By Ricky Skelton
June 19, 2007
Here is the second and final part of Ricky’s article about fruit found in Brazil. To read the first part click the relevant link at the end of the article.
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 Praa 15 de Novembro in Florianópolis.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve only had the juice so I can’t say too much about it, but I liked it.
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.
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.
Used to make caipirinha. Enough said?
Strawberries will always get good marks from me.
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 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 tend to get overlooked as tropical fruits 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.
A legendary Amazonian fruit, small, red berries that provide ridiculous amounts of caffeine type buzz.
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.
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.
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.
It makes chocolate.
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 it comes already frozen from Belm. 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.
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.
Passion Fruit Caipirinha. My favourite version. Batida de Maracuj. My favourite version. Please, leave the seeds in though. I love to chew them. Mousse de Maracuj, or maracuj eaten like a boiled egg. Heaven.
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:
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 ‘Abacax!’ 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 cachaa 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.
You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/
Previous articles by Ricky:
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?“