How Much Do You Really Know About Açaí?

How much do you really know about Açaí? Click into our tasty and entertaining guide to Brazil's Superfruit. Umm, how do you pronounce it?

AÇAÍ IS BRAZIL’S SUPERFRUIT
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

I’ve loved Açaí for many years; well before my debut album Legacy And Alchemy and my first visit to Brazil, but before Connectbrazil invited me to join them as a Celebrity Contributor, I had no idea about why Açaí is Brazil’s Superfruit. Over the past 30 year, this centuries-old Brazilian berry has gained a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s greatest superfruits, even challenging Bossa Nova as Brazil’s best-known export.

by Alexandra Jackson

 

1First, let’s learn how to say it.


Açaí is Portuguese, derived from its indigenous namesake, acai of Brazil’s Tupi–Guarani, meaning “fruit that cries water”. It’s said that the words petunia, jaguar, piranha, tapioca, jacaranda, carioca, and capoeira also come from the Tupi–Guarani language. So, why not take a quick lesson from Late Night’s Seth Meyers on how to not pronounce it? Seth’s bit on Açaí begins at 1:52!  🙂

 

2So… what is it again?

The Açaí berry is small and round and when ripe, takes on a rich, deep-purple color. The Açaí palm tree comes from the same family of palms that give us those delicious Hearts of Palm for our salads. Today Açaí palms can be found in Trinidad and other parts of South America but make no mistake: Açaí is native to Brazil.

 

3Okay, so Açaí is Brazil’s Superfruit. Where did its popularity come from?

Image: Original by Celso Tissot (Creative Commons ND 2.0)

Well for that, you’d have to travel to Belém, near the mouth of the Amazon River to ask a street vendor for Açaí na tigela (“Açaí in the bowl”). Today, this creamy, frozen treat of mashed Açaí berries is a tasty staple throughout Brazil, usually topped with granola, banana or other fruits, and with a generous splash of guaraná syrup. There are variations north to south, but this is the combination that left Brazil during the 1980’s to head even farther north…

 

4…and how did it get to America?

Image: Original by Michael Shen (Creative Commons ND 4.0)

Some folks say Hawaii was the Açaí bowl’s first port-of-call. Then trade winds (or really smart entrepreneurs) carried it to California’s West Coast and rest of us by adding this tasty Brazilian concoction to the menu boards of countless juice bars coast-to-coast.

 

5Frozen delight? Açaí is Brazil’s Superfruit!

Image: Original by Marco Verch (Creative Commons 2.0)

Then Açaí found its way in to smoothies, shakes and your daily wake up routine. HuffPost says: “Acai bowls look like ice cream, almost taste like ice cream, and make you feel good about your breakfast choice. It’s what breakfast dreams are made of.” But you can tell by the spelling that they don’t know how to pronounce it. Hey, Huff: It’s Açaí! 🙂

 

6And of course, there’s a song about it. In fact, it’s a classic!

In early 1982, Djavan headed for Los Angeles to record his fifth studio album, LuzBesides hits like ‘Pétala’, ‘Sina’, ‘Capim’ and ‘Samurai’ (with Stevie Wonder) was ‘Açaí’. In the lyrics of the song Djavan sings about waking to a new morning in Brazil. The English lyrics keep that theme: “Morning sun, on the rise; A breeze rolls in from the ocean, describes an emotion…”

‘Açaí’ was originally a big hit for Gal Costa, from her Fantasia album a year earlier.

  • Alexandra Jackson in Chicago: Catch a rare Sunday evening Brazilian jazz set with Legacy and Alchemy’s Alexandra Jackson at Andy’s Jazz Club, 11 East Hubbard in Chicago at 7 pm this Sunday evening. (312) 642-6805

Here’s What’s Next

So, Açaí is Brazil’s Superfruit but is it yours yet? Share your açaí stories below!

Next week, I’ll share a few tasty recipes that’ll make it easy to bring açaí to your table! Meanwhile, i’d like to invite you to learn more about my album Legacy & Alchemy.

And visit my StoryStream on Connectbrazil.com’s homepage for my latest stories, videos, posts and more!

Love,

Alexandra