Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taste of Brazil - Drinking what you got in front of you!

Quenching your thirst in Brazil is quite easy.  At every coffee house, street stand,  or restaurant there are many options ranging from soft drinks to fruit juices.  I really enjoy trying new beverages and there are some truly new and some of my traditional favorites that have hit the top in this category.  Here is how I rank what I drank.

1) Guarana Soda (What a refreshing splash of liquid whenever it hit my tongue - lights / zero / or regular it all tastes good to me.  This soft drink is made with a fruit "Guarana" which is found in South America.  The Guarana plant is in the maple family and it is actually a vine.   It is the size of a coffee bean and containers twice the amount of caffeine (no wonder I liked it). Brazilians drink more Guarana soft drinks then colas and while I am in Brazil I do too. In the United States you can find this soda at Brazilian markets but I have not seen it on regular supermarket shelves.

2) Peach Juice (Fresh squeezed -- simply pulpalish!  Of course I love peaches, but the juices I have tried stateside often have an artificial taste to me so the first time trying it in Brazil I was impressed.  No artificial here, so for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee, I love ordering this wonderful juice.)

3) Caipirinha (With cachaca (sugar cane rum) - sugar- and lime - how could it not taste good!  Caipirinha is known at Brazil's national drink and at one point almost only found in Brazil.  Today as the world's availability of good cachaca increases,  the drinks popularity continues to grow throughout the world. It is easy to see why all bars, restaurants, and many households in Brazil are ready to serve this delicious mixed drink. Actually I have some sugar cane rum in the US so invite yourself over and lets make some)

4) Pineapple Juice (This one could have taken first prize had I not tried #12 on my list - but the fresh squeezed pineapple just is simply delicious and there is truly a difference in Brazilian pineapple.  So sweet! )

5) Papaya Juice (This is a great taste of a wonderful fruit.  When the fruit is in season the juice is simply magnificent.  I would recommend this drink to anyone visiting.)

6) Acerola Juice (This juice is made from the fruit Acerola which is very similiar to a cherry.  Red and sweet and full of vitamin C.  It is said to have thirty two times more vitamin C then orange juice.  The juice is simply a great drink for an afternoon break)

7) Orange Juice (Normally, I am just not a fan of the orange juice but they squeeze it fresh everywhere you go in Brazil.  Sometimes you have to add a little sweetener but most of the time the oranges are sweet enough so it makes a great juice.  In the US it would not rank so high but here it lands a surprising seventh.)

8) CoCo Water (This juice is extracted (or sipped through a straw) from a young coconut.  As the fruit matures the water is replaced by the coconut meat so the younger the fruit the more water there is.  The water is natural and nutritious.  I am not sure why but did not love this drink as the taste was OK.  Honestly for some reason I have a hard time drinking it.  In any park or along the beaches,  vendors are ready with their large knives to slice open the top of the coconut and hand you a straw for a refleshing swig.  I don't think I will crave this drink -  I would however drink it again if offered)

9) Chopp - (I am not sure I really know what the difference is between beer and chopp and I am not a huge beer drinker - but in the heat of Brazil it is certainly refreshing and can be found all over the country.  Chopp is served in a glass either with or without head.)

10) Coffee - (Another drink I am not a regular drinker of and a stop at Starbucks falls low on my list of things to do.  Coffee had to make the list as we stopped for coffee at least once a day.  I did have a cup of java from time to time and Brazilian coffee is good, but hey -coffee is coffee - black - hot - and in need of a little sweetener)

11)  Coke Zero (Surprisingly this one did not make the top ten but I really miss my diet coke!  When I just need to have a fix of the Atlanta based product the Zero will just have to do.  This is one time the real thing (diet coke) just out performs the substitute (coke zero) but I am not sure I can get the real thing  in Brazil?)

11) Cashew Juice (This drink is made from the fruit that is the great partner of the cashew nut.  I still have not tried this juice during the fruits optimal season.  However, what I have tried is good but a little starchy for my taste buds.  On a side note, I am always amazed how many people have no idea (me included) that the great cashew nut is partnered with a fruit which can be turned into a drink.  I do look forward to trying this again when the fruit is in season)

12) Lemon Juice - (Lemonade you ask?  But in Brazil like other juices it is freshly squeeze and limes are lemons.  I never know if I am getting lime or lemon juice and I just could never get it to the sweetness factor I wanted)

13) Pineapple mint (Sorry -- a flavor I just did not find tasty even though it is regularly ordered at the table I am sitting at (for my friends) - a touch of mint in the refreshing and sweet pineapple juice that ranked higher on my list.  Need I say more?)

I do think this category has a lot more drinks to explore and add to the list.  Brazil is a country full of fresh fruits and loves to squeeze the juice out of it.

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