2.02.2007

Brazilian snack bars

In Rio , lanchonetes -- casual spots that sell juice and sandwiches -- are everywhere. Which is why I usually have about three or four fresh juices per day while I'm there.

On my first visit to Brazil , the long list of options was overwhelming, so I always let Daniel guide me. There were fruits I was familiar with (orange, apple and watermelon) and so many others I'd never heard of -- cupuaçu, pitanga, and caju to name a few.

Cupuaçu and pitanga don't exist in the States so there isn't a direct translation, but caju is cashew.

I think the fruit itself is so cute, especially in this picture, but its high tannin content? Not my favorite. When blended with water to make a juice, it isn't quite as chalky, plus there's all that vitamin C it contains. According to Daniel's grandmother, it causes constipation in either form, so I usually just steer clear of the stuff.

Daniel misses lanchonetes a lot and it's so easy to understand why. They're cheap, casual and open from morning till night. Service is quick, but don't expect to get your drink or sandwich to go -- non-disposable plates make it easy to stand and savor. Sometimes you can sit, but most lanchonetes only have counters.

On this particular trip, we became regulars at Bibi Sucos in Leblon which happens to have a few tables; their other location in Jardim Botanico (which we discovered after an afternoon hike in Horto) has booths and a surprisingly sleek setting.

I was a guava juice girl when I lived in Brazil, the perfect accompaniment to my beloved chicken, cheese and pinepapple sandwiches. These days, I keep it a bit more simple and usually order orange juice, or orange juice with acerola (a tart, cherry-like fruit that's also packed with vitamin C), passionfruit, or pineapple with mint.

And every so often, Daniel and I like to share an açaí, one of the most unusual and exotic "juices" of all. Made by blending the pulp of a purple berry from the Amazon with guaraná, a highly caffeinated berry from the same region, this is the drink to order if you want an immediate energy boost.

Served cold in a tall glass, it's like a melt-in-your-mouth smoothie. The flavor is deep and fruity, and I guarantee that if you try to have just a few bites, like I usually do because caffeine makes me crazy, you'll end up eating the entire thing. For a real treat, order it na tigela (in a bowl) with sliced bananas and granola on top. You'll feel like a Carioca in no time.





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5 comments:

Lydia said...

Hi Lia -- found your blog from Patricia's Technicolor Kitchen. Lovely, lovely -- I'm looking forward to catching up with your posts, especially as I'm planning to visit a friend who's recently moved to Brazil.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lia,

Açaí is so powerful that I've only had it once - it kicked in pretty hard for me. I guess I can say I was high in açaí. lol

Acerola juice is delicious, kind of tart but I like it.

And I'm with about cashew - it think it's a beautiful fruit!

Lia said...

Lydia, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy all my posts about Brazil. I'll be putting one up soon that lists all my favorite restaurants, so stay tuned!

Patricia, I really was so amazed to discover that cashew nuts grew on a piece of fruit!

April said...

I would love to try this berry smoothie, especially as a healthy caffeinated snack. If I had the choice to drink acais on a daily basis or coffee, there would be no question that I would live off of these fruitful energy boosts. My question, can we get that berry here in the U.S.?

Lia said...

April, I think you would love açaí. The berry comes from the north of Brazil, but there are some companies in the States that import it. Although I have to be honest and say that none of the açaís I've had here taste nearly as good as they do in Brazil!

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