Brazil and Its Beautiful Fruits
When Brazil comes to mind, you may think of its carnival—one of the most famous in the world—plus samba music, and lovely beaches and rainforests. Another known feature is the 98-foot high Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
As for Brazilian food, a popular dish is feijoada, a bean stew, usually consisting of slow-cooked black beans with pork or beef. If you are traveling to Brazil, though, don't miss the colorful, diverse fruits the country has to offer, frequently available at local markets.
One of the most unusual fruits that grow in Brazil is the jabuticaba (zha-bu-chee-KAH-bah). This dark purple fruit looks like a perfectly round grape, but rather than eating the thick skin, you'll pierce it with your teeth, pushing the inside of the fruit into your mouth and spitting out the small seed.
This is a popular, sometimes expensive fruit found in small quantities at local grocery stores or in boxes at fruit/vegetable markets. The flavor is tart and sweet at the same time, a bit like grape juice.
Jabuticaba grows right on the trunk of the tree, beginning as small green balls but turning dark purple as they ripen. The name of the fruit is derived from two words in the language of the native Tupi people that roughly means "place where tortoises come from."
Atemoia (ah-teh-MOY-ah) is a delicious fruit available in some outdoor markets in Brazil, often for a higher price than other typical fruits.
A cross between a sugar apple and cherimoya, this large green fruit should be eaten when it gives slightly. Break it open and eat the white inside—its texture is soft and a bit grainy, with the flavor a lovely mix of sweet and sour. Each section of the white fruit has large black seeds that you’ll spit out.
Açaí (ah-sigh-EE) is a fruit from the Brazilian Amazon which has become famous internationally for its antioxidant properties. While it can be found fresh in some parts of Brazil, in most places the frozen pulp is eaten. Many locals in Brazil will order a bowl of cold açaí pulp, sometimes with bananas and granola.
Passionfruit, called maracujá (mah-rah-ku-ZHAH) in Portuguese, has two varieties: sweet (doce) and sour (azedo). In most cases, you'll want to go with the sweet ones. Enjoying them is simple; just cut the fruit in half to scoop out the edible juice and seeds.
Mousse de maracujá (Moo-see dzee mah-rah-ku-ZHA) is a popular dessert in Brazil, and for very good reason. This light mousse is typically made with sweet condensed milk and passionfruit juice, then topped with a thin layer of passionfruit with seeds. It's a rich, highly flavorful fruit dessert that you can enjoy in many restaurants, cafes, and buffets.
Guava, or goiaba (goy-AH-bah), is one of the most common fruits in Brazil, found year-round in outdoor markets, grocery stores, and even on street corners. Two main varieties exist—goiaba branca (white) and goiaba vermelha (red).
You can slice it into rounds or eat it like an apple by biting into the rind and fruit. Another way is to cut it in half and scoop the red or white portions out of the rind, savoring the edible seeds.
Guava is also made into a tasty paste called goiabada—guava, sugar, and water cooked to a consistency similar to a thick fruit leather, but softer. Since it's inexpensive and keeps for a long time, it makes a good gift to bring back to a friend. It's often served as a dessert with a plain white cheese, especially queijo Minas; this combination is called Romeo e Julieta because supposedly the two make the perfect pair, like Romeo and Juliet.
The Best Bananas
Bananas in Brazil are special. The many inexpensive varieties are easy to find and delicious, especially banana-maçã, or apple–banana.
Banana-maçã is a small fruit eaten when the skin is completely yellow and starting to turn brown in spots. It should be soft; if the banana is at all hard, it will leave a strange texture on your lips and tongue. Brazilians call bananas that are not ready "verde (green)." The flavor is sweet and somewhat reminiscent of an apple. They are purchased in clusters and are slightly more expensive than other varieties of bananas.