Did you know that Brazil tops the world in fruit production? Apparently they have at least 300 different fruits so in her latest dispatch, our globetrotting English teacher, Nina Cirana, gives us the A to Z of tropical fruit – well, A to C and a few others, plus a checklist of other fruits and vegetables available from her local greengrocer.
A is for abakati (pronounced abakachi), aka avocado. They are as big as pumpkins and only cost 10 to 15 pence each. You see avocado trees on roadsides, you can pick up the fruits that are lying in plenty under the trees. These trees are so plentiful that people make furniture from them. I bought an avocado the other day and sliced 1/16th of it to eat, but still didn’t manage to finish it. The outer skin is almost as hard as a shell, so you can use that 1/16th part as a bowl. You simply scoop out from it and eat it with a sprinkling of salt and pimenta. The smooth, extra creamy texture – that luxurious feeling – ahhh, tastes so divine! They are so plentiful that you can eat them as common snacks or make a smoothie called Vitaminas. You can also cook with avocado oil.
B is for banana. Tall banana plants reach up to my window on the third floor. They are bursting with bunches of bananas, and I can also see pears in profusion on the pear trees, the loaded lime trees and the pumpkin creepers on the other side. Bananas are delicious and come in more than 50 varieties. I love the banana vegetables that are about a foot long, you slice them and make banana fritters. Delicioso!
C is for chuchu. Check out the photo of the chuchus growing on the trees. I tried to take a photo in the shop, but they wouldn’t allow me. Now I’m racking my brains trying to think of what it resembles! I don’t want to start telling you how smooth it feels and how delicious it tastes!
G is for guarana. The local Brazilian drink, Guarana, is made with guarana fruit which are like red berries. They come from the Amazon and have twice the caffeine found in coffee beans. Guarana also makes you alert and increases your memory power. I drink it before and during meetings to keep me awake!
O is for oranges. I’m standing under a tree with mini oranges that are slightly larger than a grape (see photo). These oranges are called ‘the oranges for the rich’. You eat the orange whole without peeling the skin and it is extremely sweet. The way to eat them is to pop the whole fruit into your mouth. I had to use my finger to push the orange little by little till it disappeared down my throat. I learnt my lesson and started picking the baby mini oranges.
Opposite my school / flat is a greengrocer who sells only organic vegetables and fruits. Besides vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leafy/salad vegetables, beans, peas and all that we get in the UK, we also have okras, green baby aubergines, yam, caras, asparagus, green bananas, cassava, jilos and many more that I haven’t come across.
I have yet to taste the caju fruits (the cashew nut fruit) and the brazil nut fruits. But I have eaten many mangoes, guavas, sapotis, papayas and pinhas, besides the usual apples, oranges, pears, bananas, strawberries, coconuts etc.