Manguinhas – another reason to visit your local feira



Here’s a little factiod for you: while many fruits have evolved bright colours to attract birds (birds have excellent colour vision), mangoes are generally a dull greenish-red colour because they have evolved to be eaten (and therefore distributed) by fruit bats and other animals that rely more on smell than sight to find food. See? 3 years studying zoology wan’t a complete waste was it? According to my old ecology lecturer, we silly humans have spent the last 100+ years attempting to breed bright, colourful mangoes which appeal to the average human shopper.

There are mango trees (mangueiras) all over Rio. In fact here’s the view out of my window right now:

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Mixing Mangoes with Milk

After hosting Rachel’s guest post just a few days ago, the karmic wheel of blog has come full circle and today I guest posted at Street Smart Brazil! I have to say I’m pretty excited – as far as I can recall it’s my first ever guest post! I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with SSB (like all best-buds, we’re on acronymic terms now), but if not, I’d love it if you’d pop over and say hello, check out my humble offering (which will explain the image below). I think it represents an absolutely fascinating insight into one small part of Brazilian history. Not a particularly nice part of Brazilian history to be fair, but interesting how something from so many years ago still survives today. Intrigued? I hope so!

The link to follow is here:

Mango and Milk is poisonous

Poisonous Mango?

The best way to drink a cacau caipirinha.

A couple of days ago I mentioned the fish that we ate on a remote beach in Bahia in the northeast of Brazil. When you’ve walked a couple of hours to get to a beach, you realise that you are basically a captive audience so if there’s only one thing on the lunch menu then you’d better hope you like it. As I said in the post, luckily for us it turned out to be one of the most delicious fish I’ve ever eaten.

On that same day, as we were waiting for the fish, a different guy came past and asked if we’d like a caipirinha. Regular readers will know I’m rather fond of Brazil’s classic cocktail and so won’t be surprised to hear that I immediately asked what fruits they have (caipirinhas can be made with all manner of fruit, not just lime). The first fruit the guy mentioned was Cacau and I stopped him right there. Cacau is the fruit whose seeds are used to make chocolate, but those seeds are surrounded by a sweet, refreshing pulp that tastes nothing like cocoa.

When the guy disappeared off to make the drinks, I expected him to return with a drink served in a plastic cup. As discussed before, this does not automatically mean it will be a bad drink and who could expect them to have anything else in such a remote location? But what he actually came back with was this:


cacau caipirinha

Caipirinha de Cacau!


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The Fruit Evangelist

Over the last few years I have become aware of a weird new use of an existing word: Evangelist. In Brazil of all countries it would be hard to avoid the traditional, religious sense of the word. But have you come across Technology evangelists? There are Microsoft Evangelists, Photoshop Evangelists, you name it. As far as I can tell, they are employees who spend time making training videos, running forums and generally singing the praises (hence the name presumably) of their chosen product/manufacturer.

Personally I wouldn’t much like to get stuck in a lift with any type of evangelist, though (as we’re about to see), perhaps I should remember what they say about throwing stones in glass houses, because not so long ago I found myself doing some evangelising of my own.

strawberries morangos

Luscious, juicy, Brazilian morangos (strawberries).


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More Hortifruti Word-Play

Do you remember all those great adverts that Hortifruti were running a while back? They put fruit and vegetables into famous film posters using excellent word play skills. Edward Scissor Hands (Edward Mãos de Tesoura) became Edward Mãos de Cenoura, Moulin Rouge became Melão Rouge (melon) and Shrek became ChuChuRek (chuchu) – take a look at my post about it to see the brilliant film-poster adverts.

Regular readers will know I have a weakness for the art-form (yes, art-form) of the pun, but whoever worked on that advertising campaign was a genius. And isn’t it nice when smart adverts are created for a product you really like? Hortifruti is easily my favourite food store in Rio – if you’re looking for fresh fruit and vegetables and a great selection of other really high quality ingredients, Hortifruti (OR-tchee FROO-tchee) is the place to go.

After their last campaign (fruit/veg transformed into super-heroes) things have been quiet for a while. And then look what I saw this morning!


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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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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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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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Lemon-Lime confusion in Brazil

Back in my England days there was one thing you could almost always rely on: somewhere in my fridge you would find half a lemon. Always half a lemon. When you have a whole lemon, there are all kinds of uses (for half of it) – squeeze it over some fish, slice it for drinks, the list goes on… But what about the other half?  That would sit in my fridge for days, slowly shrinking and shrivelling and becoming increasingly useless.

Here in Brazil things are different – we have limes! Aren’t limes great? Not only do they have an amazingly fragrant, tangy, zingy flavour, but they are just the right size! You won’t find half a lime in my Brazilian fridge.

But what about lemons? Here in Brazil (in Rio at least) they seem to be very rare. After learning that the Portuguese for lime is limão, I wondered what the word for lemon was. The answer? Limão. Huh? “You use the same word for both lemons and limes?” I asked incredulously. It was like the moment I found out that Portuguese (and Spanish) uses the same word for fingers and toes! (Dedos).

Well, that is the simple answer anyway. In fact there is a way to distinguish between your limões (and your dedos). You get specific.


Apparently these limes are from Tahiti! Well, I guess the variety is at least. These particularly large and firm limes are very handy if you want to make yourself a decent-sized caipirinha - the extra juice will ensure that you can still walk after you've polished it off.

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Delicious Rio Roadkill

One of the pleasures of living in a tropical climate is that all kinds of exotic fruit are available year round. Of course “exotic” is subjective term – for me, exotic fruits include mango, guava and papaya (in Portuguese, manga, goiaba and mamão respectively). I guess the average Brazilian would be more impressed with raspberries, rhubarb and blueberries.

Here in Rio, there are mango trees everywhere. They are huge and easily recognisable because of their distinctive finger-like leaves and the fact that they are often heavily laden with fruit.

Look out below! Having one of these land on your head would be unpleasant.


As I said, you find them everywhere. I snapped this one in a hospital car park:

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