Visiting Belém do Pará in the north region of Brazil is an unforgetable food trip. Even for brazilians like me that live in the south.
I had the opportunity of seeing some palm trees bearing fruits and visiting the great Acai Berry Market.
The açai tree is a tropical palm tree of the amazon region and it grows wild in humid areas. Just about 20 years ago plantation started.
The palm trees are very tall and can reach about 100 feet. The only way to get the fruits is to climb up.
This old guy of about 70 years old can climb it up and down like a child and he showed the startled spectators how it´s done.
We got at the market before dawn and the view was espetacular!
The boats were still arriving full of baskets of shiny dark fruits. Some of them reach the market after hours travelling. Most part of the brazilian acai berry is sold here and comes from far away.
The market is very busy early morning and the acai berry is sold by baskets, called "paneira". Each basket holds about 33 pounds of fresh berries and the price varies.
The fruits go bad fast so they have to be processed into a puree and be frozen to reach other cities of Brazil and abroad.
The berries are very hard, have a large pit and only the purple skin and very thin pulp is processed as food.
The seed can be used in jewerly.
To make the purree and then the juice, the berries passes through a machine with a little water or the fruit juice for a thicker product.
The acai puree sold in Belem is the real thing, pure, thick and with a very strong wodden flavour. It´s sold pure and at room temperature.
And it´s eaten with fried fish for breakfast.
Weird, right? Very weird for a carioca like me! Here in Rio de Janeiro, and everywhere else except in the Amazon, acai is found diluted for more profit. It tastes much milder and it´s eaten very sweet and cold with granola, bananas and guarana.