Friday, July 31, 2009

Capoeira and Handstands and Fear

Once again, I'm standing about a meter in front of the wall, facing it. I'll want to push off with my left foot and kick up with my right foot. I step my left foot forward as I place my hands on the floor, then flex my left knee a little bit more while my right leg stays straight. I push off with my left foot and try, again, to kick my legs up to the wall.

I don't even come close, and both feet drop back to the floor with a thump.

Last week I went to my first Capoeira class. On the way there I joked to Ken that if I wasn't upside down by the end of class, I wasn't going back.

Midway through the (level zero) class, we were practicing handstands and cartwheels. I've never done either.

In yoga, I've done headstands, but never a handstand. I even took a handstand class a few years ago. Apparently I loved it, but I never managed to fully invert.

Every year, about a month before my birthday, I resolve that this year! Before this birthday! I will do a cartwheel. And a handstand! If my feet are all the way up there, why not?

With the exception of a handful of 90-minute classes three years ago, I've never actively tried to achieve this goal. I've gone to yoga classes and done the preparation (mat against the wall, Downward-Facing Dog, walk feet in) and then after a few half-hearted kicks I've rested in Child's Pose, satisified with my "effort".

But now, thanks to these intensely challenging Capoeira classes, I'm trying more sincerely than I ever have, and in trying I've realized that I am almost paralyzed with fear. When the instructor tells us that we'll be practicing an inversion my heart beats loudly in my chest. As I watch my classmates effortlessly step into handstands and turn perfect cartwheels, my breath shortens and I feel a lump in my throat and the words "I can't I can't I can't" repeat so loudly in my head that I'm sure everyone else can hear them, too.

In those moments, I don't want to be there. Sometimes I try to be optimistic, telling the teacher that I can't do that exact move quite yet, and he has given me alternatives to practice, and I do, and survive. Other times, I whisper, "I hate this."

I don't know where this fear comes from, and anyway, it probably doesn't matter. I do know that at the end of every class I've felt stronger, and grateful for the experience. I also know that I'll keep going back.

And maybe this will be the year that I can.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Presenting: Ultra Fine Food


A couple of housekeeping notes:

1. Food posts that previously appeared on Ultra Fine Flair (here!) now also appear on Ultra Fine Food.

2. More importantly, from now on all food-related entries will only be posted on Ultra Fine Food, so if you're interested in those posts, including Fruit of the Day (like today's jatobá!), please add the new site to your RSS reader.

I'm not saying there won't be the occasional cross-post, but if you're more interested in food than the banalities of my life, now you have choices. If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices! Thank you, Sarah Palin.

(Ironically, one of the "first" posts on Ultra Fine Food is the beloved and oft-linked-to Kwanzaa Celebration Cakestravaganza--ironic because it isn't really about food at all.)

P.S. If you're reading this on Facebook, I'm trying to figure out a way to aggregate feeds from the two sites so they both show up as notes. For now, the aforementioned banalties of my life (posted on Ultra Fine Flair) will continue to show up automatically as notes. If you want to keep up on your daily fruits, click on over to Ultra Fine Food.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Membrillo

A very common dessert here in Buenos Aires is queso y dulce, which just means "cheese and sweet". The dulce in question is a very thick jam, so thick that it's sliceable, made of either membrillo or batata (sweet potato). You might be more familiar with the English name for dulce de membrillo: quince paste. It's commonly served in Spain with manchego cheese, and it is delicious. And until now, I had no idea it was made from fruit!

Fruit that looks a lot like a pear, both inside and out.

The membrillo, or quince, is very hard, and was much harder to cut than a pear. At one point I thought it had a big pit because it was so difficult to get my knife through the center. It does taste vaguely like a pear, with almost the exact texture of a potato. Ken had a strong (negative) reaction to its texture and starchiness. I was less offended, and even kind of liked it. I don't think quince is generally eaten raw, so I'm going to try my hand at making quince paste with the remainder of our FotD.
UFF Fruit Rating:

New! All Fruit of the Day and other food-related posts can be found on

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Happens in Brazil

In addition to a smattering of new freckles and a CD full of samba music, Brazil also sent us home with large doses of inspiration. On Monday we celebrated El Día del Amigo (Friends' Day! how nice!) at a local Brazilian club, and on Tuesday we resumed Spanish classes with our beloved Sofía. Yesterday we went to our first Capoeira* class. Check that: It was my first Capoeira class, ever. Ken studied it for about 6 months, once upon a time. It was fun, and very hard, and today everything hurts. In my defense, let's just note that I am a 35-year-old white girl who just spent a month sitting on the beach. Eating cheese.

Also yesterday, we hosted the inaugural meal of - drumroll please! - our tiny new puerta cerrada restaurant in Buenos Aires!

Presenting... Ceci n'est pas un restaurant.

Get it?

In case you're new around here, opening a puerta cerrada is one of my dreams.

And thanks to our many awesome awesome friends here in Buenos Aires, it was a resounding success. All that's left is to tweak that pesky lasagna recipe before we open our closed doors next Tuesday night. Maybe we'll even have a reservation or two before then!

*Capoeira is an "Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music, and dance." This Wikipedia page has some nifty little animations of some of the techniques that apparently even non-cartoon-people can do with their bodies. Who knew?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Kimkam

¡Hola amigos! As you may have gathered with your superior sleuthing skills, we're back in Buenos Aires. Just in case you weren't sure, I have included our handy adventure map (at left. Click to enlarge). There is a small correction on that map: It should read "Gillian & Ken Return to Winter".

I'm very excited about today's fruit. It's called kimkam, which is Portuguese for kumquat, which I've heard all about but never seen before. Kumquats look like tiny oranges. Inside, they have very pretty little green seeds. Better still, kumquats are delicious! I ate a few with the peel, which is extremely fragrant, and a few without, which was more trouble than it was worth. I skipped the inside part surrounding the seeds, but my good friend Wikipedia tells me that the whole fruit can be eaten, with the sour/salty inside providing a contrast to the sweeter outer rind.

On top of all that, the name "kinkan" reminds me of Kon Kan, a band I loved in high school. In fact, I didn't know until just this moment that Kon Kan is Canadian! The kimkam has already taught me so much, and now this. Thank you, kimkam.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Graviola

In late-reporting districts, graviola (soursop in English) tied things up with cupuaçu in last week's FotD poll, so here he is, in all his glory:

I'd seen a lot of graviola-flavoured ice cream and juice when we were in Salvador, but never the fruit itself, so I was pretty excited when we came across this guy at a fruit stand in Brasília. He's a big fellow, and probably weighed in at a kilo or more. We carried him around in a backpack the day we bought him, and by the end of the day we'd grown quite fond of today's fruit and had even nicknamed him Little Gravi. He sat in our hostel room overnight and we continued to marvel at his weirdness.

The day after we bought him, we sliced him open. We knew he was related to our beloved pinha, so we were quite excited to try him out. Unfortunately, Little Gravi didn't live up to our (albeit lofty) expectations. Graviola has a simlar creamy texture to both the pinha and the cupuaçu, but it wasn't nearly as sweet and custardy. I did later try sweetened graviola juice, and it tasted a lot more like pinha, and I'm sure I could be persuaded to try graviola ice cream, you know, if the opportunity presented itself.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Brazil: Exceeds Expectations

I hadn't thought much about Brazil other than as a means to escape the start of winter in Buenos Aires. All I knew about Salvador was that it's known for "Afro-Caribbean culture," that there would be fried shrimpy snacks cooked up by ladies wearing big white dresses, and that I should be careful. Oh, and that people there wear flip-flops all the time.

I had no idea that in Salvador, I would meet such incredibly warm and wonderful people who would teach me how to samba and make Brazilian empanadas and with whom I'd drink caipirinhas and play music late into the night. I had no idea that I would be able to eat freshly-caught fish for only a few dollars, or that I would spend most of my days on the beach. I didn't know about the wonder that is beach-cheese, or just how much more delicious coconut water is when it comes straight from the source. I didn't know how good it would feel to sleep in a room that doesn't need window panes because the temperature seldom drops below 24°C. And even when I started to look for a new fruit every day, I never once imagined that I'd find more fruits than I could write about before we returned to Argentina.

Let's just say I really, really loved Brazil. Even Brasília, which, as a city, couldn't be more different from Salvador, grew on me after a few days, and I can even imagine going back for a visit (only next time I'd rent a car).

When we talked about taking a year off to live somewhere else, Ken's first choice was always Brazil. I voted for Buenos Aires, not only because I love dulce de leche, but because I thought it would make more sense to learn Spanish than Portuguese, and tango is oh-so-beautiful. But a month of samba and caipirinhas and Portuguese and capoeira wasn't nearly enough for either of us, so we're planning to bid an early adios to Buenos Aires to return to Brazil, preferrably Bahía, as soon as possible.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Açai

It wouldn't have been a trip to Brazil without sampling some açai. Açai isn't available fresh - apparently the berries don't last for much more than 24 hours after they're harvested, so they're processed (frozen or freeze-dried) immediately after they're picked. In Brazil, açai is readily available frozen as açai na tigela, though, which simply means açai in a bowl. The options for açai na tigela are plentiful: You can get it mixed with any one of another delicious fruit, and/or topped with fruit salad, sliced bananas, or granola.

We had açai na tigela twice. The first time was at a salad/juice bar along the coast in Salvador, where we ordered it blended with mango. The medium-sized bowl was huge, and came with a little packet of granola to pour on top. The second time was at a mall in Brasília, where we ordered it with sliced bananas and granola on top. I also sampled the frozen açai pulp (it overpowered any other fruit with which I mixed it) and a drink called Guaraviton, a soft drink that's a blend of guaraná (yet another fruit) and açai. (Straight-up guaraná is a popular soda flavour in Brazil. It apparently has more caffeine than Coke, and tastes a lot like cream soda. I love it.)

As I mentioned, açai na tigella is served frozen, like sherbet, and is very dark purple. It almost tastes like frozen raspberries, or like a blend of berries - in other words, it's delicious! We both preferred the second bowl, sans mango, which may have been in part because it was garnished with a piece of papaya in the shape of a heart. I certainly can't confirm any weight-loss claims made by proponents of açai, but that may be because açai was often sold right next to irresistable Brazilian pão de queijo (cheese bread).
UFF Fruit Rating:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Cupuaçu

The results are in, and today's fruit is the cupuaçu!

A few weeks ago in Salvador I ate a chocolate filled with cupuaçu. It was tasty, but mixed with the chocolate it was hard to taste the fruit's flavour very distinctly. There was frozen cupuaçu pulp at the supermarket, but I never bought it, mostly because I could never resist the strawberry pulp. I was also kind of holding out for the fruit itself, but had mostly given up until we passed a fruit stand right here in Brasília with a whole stack of these monstrosities.

The cupuaçu looks like a huge potato, and it's outer shell is very, very hard, like wood. When we bought it, the guy at the fruit stand mimed for us how we should crack it open against concrete. We carried it to the park with us, and after we'd had our fill of jabuticabas, we decided to crack open the cupuaçu.

The insides looked like BRAINS!, only smoother. It separated pretty naturally into two sections where the seeds were held together by really light yellow, dense pulp. We dug right in and were both very pleasantly surprised: Cupuaçu tastes like mild lemon custard, with a texture similar to that of our beloved pinha. It's delicious! We found the pulp furthest from each seed to be the sweetest, and it was more vinegary closer to the seed, so we mostly stuck to the edges. We polished off half of the fruit before packing up the rest in its own handy carrying case to bring home for later.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Jabuticaba

Yesterday we went to Brasília's city park. It's really nice! On the way, we passed a fruit stand, and guys, I couldn't believe the bounty. You are in for many fruity treats over the next few days, starting with today's fruit, the jabuticaba.

But first, The Future!

Brasília has great architecture (that is, in fact, quite futuristic). Most of it was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, who has a very informative Wikipedia page. All of our Brasília pics are on Flickr.

Now let's talk about jabuticaba.

Jabuticaba also goes by Brazilian grape, and a slew of other names that you can read all about - where else? - on Wikipedia. Jabuticabas are about the size of a big grapes, are squishy like a little rubber balls, and are very dark purple - almost black. The first jabuticaba I ate I didn't like at all. It was super bitter. Then I tried eating the insides only, without the skin, and discovered that that's the way to go. The insides taste like grapes, only even sweeter, like Welch's grape juice. The pulp is very white, and each fruit contained one or two seeds that were easy enough to spit out, especially since we were eating them in the park. If you get your hands on a jabuticaba, we recommend putting the whole berry in your mouth, biting to break the skin and release the delicious pulp, then spitting out the skin and seeds. If you do it just so, you might end up with a little jabuticaba Pac-Man.

Jabuticaba is also the name of a song by Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto, with the most charming lyrics:

If I could name
A fruit for you
It would be jabuticaba
Blue, black and small
On the outside
And soft and sweet within

You can listen to it (for free!) on Grooveshark.
UFF Fruit Rating:

P.S. We have a lot of new fruit just waiting to be discovered here on Ultra Fine Flair, and I can't decide which one should be up next. So... you get to choose tomorrow's fruit! Vote early and often!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Romã

The romã is the first FotD purchased here in Brasília. You might recognize it as a pomegranate.

I remember the first time I tried pomegranate seeds. I was at a restaurant in San Mateo, California, and I'd ordered butternut squash soup. It came garnished with crème fraîche and pomegranate seeds. I'd never seen anything like them before! The seeds are about the size of kernels of corn. They have yellowish centers and I've seen them range from pink to dark red on the outside of the seed (I suspect they darken, and sweeten, as they ripen). The ones I bought here weren't quite ripe, and the seeds taste tart and are still a little too crunchy inside. Fortunately I know how great pomegranate seeds can be, or I might dismiss this fruit like I did yesterday's sapoti, which according to more knowledgeable sources actually are delicious when they're ripe.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Sapoti

On more than one occasion I thought I'd tapped Salvador's supply of new and wonderful fruits, but I always took a second look when we passed a fruit stand and went out of my way to check out the produce section at the grocery store. Just in case. And on more than one occasion, I was rewarded with something I'd never seen before. When I was extra lucky, I could even figure out the name of the new fruit so I could write about it.

One of those extra passes through the fruit section at the grocery store yielded today's fruit, the sapoti, or sapodilla. Sapodillas look and even feel like potatoes. I get pretty excited when a fruit doesn't look like much on the outside, because I've frequently been rewarded with fruits like maracujás and goiabas that are all inner-beauty and deliciousness. And imagine if you were the first dude to ever cut into a watermelon? That guy is a god somewhere, I'm sure.

It has gone the other way, too, like with the cajú - it looked amazing but fell completely short of expectations. And then, there are the straight-up dud fruits, the ones that I'm sure can be cooked somehow or mixed with something to make a delicacy, somewhere, but eaten straight off the vine (OK, out of the grocery store) just didn't please our North American palates. One example is the genipapo, and another, unfortunately, is the sapodilla.

According to Wikipedia, sapodillas are supposed to be delicious. According to me, they are not. The one I tried tasted astringenty and had even more of that chalky texture we found in the cajú and the persimmon, which I now realize probably means those fruits are all high in tannins. Turns out I prefer my tannins in red wine form. The sapodilla has a cute seed, though, that's just kind of tucked inside. I guess that's something.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Monday, July 13, 2009


We're in Brasília! Brasília is the capital of Brazil, and I've read a lot about how it was designed to be futuristic, and also to not need traffic lights. It was dark when we landed so we haven't seen the future-parts yet, but we can confirm that there are many roundabouts and clover-leaf exits from roads, and we only saw two traffic lights. Nobody at our hostel speaks English, so it's quite the adventure already. As we were leaving to find food, Ken asked one of the guys who works here if it was safe to walk around the neighbourhood. He looked at his watch (8 p.m.) and replied, "Yes, tomorrow." Hrm. We ventured out anyway and ate our fill of cheese-slathered meat (so much for our healthy Bahían diet) and are now safely ensconced in our room for the night.

While we're both less-than-enthusiastic about trading beach-cheese for city life, I'm glad we still have a few days left in Brazil. Happily, we've already found some new fruit at the grocery store! We also saw a discarded coconut with a straw sticking out of it, which is definitely a good sign.

Fruit of the Day: Po(n)kan Tangerine

There are countless varieties of citrus fruits available around here. We've already examined the endlessly-useful lime, and its cousin, the cleverly-disguised Bahían orange. A few days ago we asked at a fruit stand for a sweet orange, and were handed one that was apparently a cross between two other oranges (conveniently available in the adjacent bins). Forgive me, I have no idea what the names of any of these are, but presumably they all contain the word laranja (the Portuguese of -- sing it with me! -- orange). The hybrid orange was indeed the sweetest either of us had ever tasted, without even the slightest hint of tang. It was like eating orange sherbet.

Today we have yet another citrus variety, a fruit that is undoubtedly more recognizable than yesterday's. At the grocery store, it was labeled pokan tangerine, but Google suggests that it also goes by ponkan tangerine. It could also be that pokan is Portuguese for ponkan. No matter, really. The bottom line is, I can't resist buying a fruit that still has its leaves attached. Look at that guy. He's all jaunty.

The ponkan tangerine is squishy, and its skin is a little loose. The loose skin makes it really easy to peel, which I value in a citrus fruit. The cross-section is good and orangey, both in colour and flavour. It tastes juicy and sweet. The best thing about it, though, might be its smell, which currently indicates that I need to wrap this up so I can eat the little guy without getting my keyboard all juicy.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Cacau

Yesterday was just a regular Saturday here in Salvador, Brazil. We got back from the beach around 5, showered, had a snack. Oh, and then we made chocolate.

You know, like you do on a Saturday night.

It all started last weekend when we were out for a stroll. We passed a grocery store and noticed a new fruit. It was labeled cacau, and when I shook it (oh-so-gently, of course) it sounded hollow inside, like it might contain a pit with space around it. Ken speculated at the time that cacau might translate as cocoa, and later, the internets confirmed his suspicions. Cocoa! A.k.a., future chocolate! While I captured the cacau's outsides for posterity, Ken did some more research, and learned that not only are raw cocoa beans delicious and nutritious, an ambitious individual can use them to make chocolate at home.

We are nothing if not ambitious.

First, we cut off the end of the cocoa pod, and peered inside. It was like Alien in there. It looked really, really gross.

The beans were all held together by a sinewy pulp and came out of the pod as a cluster. A very unappetizing cluster. However, as I am 100% committed to FotD, I tried a bean. The pulp is tasty! It isn't chocolatey in the least, but it's sweet. The beans themselves taste kind of like raw coffee beans. They're a little bitter, but mostly inoffensive. And when you untangle a cocoa bean from all that pulp it's very pretty, and looks like a purple almond. We ate a couple of beans then wrapped the rest of the gooey, pulpy bunch in a rag to ferment. And ferment they did! There is no photographic evidence of fermentation, but after six days, that rag smelled good and fermented. Trust me.

Next, we left them in the sun to dry while we went to the beach and ate beach-cheese and coconut popsicles.

When we got home, we put the fermented, dried cocoa beans in the oven for about half an hour. The kitchen smelled shockingly like chocolate. Then we shelled them and had a bunch of cocoa nibs.

Next up, grinding and conching. For the grinding step, we used a pestle (easily had, with all the caipirinha-making that goes on in these parts) with a clear glass mug, so we could see what was going on. We took turns grinding those beans until they finally started to look like butter. Cocoa butter! At this point they still tasted very bitter, but distinctly smelled like chocolate.

Much Googling revealed that for the conching step we were going to need a fancy machine. We could only assume that people made chocolate before such fancy machines were invented, so we decided to skip that part and just mix in some sugar. Add sugar, taste, add sugar, taste... We added about 4-5 tsp of sugar to the cocoa from a single pod, and it was still pretty bitter, so your mileage may vary.

(Tempering is another optional step that will make your chocolate look pretty, but doesn't affect the taste. We didn't care if we had to eat it blindfolded, so we skipped that step as well.)

After adding sugar, we pressed our fermented, dried, roasted, ground, and sweetened cocoa beans into a ramekin. Ramekin might come from a Dutch word for "toast" or a German word for "little cream," but last night it was Portuguese for "chocolate mould." We then went out for bolinhos de bacalhau (fried cod balls (heh)) and a couple or three caipirinhas. Give or take.

Today, Sunday, there was chocolate. We toasted the miraculous cacau fruit with a cup of the finest Brazilian coffee we could find. And we rejoiced.

UFF Fruit Rating: , obviously. This fruit turns into CHOCOLATE.

P.S. We mostly used the chocolate-making instructions here. They leave a lot of room for interpretation, which we like. The only thing we might have changed was our roasting time. The oven here is very hot (the minimum temperature is 200°C, or around 400°F), and we think we would have had even more delicious results if we'd roasted the beans for 10 minutes instead of 30.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Caqui Rama Forte

The caqui rama forte isn't a tomato, but it could play one on TV.

You probably know it better as a persimmon, yet another fruit name I totally adore. One of our persimmons was orange and the other one red. I know I've seen (and eaten) persimmons in California, but I don't remember them looking like primitive tic-tac-toe boards inside!

The first bite was sweet and juicy and really delicious, but a few minutes later both of us noticed the same chalkiness we experienced way back when with our inaugural FotD, the cajú. Not quite as chalky, but neither of us went back for seconds.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Acerola

I've seen the packages of acerolas in the grocery store since the day we arrived in Brazil, and I've always walked right past them because I thought they were imported cherries. Turns out I wasn't totally wrong, as acerola also goes by Barbados cherry, or wild crapemyrtle. Wild crapemyrtle! These names just keep getting better and better, don't they?

Acerola are tart little berries, kind of like sour cherries. Also, they're bright yellow inside, which makes me love them even more. They don't have a single pit like cherries; instead, the seed is divided into three pieces that you can cut in between pretty easily. I think this seed-thing would make them a lot more difficult to use in a pie, though, unless someone invents an acerola-pitter.

This afternoon I had a glass of acerola juice. I assume it was sweetened, because it was nowhere near as tart as the fresh berry I'd eaten earlier. The juice was super cold and frothy, and reminded me a lot of the Strawberry Julius drinks I used to get at the Orange Julius in Conestoga Mall in my youth.
UFF Fruit Rating:

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Do You Know What I Love (DYKWIL): Brazil Edition

1. Coconut on the beach! Did I mention that you can also ask the machete-equipped dudes to crack open the coconut after you finish drinking the water, so you can eat the meat? Today on the beach we had the meatiest one ever - seriously, it was a meal in itself. Yum.
2. Sharing cooking & recipes with Jackie. Jackie and Alex run our hostel. Jackie is an amazing cook, and I like to hang out in the kitchen and ask her, "¿Qué hacés?" ("What are you making?") That's how I learned how to make pão de quiejo, or cheese bread, which will be a fixture at all future cocktail and dinner parties.
3. The paintings around our hostel. See: Jackie. She's also an artist with a wonderful eye for colour.
4. Capoeira on the beach: Every day we see guys who could easily compete with the most lithe Chinese 15-year-old in Olympic gymnastics' mat routines. For real.
5. Fruits of the day.
6. Coconut-flavoured things. Everything from cookies to ice cream to dish soap comes in coconut flavour (or scent). Delish.
7. Having sandy toes.
8. Red wine and caipirinhas.
9. The smell of fruit stands.
10. Every shade of brown skin.
11. New friends from Spain, Austria, India, Uruguay, Brazil
12. Midnight Samba, as taught by Jackie. This is one talented individual. Do you wish you were Alex yet?
13. Intense rainstorms that are over in 20 minutes and indicate in no uncertain terms that it's OK to keep sleeping.
14. Speaking of which... 8+ hours of sleep, every night.
15. Pinha.
16. The sound of Portuguese.

Today's fruit is tamarinda, which easily translates to tamarind. You've eaten it on a samosa, I'm sure, but have you ever seen it in its original form?

Those little pods cost all of 75¢. I peeled them and now they're soaking in water to eventually turn into tamarind sauce, which I think will go nicely with the cheese bread we'll eat on the beach tomorrow night. In its raw form, tamarind pulp is so tart that my mouth actually puckered when I tried eating it! I liked it anyway, and I'm betting the sauce will be delicious.
UFF Fruit Rating:

In other news, on Monday we head to Brasilia (the futuristic-looking capital of Brazil). This afternoon we made a deposit to our hostel there at a local branch of Banco do Brasil, and I'm pleased to report that Ken is even sexier in Portuguese than in English.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Yes, We Have NoMany Bananas

An unfortunate combination of red wine, beer, and cachaça last night means that today's fruit - which you all know and love! - will be presented in pictures. I will tell you that the Portuguese word for banana is, conveniently, banana, and that the bananas here in Salvador are sweeter and more delicious than any I've ever eaten. They're also perfectly snack-sized, and a bunch of a dozen costs about $1.50. We eat them every day.
UFF Fruit Rating:

More Fruit of the Day posts can be found here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fruit of the Day: Umbú

Today's fruit is the umbú, which is also called the Brazil plum or "spondias tuberosa" (how technical!). It looks a lot like a key lime, sometimes with little horns. I tried to cut one open but was thwarted by a very hard pit. The skin came off readily, though, so I peeled it and found yellowish, pulpy fruit inside.

Doesn't that little guy on the right look like a fish? Cute!

I like the taste of the umbú. It's quite tart, kind of like a lime. The fruit really sticks to the pit which makes it a little bit difficult to eat. Ken sprinkled sugar on his to make an all-natural Sour Patch Kid. Delicious! Wikipedia says it's usually boiled down with sugar to make jams or preserves, which makes sense. Also from Wikipedia: The fruit's name comes from the indigenous phrase y-mb-u, which means "tree that gives drink." I like that.
UFF Fruit Rating: