NYT’s take on açaí in Belém

From The Good Blood, I saw an article she posted from the NYT on açaí from Belém. I’m surprised and pleased to say the NYT writer Seth Kugel did a great job on accuracy in the article, especially when he said the following…

“The velvety texture of the thicker varieties is wonderful, but the taste is more — how to put this? — earthy. O.K., it tastes like dirt. Making matters worse, the manioc flour that’s often mixed in to thicken it has the consistency of sand.”

I’m also glad the writer mentioned Cairu ice cream store because that’s the only place that I found great (cough*Rio style*cough) açaí, even if it was a little more pricey for what you get. Cairu also sells a flavor called ‘paraense’ which is açaí with tapioca balls mixed in, which I personally think dilutes the flavor.

On Eyes on Brazil, I’ve talked about açaí a few times already. You can find out what I think here (in general), here (while living in Belém) and even here (on açaí in the US).


5 thoughts on “NYT’s take on açaí in Belém

  1. Hey, your post popped up on my Google Alert! Thanks for the compliment, glad you liked the piece. –Seth PS I’m working on another piece that involves Cairu.

    • No problem, Seth! It’s just that I routinely see a lot of bad journalism on Brazil and it makes it that much more pleasurable to see a piece that is well-done. On Cairu, I wish someone would adopt their array of flavors here but I know that won’t happen since many are from the Amazon region. What is so sad about the state of ice-cream in Brazil is how many people go for the little McDonalds ice-cream stands inside malls instead of heading for Cairu, then again, I’m sure Cairu is a bit more costly.

      Two nice experiences I had that involved the chain took place in the Boulevard Shopping (the new one) which has a nice big view of the Doca area and the other was in (Estação das) Docas where you can enjoy it on the Guajara Bay.

  2. Foreigners thinking that flour like sand :) It happens more often than not! Now I introduce manioc flour like this, “I love it and I was raised in the stuff, but y’know, you might think it has the texture of sand. It doesn’t for us… But it’s acquired taste maybe?” Just like the liquidy fresh açaí? Farinha quebra-queixo I don’t even offer anymore. Just keep all to myself.

    I think in Rio+SP they have frozen açaí pulp in the juice places, whereas in Cairu it’s açaí ice cream, which I thought it was a different thing. I might be wrong though. Maybe just different names for the same thing?

    It was indeed a lovely piece on açaí! Thanks Seth! Thanks Adam for the kind link back -although I just linked to the article really :)

  3. Sempre brinco que os brasileiros são espertinhos, recolhendo areia e a misturando com manteiga e tal pra vender como farinha, rsrs.

    Acho que o que tem no sudeste por exemplo, é quase igual ao que tem na Cairu, se estamos falando do gosto…mas sim, um é como um “smoothie” enquanto o outro é sorvete.


  4. Speaking of Cairu, it was fun to go to Scoops recently, a gelateria in Greenwich Village. Alongside all the traditional flavors, there was Corn gelato, listed as “Brazil’s Favorite.” Now if I can just get a creme de umbu here…

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