Hello everyone! My name is Nana, and I am publishing my very first post here at HellohealthyCooking . Yay! I couldn’t be happier about this, especially because I will share with you a little something about my beloved Brazil – my home country.
Last April, my family and I went for a trip to Brazil to visit my parents, other relatives and friends. We knew that eating healthy out of home has always been a challenge, but when you travel abroad this challenge takes on greater proportions. Well, what I know is that during the 30 years I lived in Brazil, I did not care much (or not at all, to be honest) about eating healthy. Now, traveling back there after 10 years living in the USA and almost a year after adopting a new and healthier lifestyle can be really tricky… and it really was.
It is hard not to notice the differences between produce and fruits that are available to you. An example: in Brazil you don’t find berries everywhere, but you can find some unique fruits you can not find anywhere else. One example is a fruit called “jabuticaba”. Have you heard of it? It resembles a slip-skin grape. It has a thick, purple skin that encases a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. It is nearly impossible to eat only one… or two or three…
Same thing with vegetables, and the newbie in our meal plan there was this one: maxixe (or maroon cucumber). In Brazil, they are very well known in beef stews, but we had the opportunity to try it sautéed as a cooked vegetable. Its flavor is unique, but not strong at all. It is one of those things you want to try but are not sure you would eat too often.
Besides unique fruits and vegetables, Brazil also gifts us with its varieties of fruits that are commonly known, such as mango. Mangoes in Brazil come in several types and sizes, each one with their unique tropical and sweet flavor. After visiting street fairs and produce markets, we named our favorite: Palmer (mango). The difference of the Palmer mango to others is that Palmer is big, super sweet and almost with no fiber strands to get stuck in your teeth..
There are many different types of bananas in Brazil. All of them are on the same genus, but taste and look different from one another. The banana d’água or Cavendish grows in a small tree, and that is why, in Brazil, it is also called nanica (or dwarf in English). Differently from other species, the nanica does not constipate you; on the contrary, it acts as a mild laxative.
The Lady Finger banana (banana-ouro in Portuguese) is the smallest of them, but its sweet taste makes it popular. The canary banana (banana-prata in Portuguese), also known as table or common banana is not as sweet, but it takes longer to spoil and is very good to make sweets. The apple banana, also known as silk banana, is very easily digested and is the favorite choice for babies and the elderly. But remember, it constipates you.
The plantain (called banana-da-terra in Brazil) is big and great for cooking and frying.
With so many options, it gets hard to choose. Now, peeling and eating them is easy!
We loved the Lady Finger bananas, and a curious fact about them is that you can only buy straight from farmers who sells on the side of the roads that lead to the beach. I had a small “nostalgia” of my childhood eating gold bananas while traveling to the beach down there.
My husband (Blue) also liked Apple bananas due to its uniqueness and texture. I particularly love them all. Bananas are one of my favorite fruits and I eat at least one per day 🙂
Papayas and pineapples are also different in Brazil. They have a papaya type called “formosa”, which is huge and super sweet, full of flavor. Now for the pineapples, in Brazil you don’t need to worry about the core. They are very tender and sweet, and can be eaten along with the fruit itself.
Now about vegetables and produce in general. In Brazil the variety is amazingly wide, however, the country still struggles with organic produce. They are there, but they are way more expensive and not accessible everywhere. Something interesting about produce in Brazil, is that people there do not buy them in a grocery store very often. Grocery store’s produce are, actually, the last option. The first “go to place” for produce (and fruits) are the street fairs. Every single neighborhood has their own weekly street fair, that means one day of the week, from 6 AM to 2 PM you can just go down the street and buy your produce straight from farmers. They are always fresh, cheap, and delicious. I love visiting street fairs to support local business and to go through the wide variety of fresh produce they sell.
Now, you probably remember me saying in the beginning of this article that eating healthy in Brazil would be a hard task. You may also say: “how can eating healthy be hard with all these varieties and street fairs everywhere?” Well, healthy food is always available, the hard part is resisting those vacation mode temptations, and this is a topic of another article.
Did you like all interesting facts about produce and fruits in Brazil? Have you ever been to Brazil? Let me know in the comments!
See you next time,
PS – Types of bananas – credit to Bruno Amorim