23 April 2009

To the juice bar...home again, home again, giggidy, gig

A mini-holiday in Rio de Janeiro allows for me to elaborate on the somewhat limited selections that I have in my charming, yet out-in-the-country, town of Paraty. For dinner one night we went to a lanchonete (lahn-shoh-neh-chee) which is a juice bar/sandwich/sometimes hot food shop. This particularly yummy one named "NaturalPolis" (a take on Brazilian cities with suffixes reminiscent of European languages that once were spoken here in the southeast of the country like Petropólis and Florianópolis) in the fashionable Leblon neighborhood. As you can see by the list on the left of fresh fruits available to blend into juice, there is no shortage of choices here! Some of my best-loved are "melancia" (watermelon), "caqui" (persimmon), "graviola" (a squishy, white-fleshed fruit encased in a soft, green, notched skin and called guanábana in Spanish, guyabano in the Philippines, and soursop in English, though I had never heard of or seen this fruit before living in the tropics...and one of my all-time favorites-first photo below, left), "fruta do conde" (also called "pinha" in Brazil or sugar-apple in English and grows in tropical regions with a flavor similar to graviola, only in a smaller version-second photo below), and "cacau" (the slimy/sweet insides of the cocoa pod that cradles the seeds that chocolate is made from-second row, left). Other popular selections are "acerola" (red cherry look-alike, and one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C from Mother Nature-next to cacau), "pitanga" (a kind of peppery, tart, fluted-looking berry-third row, left photo), "cajú" (the fruit of the cashew tree that has the nut attached to the top of the fruit and must be roasted before consumed to clear it of toxicity-next photo) and "cupuaçu" (super-healthy pod from the Amazon that is related to cacau-last photo).

You can have your liquid health mixed with water or milk (occationally soy milk), sweetened or sugar-free, and with optional add-ins like oats, other powered grains or milk, and chocolate vitamin powder (think Nesquick).

On this night I selected, for me, one of the greatest discoveries in the world of fruit-jaca (zha-ka)! Known also as jackfruit, is the largest tree-borne fruit on earth and can reach a weight of up to 80 pounds! The outside armor is a bit intimidating, with its gree spines and sour smell, but just crack it open and see a beauty come out of the beast. The edible parts, which resemble little bouquets, taste like perfumed flowers mixed with pears...or something like that! The first time I sampled jaca was when I was traveling through the north of Brazil and stayed at a little bed & breakfast in the state of Bahia. We were served this with our coffee and our tapioca "bread" and I immediately fell in love! I had never seen jaca as a juice before and was eager to give it a whirl. Delicious!!

Lanchonetes also serve an assortment of food, though usually of the pocket sandwich (called salgados, pre-made and kept warm in glass cases for the customer to see...good if fresh, food poisoning territory if old) or bread-and-cold meat varieties. Sometimes made-to-order, hot foods are also an option. Most contain grilled or breaded beef or chicken, ham, eggs, or cheese, rice, beans (I prefer black), French fries, and salad (almost unanimously consisting of lettuce and sliced tomatoes, sometimes onions and carrots, and palm hearts if you are really lucky). Hamburgers are also a Brazilian staple, though few here know that they were not a Brazilian invention. Sadly, you will never find pickles on the side!
I got a chicken-salad sandwich on warm, salty-buttered bread with shredded carrots and corn (and I think fresh parsley) mixed in...can it get much better than that!

No comments:

Post a Comment

if you have something to say do it here: