Food tasting with the English Club

Fight Club Font

The first rule of English Club is you do not talk about English Club. The second rule of… Hang on – I’m thinking of something else. It’s actually totally fine to talk about English Club – it is comprised of 4 kids (aged 6-10) who live in Rio and like to get together from time to time to hang out and work on their English skills.

I met Alice, Lena, Nayana and Raoul last month when they invited me to join them for an afternoon of food tasting and discussion.

Before I arrived the kids had already been talking about their favourite foods and thinking of different ways to describe them. For me this is one of the great challenges of food writing – how do you get beyond “it’s delicious” or “it tastes bad” to find a more meaningful way to describe food and drink?

We all love to laugh at experts describing wine with ridiculously floral language (“I’m getting pencil shavings and a hint of cat pee”) but I started to sympathise the first time I tried to describe the flavour of Cupuaçú. One of our Eat Rio Food Tour guests once described this weird-tasting fruit as “like eating all the Skittles at once” which I thought was a pretty good effort!

Before we actually tasted anything, I happened to mention a tasting tip I was given by my Venezuelan friend, María Luisa Ríos Lares. María is the brains behind Mil Sabores (an essential site for anyone heading to Caracas). She is also a great expert on the delicious subject of chocolate. She told me that the first thing she eats every day is some chocolate and she keeps her eyes closed while she tastes it. The kids and I found this a really useful tip to help us concentrate as we tasted their chosen foods.


[TL: Closing your eyes can help you concentrate of the flavours and textures happening in your mouth]


Anyway, that’s enough waffle from me! What follows is the work of Alice, Lena and Nayana [text in square brackets is from me]. And before you worry, the parents of the kids have given their permission for me to include names and photos. Enjoy!


[TL: Paçoca (sounds like ‘pass-OCK-a’) comes in these matchbox-sized blocks]

Paçoca is a delicate peanut butter bar. It is quite crumbly and beige with brown bits that are pieces of nuts. It feels like it explodes and turns sticky in your mouth. It is very sweet and a tiny bit salty and soft. The smell is quite strong and peanutty. It’s a nice treat.

[TL: Seeing as we’re on the subject of food writing I had to share this guava-related gem from Jane Grigson: “When I cook guavas, they fill the kitchen with their smell. It goes through the door, across the hall, up the stairs and right into my husband’s study. The first time, he had to leave his work and come down to see what magic was going on.”]

Sometimes goiabada comes in a packet and sometimes in a wooden box. The box we had was like you were not meant to open it! (it was very hard to open!!). It’s very sticky. It looks like a wine-colour plastic brick. The smell is banana and fruity. It is made of guava. It is very sweet. It is like jelly, jam. Sometimes people eat Romeo and Julieta which is goiabada with queijo minas (Brazilian cheese), which is an ice cream flavour.

“…like a wine-colour plastic brick”


“It’s smooth, it’s bitter and sweet”

It’s sticky. It’s very elastic. It’s smooth, it’s bitter and sweet. Bananada is only made of banana. It looks like it has chocolate in it. [A note from one of the mothers: At this point the kids starting making figurines with this putty like sweet…]

[TL: Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?!]

[TL: A big thanks to Alice, Lena and Nayana for their fantastic writing and also to Raoul whose leg I think you can just make out on the right side of this final picture!]

The whole team working hard!

4 replies
  1. Bindu
    Bindu says:

    Wow – these kids are geniuses!!! (Maybe I’m one of their mothers, or just an extremely impressed fan of Eat Rio…. 😉

  2. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    I bet Tom was inspired by the kids and decided to describe the plants on his roof garden to the children: hence that last pic featuring a glimpse of the little boy running away. 🙂

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      As the youngest of the group his resistance to my ‘interesting’ discussion points was the weakest. As he ran off he shouted “Não aguento mais!!!!” – I’m not sure exactly what that means but I suspect it’s something like “I must go now as I have some important business to attend to but please do come again – it was a real pleasure and I wish I could stay longer”. Something like that…


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