Monthly Archive: June 2012

Jun 29

The Ultimate Caipirinha

In today’s post I am going to tell you about what I think is the best caipirinha there is. I never thought I’d find a fruit that suited this cocktail better than the good old classic limão (lime), but I’m confident that when you try one of these you will agree. The fruit in question isn’t easy to find, but if you can track it down, you will have something pretty special on your hands. Let’s take a look at it shall we?

 

Limão cravo, rangpur lime, canton lemon, hime

Limão Cravo – unassuming looking little fellows aren’t they? This fruit goes by many names (even in Brazil!): Limão Galego, Limão Lava-tacho, Limão Bode, Limão Rosa, Limão Capeta. Outside Brazil the list grows longer still: Rangpur lime, Canton Lemon, Hime Lemon.

 

A confusing list of names for a citrus fruit? After recent posts, I don’t expect any of you to be surprised by that! This fruit was mentioned in the comments of a few recent posts and I had been keeping a look-out for them for a while. You don’t find them in every supermarket, but I managed to track them down a few days ago in the organic section of Zona Sul. As I appear to be going through a bit of a mystery-fruit obsession a the moment, you won’t be surprised to hear that I hurried home to take a better look at these strange things.

 

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Jun 27

What to do with a Cupuaçu

One of the food things I found most exciting when I got to Brazil was the huge variety of fruits available, most of which I had never heard of. Graviola, Caja, Umbu, Jabuticaba, Taperebá, Bacurí are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. No need to mention that I didn’t recognise half the names of the fruit I did know, like morango, maçá, abacaxí (strawberry, apple and pineapple respectively).

Regardless of my poor Portuguese, I was at the juice bars dotted all over town, I was presented with a huge list of bewildering fruit to choose from and did my best to try them all. Some are good, some are just OK. Possibly the most astonishing in terms of all-out flavour madness has the be Cupuaçu (sounds like coopwa-SOO):

Cupuaçu fruit

The Cupuaçu fruit has a thick, hard shell, covered with a light brown dusty powder.

 

Hmmm, it doesn’t look very fruity does it? Looks more like a yam or some other root vegetable. Even at this stage it has a strong fragrance, but how do you get in through that hard shell?

 

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Jun 26

Giant, South American pine nuts

Who knows what these are? Easy right? They’re pine nuts …in a weirdly small bowl.

Pine nuts in a small bowl?

 

Aha! But look again!

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Jun 25

Fruit pulp refreshment

If I had to choose between very hot weather and very cold weather, I would choose the heat. Just as well really, because it can get very hot here in summer and the winters are mild. I’m no masochist, I don’t enjoy being too hot, but sometimes it’s worth it for the pleasure of cooling down – think beach/waterfall or less glamorous options air conditioning/cold shower.

And the heat has clearly shaped the drinks culture here – red wine is commonly served chilled (even in an ice bucket sometimes!) and of course beer must extremely cold. Another chilly drink that I enjoy making home starts out looking like this:

Frozen cacau fruit pulp

A frozen block of fruit pulp from the Cacau fruit.

 

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Jun 22

Rio+20: Indigenous Brazilians come to town.

You know how it is – you’re waiting on the platform for your morning train, when half a dozen indigenous people in full tribal dress wander past. I am talking about brightly coloured feather headdresses, body paint, spears, bows and arrows.

Índios, checking out the jewellery shop in the station.

 

As the train pulled in, it looked like around 30% of the passengers were indigenous, mostly dressed up and looking pretty amazing. I should point out that this is not the normal way of things – indigenous people (AKA Índios) make up just 0.4% of the Brazilian population. Clearly something was going on.

 

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Jun 19

Fruit confusion

First we had questions over the various types of banana available in Brazil. Then more recently there was a great lemon-lime confusion. Today we need to talk about the fruit that has no rhyme: the orange. A few days ago I found myself browsing around ‘Zona Sul’, a fairly fancy supermarket that stocks a good variety of fruit and vegetables. I decided that I needed to try one of these Limas da Persia that apparently go so well in a caipirinha. As I found this mystery ‘lemon’, my eyes wandered to the right:

On the left you can see Lima da Persia. But what is this to the right? Laranja Pera?! A ‘Pear Orange’?!

 

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Jun 17

Eu quero tchu…

Every so often a song comes along that is so annoying, you just have to do something to get it out of your system. During the year of my Latin American travels the song was the Black Eyed Peas’ I’ve got a feeling. It was everywhere – in clubs, bars, bus stations, you name it – there was no escape. Very quickly it would take just the opening notes of  send everyone groaning in pain. The problem wasn’t just that it was a fairly crappy song. The problem was that like it or not, you would find yourself humming it constantly. And if you weren’t humming it, someone else nearby would be humming it and guess what – 30 seconds later you would be humming it again.

Well right now in Brazil we are suffering another of these torture songs. If you’ve been subjected to it already then all I need to say is “Eu quero tchu…“. You will roll your eyes and reply: “Eu quero tcha” and then I will go “Eu quero tchu tcha tcha tchu tcha…”. Like all the best/worst of these songs, it comes with a dance and in this case it even features a celebrity footballer.

This is Neymar – a hugely skillful footballer who plays for Santos and Brazil. Apparently his goal celebration inspired João Lucas and Marcelo to score their hit Tchu Tcha Tcha.

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Jun 16

Rio rocks

You know how it is – you turn a corner, start crossing the road and glance to your right:

Hmmm, ugly buildings, tree covered hills - nothing unusual here.

 

You glance to the left:

 

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Jun 15

Going over to the sweet side

There may be hope for me yet people! There is a fairly decent Kilo restaurant near work which has become my regular lunchtime haunt (largely because of the excellent chilli oil they serve alongside the arroz e feijão). Recently I have noticed that after a particularly spicy lunch, I find myself craving chocolate. And as I was queueing to pay yesterday, I saw this:

Mmmm, sparkly wrapping = good. Pão de Mel (honey bread) = yum. Artesanal = I doubt it, but still, a good aspiration. Com recheio de Brigadeiro (with Brigadeiro filling) = Nooooo!

 

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Jun 11

Stripes in the sky

When I first came to Brazil it was by crossing over the border with Colombia in the Northwest (deep in the Amazon). A friend and I spent a few days exploring the river and the jungle – of course, in such a short time we could only scratch the surface, but nevertheless we saw all kinds of amazing sights.

The Amazon.

 

We spent one memorable day with a guide in a small canoe, paddling upstream and then stopping off to trek through the forest, seeing some very cool animals and meeting some indigenous people who lived along the river.

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