Fruit in Brazil

By Rob Packer

Your first trip to the juice shop in Brazil is an intimidating experience: firstly, the range is so large—30 to 40 options seem to be the norm—that trying something you already know seems like a waste. Secondly, you have no idea what anything is, which makes your first problem worse.

A stall in São Paulo's Mercado Público, where you can find every fruit you've ever dreamt again (except durian)

If you learn Portuguese from a Spanish-speaking background, you quickly learn that lots of words are similar and lots of words are very different: fruit names are the latter. You reason, for example, that guanábana and Guanabara, the bay where Rio sits, look pretty similar, so you guanábana must be the Portuguese word, rather than the pregnant-looking graviola. And this is before you get to cajá, caju, guaraná, acerola, or pitanga, some of the many that barely seem to exist outside of Brazil.

As one of the world’s megadiverse countries, Brazil, like Colombia or Mexico, has an incredible range of fruit going from European staples like apples to açaí: it would take years to get to know all the fruit of Brazil, so I’m not going to try; what I will try, though, is to use a few blogs to scratch the surface of the fruit available in the country.

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