Friday, January 1, 2010
Brazil I - açaí
For the past few days I have been spending the holidays in beautiful (and sunny and warm, hahaha) Rio de Janeiro. That's right, home of samba, Copacabana beach, and the future site of the 2016 Olympics . I'll admit, I was initially concerned about what I would be able to eat in the land of steakhouses and fried shrimp on the beach. I wanted to have fun, obviously, so I mentally prepared myself to be flexible, and to accept the fact that I was not going to be 100% raw vegan on my vacation. While this has certainly been the case, I have also found that Rio has an abundance of delicious, healthy, and fresh food that will satisfy anyone who is lucky enough to spend time in this magical city.
One of my favorite Brazilian treats is açaí. Açaí is a small, round, black-purple fruit that grows on a palm tree of the same name. This superfood has a rich history in South America, especially Brazil. In the traditional Caboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil, açaí palm is described as the most important plant species because the fruit makes up a major component of their diet, up to 42% of the total food intake by weight. In northern state of Pará Brazil, açaí pulp is traditionally served in gourds called "cuias" with tapioca and, depending on the local preference, can be consumed either salty or sweet - sugar, rapadura, and honey are known to be used in the mix.
In southern Brazil, especially Rio, açaí is consumed cold in a bowl. Many cariocas (citizens of Rio de Janeiro) eat açaí for breakfast or before a workout, as it boosts energy and has a lot of protein. Juice bars are everywhere in the Zona Sul and açaí is one of the most popular menu items. Each morning for breakfast we've gone to a different juice bar where we get açaí blended with coconut meat and we top it with sliced banana and granola. It's a great way to start the day.