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):
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?
Once you get inside the shell, you see a pale yellow, slightly lumpy pod-like thing. By now the cupuaçu smell is pretty strong.
The next step is to get involved and pull this thing apart with your hands. The soft, slightly damp mass breaks apart quite easily and as you pull it apart you feel that there are grape-sized seeds amongst the pulp.
The easiest way to get the pulp away from the seeds is with a pair of scissors. Snipping around each seed, you eventually end up with a big pile of gooey yellow pulp on one side and some sad looking seeds on the other.
There are probably all kinds of things you can make with cupuaçu – certainly sweets and desserts are popular, but my favourite has to be (suprise surprise!) the juice option! Simply put the pulp in a blender with a few spoonfuls of sugar and enough water to give the consistency you want and then blend away!
OK, so sometimes it’s hard to make blended up fruit pulp look good! But once you’ve got it to the right consistency and sweetness, you have a really delicious, interesting, fruity drink.
So you’ve seen what cupuaçu is and how to make it into a tasty drink. But what does it actually taste like?
Well, it’s not easy to describe because it doesn’t taste much like anything else I can think of. What I can say is that it has quite a strong, almost artificial flavour. A little like sherbet. And you know that slightly resinous taste you get from some mangoes? There is something of that to it as well.
One thing I do know is that I love it! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think everyone who gets the chance should try it to find out. I’m pretty confident that you won’t have tried anything quite like it.