiding under the thick skin, but it is so large that it is impossible to swallow. For me at least. All the locals managed it though. I don’t want to think about what happens with all those stones later.

Jaca 74%
Big and dangerous. A conker the size of a rugby ball that is so heavy, it has to grow on the tree trunk, not the branches. Tastes ok but the texture is like melting chewing gum on a hot day. Entertaining to eat, with fruit full of dozens of pieces of sticky flesh surrounding large stones. Good marks mainly for appearance. Everything requires washing after eating.

Jambolão 75%
But not as much as after eating these. A dark purple fruit shaped like a small pear that hangs from trees and will stain cars, especially white ones, parked underneath when they drop from the branches. Very sour but Blondie’s grandmother makes great jam with them. Highly rated mainly due to the deep purple stains they leave behind on fingers, clothes, faces, grandmothers, anything, which makes them great for cheap paintballing.

Cajá 75%
I’ve only had the juice so I can’t say too much about it, but I liked it.

Pitanga 76%
Shaped like a little red Scotch Bonnet Pepper. Quite pleasantly tangy and gets good marks because after eating them in Manaus, we found a sloth in the tree. Not sure if the two are related, but the thought of them makes me smile.

Caqui 77%
The caqui is the fruit that looks like a ripe tomato that had a very thick stork attached to it. They’re very sweet, soft and delicious but my spies tell me they were imported from Japan and are not native to Brazil so it has to lose marks.

Limao 78%
Used to make caipirinha. Enough said?

Morango 79%
Strawberries will always get good marks from me.

Fruta-do-Conde/Nona 80%
There’s something very appealing about the custard apple – it looks like a cuddly green pine-cone and has soft, pale flesh surroundings the stones. I love custard too.

Acerola 82%
Acerola are like small cherries and the juice they provide is the kind of red colour that is normally only found in chemicals. The sweet, gentle taste is something normally only found in Brazilian fruits. Very refreshing.

Banana 86%
Banana tends to get overlooked as a tropical fruit because their peel ensures that they travel so well but, like an elephant, they’re still exotic looking when you think about it. Brazilian ones remind you how you much take them for granted. I could drink a vitamina de banana (without sugar!) first thing every morning for the rest of my life and not get bored of them.

Guarana 87%
A legendary Amazonian fruit, small, red berries that provide ridiculous amounts of caffeine type buzz.

Carambola 88%
The yellow-green starfruit looks impressive, plus I enjoyed eating them straight from the tree in a tiny Maranhão town while waiting for a bus. Happy memories.

Cabeludinha 89%
Little hairy yellow-orange fruit which grows in many places around Brazil, plus I enjoyed eating them straight from the tree by the side of the lagão in Floripa one sunny day after… oh never mind.

Melancia 92%
The classic beach fruit. Life is good sitting on a Brazilian beach with a big smile of red watermelon in your hands, firing the pips at people around you. Good to eat when cut in half and filled with vodka too.

Cacao 93%
It makes chocolate.

Açaí 95%
The high-calorie dark sorbet filled with granola, banana and honey that surfers eat is one of my favourite things in Brazil. Nobody knows what it looks like as a fruit as the fruit comes already frozen from Belém. I know though. In Amazonas, a little boy climbed up a huge palm tree to bring us down a branch with lots of little hard green balls attached to it. Then his mother and auntie showed us how they processed it and told us how the people from the area laugh at those in the south for using it as a sweet thing. It’s better as a sauce for meat and fish apparently. A lovely, unique day and I’m surprised it isn’t even higher up.

Manga 96%
The mangoes that we have at home (from the Caribbean usually I think) tend to be fibrous, not very juicy and not very soft. Brazilian ones are fresh, juicy and melt in your mouth like a dream.

Maracujá 98%
Passion Fruit Caipirinha. My favourite version. Batida de Maracujá. My favourite version. Please, leave the seeds in though. I love to chew them. Mousse de Maracujá, or maracujá eaten like a boiled egg. Heaven.

Coconut 99%
Like the banana, the coconut is taken for granted a little. Just imagine – sitting on a beach in Brazil with the Atlantic washing the white sand, sheltered from the sun by the palm leaves, using a straw to sip the milk from a freshly cut, freshly cut open green coconut and wondering how it keeps so cool. Ohhh, you cannot beat living like that. Plus! Batida de coco, moqueca, and any other number of fantastic Brazilian foods.

But ladies and gentlemen, the winner of The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off already has his crown, because:

Abacaxí 100%
I never expected this. Pineapples are delicious in general and very versatile, good to make cocktails, on pizzas, cakes, or just to eat. But Brazilian pineapples are like nowhere else I’ve ever been. On the market, you can smell them for miles. Slice one and put it in the fridge, but in a bowl not on a plate. So much juice will come out that you can have a glass of the sweetest, freshest juice without even squeezing it. The middle is softer than the flesh of inferior models. Only the crown and the skin are inedible, and to watch a seller quickly carve a pineapple into a work of art on a Brazilian beach is fantastic entertainment. Plus one seller made me laugh on Ipanema by screaming ‘Abacaxí!’ right in the faces of everybody, making us all jump. You can also remove the crown, scoop out the middle, attack the flesh a little, fill the hole with cachaça and ice and have the simplest, most exotic looking cocktail on the planet.

A worthy champion.

There are incredible amounts of fruit in Brazil. If you want to check out a few more that I haven’t run into yet, I suggest this place.


dimmi said...

Hey, this is cool, Brazilian fruit charts! you should do this more often! like Brazilian veggie charts, and Brazilian animals charts, insects charts, drinks charts... just an idea ;)
it beats football charts!

edward said...

I'm trying to get in touch with a english teacher/speaker in Sao Luis. Do you know anyone I might be able to contact. I am trying to organize a trip there. Thanks, Ed

jessica said...

Great post.
I do love the fruits in Brazil.
One of my favorites is the coconut.

Vinicius said...

well, I want to say congratulations for you guys , because I'm Brazilia and its so hard to see something online about my country in english , besides Sex ,Drink,Drugs and Violence , Congratulations fellas ! hope y'all keep it up , because Brasil in an amazing country ! I love it

Norma said...

Interesting to know.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Manga/Mangoes there are actually hundreds of species and to just say that Brasil has the best is ok if that's what you want but you may have tried one type only. In the mainland USA most Mangoes come from Central and South America. Most fruits in general are shipped to the US based on their ability to ship well without damage and long shelf life and are picked green so it is difficult to compare any tropical fruit you buy in the mainland USA to something you would get in Brasil or Hawaii, where I live. We have some of those stringy mangoes here in Hawaii but they are called common mangoes and grow wild and we do not usually sell them in the stores. I have been to Brasil many times and love to try as much fruit as I can. Make sure you are with a local when doing so, you will then get the best experience. Obrigado and Ciao, Scott

Izaylla & Junior Silva said...

hi were can i find jenipapo

Izaylla & Junior Silva said...

in massachusetts