The acai berry comes from a palm tree very common in the state of Pará. It gives, especially during the dry season, coconuts the size of a cherry. The fruit is dark violet, almost black. It’s taken with or without sugar, flour with water, dry flour or tapioca flour. In ice creams or porridges, like milk, one red milk mixed into rice porridge, cassava flour and cassava-puba “explains Guta Keys.
It is a refreshment of indigenous origin and low-dose alcohol obtained from the fermentation of pineapple peel, ground corn or rice. Very popular in different regions of Brazil the traditional recipe has variations in preparation and types of ingredients according to locality, but is more common in the north and northeast.
In the states of Acre and Amazonas it is common to use the ground corn or corn flour, while in Belem fruit peels such as pineapple, ginger root (grated or crushed), sugar (or sugar cane) and lemon juice are used.
Agua de coco
Literally meaning coconut water, this drink is often served directly in the coconut itself. Unripe coconuts contain much more liquid than ripe coconuts, as the liquid is absorbed by the flesh of the fruit, so green coconuts are plucked of the trees and opened for a sweet and mild drink. Agua de Coco can easily be found in stands on the street. They skillfully cut the coconut open in front of you with a small machete. This is to show that the milk inside will be fresh.
It sounds touristy but it’s not – the juice is high in electrolytes, and Brazilians value its rehydrating properties. If you’re on the beach on a hot day, nothing beats coconut water, or água de coco – but be careful how you pronounce the word coco (hint: stress the first o as you would in the word orange, otherwise it will sound to them like you are ordering poo!).
This mix of cachaça, fruit, ice and lots of sugar is a favorite in the kiosks that line the Brazilian coast. You name the fruit – maracujá (passion fruit), coco (coconut), morango (strawberry). In fact, caipirinha is just one more type of batida.
Caipirinha: This is the most famous drink from Brazil and considered the national cocktail. Made with cachaça, sugar and lime juice, it can either be a refreshing cocktail or a strong one that might leave you regretting your purchase.
Caju Amigo: “The Friendly Cashew” combines two of Brazil’s favorite flavors. It is a mixture of cachaça with juice from a cashew nut. Every now and again you can find bars that have a must more entertaining method, which involves chewing a cashew, keeping it in your mouth and then swallowing it with a shot of cachaça.
Leite de Onça: “Jaguar Milk” again made with cachaça, it is a combined with milk and served cold. It is usually served in a mug without any garnish so it can easily be mistaken for a mug of normal milk (is that why the kids are always so happy in Brazil).
Aluá : There are several recipes for this drink popular in the Northeast states (Bahia, Ceará and Pernambuco, among others), that may or not be alcoholic. You mix one pinapple´s peel, two litters of water, brown sugar, cloves and grated ginger. The skin of the pineapple should be kept in water for a whole night to get fermented. The longer it remains in water, the more alcoholic the beverage. This water is strained and mixed to the other ingredients.
Brazilians enjoy their beer (cerveja) served bem gelada (icy cold). In general, a cerveja refers to a 600ml bottled beer, a`longneck’ is a 300ml bottle, and a cervejinha is a 300ml can. Antartica and Brahma are the big national brands. Keep your eyes peeled for regional brands including Bohemia from Petropolis , Cerpa from Para, Cerma from Maranhao and the tasty Serramalte from Rio Grande do Sul. For thicker palates, try the stoutlike Caracu or Xingu , sweet black beers from Santa Catarina.
Chope (shop-ee) is a pale blond pilsner draft that’s equal to the canned or bottled version but comes with a better glass. Antarctica and Brahma produce the two most widespread versions. In big cities you may even find chope escuro, a kind of light stout. Key phrase: Moço, mais um chope, por favor! (Waiter, another draft, please!).
Cachaça, the Brazilian counterpart of rum, is made of the fermented sugarcane juice. There are probably a few thousand of brands, some extremely refined, some too bad to be mentioned. A recent contest promoted by cachaça experts chose the best artisan brands produced in the state of Minas Gerais (which basically means in Brazil). The winners were Diva (from Divinópolis, a white cachaça), Pirapora (from the city of same name, an aged cachaça) and Áurea Custódio (from Ribeirão das Neves, a premium cachaça). Also Playboy magazine published a cachaça ranking (here ordered from first to fifth place): Anísio Santiago/Havana (from the city of Salinas), Vale Verde (Betim), Claudionor (Januária), Germana (Nova União) and Magnífica (Vassouras). They are all from Minas Gerais, apart from the last one, from the state of Rio. And here you find a large list of Brazilian cachaças, including their origins and alcoholic degrees.
The abundance of cashew in the state of Piauí originated in the most popular drink of the region. Cajuína, is a symbol of the cultural capital Teresina. The soft drink is not alcoholic and is obtained by hand from the juice of the cashew, which is filtered, clarified and sterilized. The amber color is due to caramelization of the natural sugars of the fruit. The cajuína is consumed cold.
Brazilians like their coffee as strong as the devil, as hot as hell and as sweet as love. In the morning they take it with milk (cafe com leite). For the rest of the day, it’s cafezinhos, regular coffee served either in a drinking glass or an espresso-sized coffee cup and often presweetened. It is sold in stand-up bars and dispensed free in large thermoses in restaurants, at hotel reception desks and in offices to keep the general population perky the whole day through. Espresso is increasingly available in more upscale establishments, and just about everywhere in Sao Paulo , which boasts a highly evolved coffee culture.
For those with a sweet tooth, the sugar cane juice is available in street markets practically everywhere in the country. Sometimes lime or pineapple are added to the beverage.
Garapa, or Caldo de cana, is extracted directly from lengths of sugarcane, usually with a machine that’s a hand-cranked, multicogged affair.
Guaraná Antartica: Is the most popular soft drink produced in Brazil with a distinct apple/berry flavour. To give you an idea of the popularity of Guaraná, it is the official sponsor of the Brazilian national football team (yes, they beat Coca-cola to that title).
The national soft drink is made of guaraná, an Amazonian fruit that is an energy booster – it has twice the caffeine of coffee beans. Guaraná, the soda, has very small amounts of guaraná, the fruit, though, unlike guaraná powder, sold in vitamin shops.
Cola: If you want a Coca-Cola in Brazil, ask for coca, as “cola” means “glue”, in Portuguese (but if you say “Coca-cola”, everybody will understand).
In Maranhão, Guarana Jesus is affectionately known as the “pink dream”. It is a rare phenomenon of regional resistance to global brands of soft drinks. A journalist and researcher Guta Keys says that the formula of the drink is the same as set up in 1920 in a backyard laboratory in São Luís, by pharmacist Jesus Norberto Gomes. At the time he had just imported a machine for gasification.
Gomes wanted to produce a kind of fluid magnesia but it did not work and he decided to make a drink for the grandchildren from 17 basic ingredients, including herbs and products discovered in his travels through Amazon. The sweet taste of cinnamon and different color pleased the kids throughout the neighborhood and, with time, the drink fell to the popular taste.
The history of Guaraná Jesus is confused with that of its creator. So much so that when he was required formal registration of the product now known informally as “Guaraná Jesus”, it remained so. “The refrigerant, which has the same formula, was recently purchased by Coca Cola Brazil and perhaps why the name has changed to Cola-Guaraná Jesus”, explains the researcher.
Brazilian sucos (juices) are divine. Staples include known quantities such as orange, lime, papaya, banana, passion fruit, carrot, beet, pineapple, melon, watermelon and avocado. Then there are the Amazonian fruits that hardly exist outside Brazil . The berrylike açaí is prized for its nutritional value and addictive taste, while guaraná (a type of berry) is loaded with caffeinelike stimulants. In the Northeast, the options are limitless. Mango, cashew (the fruit, not the nut on top of it), siriguela, jaca (jackfruit), cajá,cupuaçu, bacuri or açaí.
Juice bars are around in abundance, even in small towns, and a good-sized glass costs US$1. In Rio , where juice is a way of life, corner bars can offer 30 or 40 different varieties. The juices may be made from fresh fruit and vegetables or from pulp. Request them sem açucar e gelo or natural, if you don’t want sugar and ice. Juices often have water mixed in; this is almost certain to be purified but if you’re worried about it, you can ask for juices mixed with suco de laranja (orange juice) instead of water, or for a vitamina, which is juice with milk. Orange juice is reaely adulterated.
The name covers some types of ginger-based drinks. In Paraná, a very popular drink is Cini Gengibirra. In the industrial process the root is resting for a year before entering the recipe.
The locals believe that the drink has expectorant effects and is even aphrodisiac. There is a homemade version that in addition to ginger, takes water and sugar, yeast and egg whites.
In Amapá, the Gengibirra is not so innocent. It takes grated ginger boiled water with cloves and sugar caramel. After boiling the mixture, add the rum to taste. All versions are consumed chilled.
A classic among college students. Grown-ups tend to be ashamed of drinking this in public. You should fill half a metal cup with cachaça. Add a small amount of Sprite or some similar soda. Cover the cup with your hand, lift it and hit the table (that movement could be described as porradinha). The volume of the drink will grow quickly, so drink it in only one sip.
Like Glühwein, quentão helps to warm up at cold nights. It is made with cachaça, water, ginger, cinnamon and clove. Pieces of fruit, like pineapple, or slivers of lemon and orange can be added to the recipe. It also varies according to the region of the country where it is made. There are some recipes with wine.
Very popular among mestizos in Pará, is considered food by many due to its energy value, similar to eggnog. It is made with water and cassava flour. In a bowl, place the flour, and then water, and then traditionally all moves go from left to right. The natives take the shibe two to three times a day and believe that it helps to overcome the difficulties of life and restore the energy. Children usually add sugar, honey or molasses.
Typical of the Southern states, mixes a dose of Steinhäger (a beverage made of juniper) and a cup of draft beer. Originally, German immigrants would drink both spirits separately, but simultaneously. In Brazil, we turn the cup with Steinhäger face down inside a larger cup. Then pour beer inside. The Steinäger “escapes” into the beer.
A good cup of tea is harder to come by, but erva mate is a potential alternative. It’s available throughout the country and is usually served cold and cloyingly sweet. Only in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is it drunk hot.
Chimarrão: The Brazilian version of yerba mate. As in Uruguay and Argentina this special tea is both symbolic and social, and is commonly share among a group of friends through a special ceremony where each person drinks from the same cup. It is considered to have many of the same health benefits as Chinese green tea and has natural caffeine in it. This drink is more common in the South of Brazil.
Tereré: This is a cold version of chimarrão that is enjoyed mainly in the South of Brazil. It is mixed with citrus juice and is a refreshing drink during hot weather.
Brazilian wines, by most Brazilians’ own admission, aren’t anything to write home about. There are some, however, and they are improving. Casa Valduga is one of the better winemakers.
You can get good Argentinian and Chilean wines in the better restaurants, though they will be expensive.
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