Thursday, January 29th, 2004


And now some notes on fruits (mostly as juice) I tasted while in Brazil. I didn’t manage to try all of the ones I wanted, but it’s a start. Some of them can be found on this website. Describing the taste is almost impossible for me, but I’m working off of the notes I cribbed at the time.

  • Açaí: the king of Amazonian fruits, it is very strong and acidic, due to the soil chemistry, as Ram pointed out. It is also quite sweet. It it served pretty thick, a kind of purple soup that is the consistency of yogurt. Eaten with granola, it’s the perfect pick-you-up natural energy snack.
  • Graviola: looks very similar to the sitaphal or custard apple that one gets in India, but it is not as strong flavored. The juice is light like apple or grape, but creamier. The fruit itself is green and bumpy, about the size of a pear.
  • Bacuri: another Amazonian fruit, I’m not sure what it looks like, but it tastes very much like sitaphal or banana mixed with some grape for tanginess.
  • Pitanga: I had some of this berry in Ilha Grande, fresh from a tree. About the size of a cherry, but a brighter red, it is very acidic but I could see it making a killer pie filling.
  • Cupuaçu: very melon-like in taste, but a little more sour. The juice was refreshing in the summer heat, and not too heavy.
  • Guarana: the taste is somewhat indescribable, and I only had it as a soda or natural, so I have no idea what the fruit itself is like. It is a real pick-you-up though.
  • Umbu: tastes like a berry (gooseberries come to mind rather than blueberries), but one of the juicier ones, so the juice was not too thick. My juice was a little sour, but that made it all the better on a hot day.
  • Maracuja: the passion fruit, it’s used everywhere from juice to desserts to this fabulous mousse I had to the Halls Vita-C cough drops I bought. Very sweet, almost cloyingly so, it’s what you might think of when you hear “tropical fruit.”
  • Goiaba: the pink guava, which you also get in Hawaii. They make mostly jam out of it here, which makes it very sweet — the fresh one is lighter and the flavor is more delicate.
  • Caju: the fruit of the cashew tree. It rocks so much I can’t describe it. The aftertaste is a little nutty I think, but it is a very sweet juice somewhat like a lighter mango mixed in with pear maybe.

Other fruits I wanted to try — siriguela, camu-camu, and anything else with a name that looked interesting. Next time I get a chance to go to the supermarket, I’m going to load up on new fruits — they are so exciting!

Apparently in Minnesota they say “Duck Duck Grey Duck,” which is somewhat absurd to me. It’s “Duck Duck Goose.” Perhaps the Harvard people who did the Soda/Pop/Coke survey know more about it and can give an authoritative answer. Another variation is “Goose Goose Gander.” You get your choice of -ists: racist (grey duck), sexist (gander) and speciesist (goose).

Charles L. Mee is a playwright who has the full text of all his plays available for free on his website. Last year I did a monologue from his play Big Love, a modernization of The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus. I’m not sure if it will get his plays performed more, but it’s great for those who want to read the works of a pretty well-known contemporary playwright. Many of his plays are reworkings of Greek tragedies, but he makes the classics more modern. Mee’s characters really use the language as weapon, and when I read some of his scenes I get little tingles up and down my back, like watching a kung-fu film or a sword fight. Certainly worth a gander.

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