Jaca

The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus, also known as jack tree, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, in present-day Kerala, in Tamil Nadu (in Panruti), coastal Karnataka and Maharashtra. The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight, 36 inches (90 cm) in length, and 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item in tropical regions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Jackfruit is also found across Africa (e.g., in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Mauritius), as well as throughout Brazil and in Caribbean nations such as Jamaica. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.

(Thanks, wiki*)

Jaca // Jack fruit trees.

Once in a while, hubby comes back from a visit to a farm with a bag of beans or a few BOXES full of bananas, both of which never go to waste as both are part of our almost-daily diet (plus, I’ve also learned to make bananada — banana spread). One day, he finally came home with a jaca (jackfruit). A fruit that I had long heard about, “a prehistorical looking fruit” would describe my husband, but as it is usually too big to eat at once (unless you have a dozen kids to feed at home, ha ha) I didn’t dare buy one at the feira (farmer’s market); Even if they do cut a piece for you, I didn’t know how much to ask for or how to choose the fruit. As it happens, I finally got to try one for FREE and it was a SMALL specimen !  

The small-ish fruit.

I wish I could say “it taste just like chicken”, but, er, not really. It’s really very sweet and, as you can see in the video below, has a lot of fiber. The seeds are quite big so it’s easy to take off, but somewhat difficult to eat in a civilized manner ! I’ve read that there are some sweet or savory dishes with jack fruit in South East Asia. My in-laws told me too that I could prepare it as I do apple sauce without the adding any sugar. I had no idea and should look into it next time we get another one of these monsters! As it happens we ate a bit of it, but I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the fruit that went into containers in the fridge, then ended up as compost in the backyard…

Anúncios

Maracujá

It might be because we are on vacation, or maybe because we have so seldom been with family since we have children… since we are married…since EVER, or simply because I like it here, but I have been daydreaming a lot of living in the neighborhood lately. This morning I escaped the house briefly (leaving the children with their father, uncle, grand-parents, two dogs and five cats), to walk alone to the grocery store. The walkway along the avenue is very pleasant with red flamboyant trees, yellow Ipê trees and the scent of jasmine or camellia (haven’t found out yet). I felt so happy in the sunshine, the temperature was perfect, warm with a light breeze.

SJC (where my in-laws live) is the perfect sized city, in my opinion. It is large enough to have everything one might need (schools, hospitals and an important industrial and research center), yet not as big as the huge São Paulo. Also at driving distance of the megalopolis : not a bad point for a day trip or picking up someone from the international airport. 😉

When I was still dreaming of coming to Brazil, I wanted to be closer to family but couldn’t exactly imagine myself living too close to them.

Now I can. No problem.

Maracujá // passion fruit flower // fleur du fruit de la passion
Muitas frutas! // Lots of fruits…

A força da natureza

Am I getting used to it, or is the paint job on the floor not so bad after all? Note, however, that it graciously goes from green to red-brown to grey… 😆

This house is definitely a step up from the other one. The garden all around the house is fantastic for the kids to run, play, and chase each other while screaming. Ahhh, love this overgrown, messy, wonderful garden!

Palm trees! (Malok-the-cat) Noni trees! Hibiscus! Passion fruit!

As I opened my kitchen window yesterday morning, a light breeze came in accompanied by a delicious perfume. As if on a spell, washing the dishes, a chore that I otherwise greatly dislike turned out to be not so bad after all.

A marvelous perfume. Here some call it “café cheroso” (perfumed coffee) but my G*gle friend hasn’t confirmed that name…

At the market I would have bought half a dozen plants to the flower lady had I not been limited by weight (as usual I had come biking). I ended up coming back home with a erva-cidreira (pretty flowers and really good herbal tea) and some kind of small papyrus that reminds me of mi abuela‘s tiny but luscious backyard in Argentina.

After planting my new finds, my boys and I ate a couple of acerolas from the tree. These little beauties are full of vitamin C – one of them contains something crazy in the ranges of one thousand times the amount of your daily needs. Super awesome fantastical tropical fruit.

Acerola

In the afternoon, I sat in front of the house watching two ara birds play-fight on the highest coconut tree across the street. The wind was still blowing as if about to rain. The boys kept asking for more of the mate that I was drinking.

What a marvelous day. It seemed all the nature around kept reminding me of the main reason we came to this country. I had a smile on my face until bed time.

Who said “exotic”?

Last year, when we arrived in Brazil and staying with the in-laws (in the state of São Paulo), my first outing with my mother-in-law was to go to the market. (You must know, by now, that I really enjoy exploring markets.) I was probably jaw gaping at the many fresh tropical fruits, when I noticed a sign behind the vendor that said something along the lines of “we sell exotic fruits upon request, please inquire here” and all around the sign were amplified pictures of… strawberries, cherries, and pears. :mrgreen:

Yes, “exotic” doesn’t mean “tropical”. I was slowly starting to realize that I had moved to a very different country to the one I had grown accustomed to.

A few months later, we were now living here in Rondônia, I wrote a FB status that said “The world is upside down! Over here lemons are orange and (ripe) oranges are green!”. True. Even “simple” fruits that are grown for exportation, and thus available in Argentina, France and Canada, are simply different here. I constantly have to ask “what is this?” at the market. Not only because I still don’t recognize some of the local fruits, but sometimes because I can’t see the difference between lemons and oranges.

Cupuaçu
Pupunha
Araça-boi
Cacau

***For more “exotic” pictures, it’s over there.

Jambo

In the pictures of the house that we received before moving here, there were some trees at the back of the house, along the side of the church property, that even my Brazilian hubby couldn’t recognize. It happens they are jambeiros or jambo trees. Apparently these trees are of the same family as the eucalyptus, goiava, pitanga (another fruit I recently discovered), and the jabuticaba (previously mentioned).

magic pink carpet

The flowers are funny: odorless and very discreet. They bloom in clutches inside the branches that are covered with leaves (the trees are evergreens). We actually didn’t see the flowers before seeing a pink carpet of petals on the ground and wondering where that come from!

Jambo flowers

The fruit doesn’t taste anything strong or strange or anything exotic at all. In fact, it tastes like pear!

Jambo fruits

The boys really liked it. So much so that after their afternoon nap, when it was in season, they would ask for a “fruit”. The jambo had become “THE FRUIT” in their vocabulary! 🙂

Jambo eating

Jabuticaba

In the series concerning fruits I had never tasted (and sometimes never heard of) before coming to Brazil, here is another one.

(This picture is not mine, click on it for the source)

The jabuticaba (to pronounce ja-boo-tshee-ca-ba) tree is a funny one. The fruit looks like a grape or an overgrown blueberry, but it grows directly stuck to the trunk or branches of the tree! If you don’t know what it is, it’s very strange sight the first time. I thought the tree had some kind of decease!


(This picture is not mine, click on it for the source)

It was in season a bit after we arrived here in September or October, right before the start of the rainy season. However the plant is native to the south of Brazil (states of Mina Gerais and São Paulo), so the fruits here don’t taste as good as they should according to my husband (we think that the dry season might be too dry, too long over here for the jabuticaba). The consistency does remind me of grapes (one of its common name is Brazilian Grape), but it definitely taste like a berry too.

The following video has nothing for it, but the song is very à propos. 😀

If I could name
A fruit for you
It would be jabuticaba
Blue, black and small
On the outside
And soft and sweet within

My favourite memory
Was under that tree
That’s been there since
I was three
Now I would like to
Sing for you
My jabuticaba song

Isn’t she lovely
Like purple rain
Walking on sunshine with you
(over the rainbow)
Quiet nights, quiet stars
It’s summertime
Quiet nights, quiet stars and you

If I could name
A tree for you
It would be
Jabuticaba
Under the shade
Of the cool green leaves
It all comes back to me

So when that taste
Reminds you
You know just where
To find me
And now I would like to sing for you
My jabuticaba song
Jabuticaba tree
Jabuticaba song

*EDIT* Thank you Dr.Caso for your pictures of the molecular food experiment that triggered the following post (I had it in mind for a while now but I needed a kick in the butt!) 😉

Of fruits and languages

Oops. I’ve been meaning to tell all the magical things that are happening everyday over here, and yet it has been a week already since the last post. Oh well.

This morning I heard Natanael say “Bom dia!” for the first time. He was yelling it to some young guy who was arriving on his bike at church. The later whom didn’t hear or didn’t care, but didn’t reply (which is a rare thing in Brazil — everyone likes to talk. a. lot. to strangers). This made me happy-sad for a moment. Some people just don’t know what this means to us! 🙂

Elias and Natanael are both doing a lot of progress on the verbal front. Sure they must still be considered “speech delayed” for 2-and-a-half years olds, but they are learning two languages at a time. Right now Natanael likes to say the words that he knows in French and Portuguese right after each other “voitu’e-carro”, “poule-galinha”, “poisson-peixe”, “singe-macaco” (my favorite ;)) and repeats them many, many times in a row… Repetition is the most basic learning technique, they say. Elias sounds a bit less like a broken record. He does know how to say “não pode!” (can’t do) because he’s heard it so many time said to him (they both play a lot with the twin girls of the other pastor).

Speaking of being polyglot; it’s great and all, but it also generates some irritating comments. For example, on FB I am constantly reminded by the monolingual family members or friends that I’m not writing in their language. Yes, guess what, I have other things to do than to translate every stupid status that crosses my mind in 3 or 4 languages… (Plus there is this thing called “Bing” translator, it’s not great but some friends are using it with surprisingly good results). Sometimes I say something in French (for a more French related thing) and sometimes I say something in English (for teasing my English Canadian friends about the warm weather here, for example), and lately, to add to the mix, I do try to say stuff in Portuguese too (to integrate my new Brazilian friends into my head). What a relief to come back to this blog and be able to share my thought in whichever language I choose.

Changing subject, let me tell you now how I solved a mystery at the beginning of last week.

While I was buying some oranges at the feira (market) some friendly man (everybody is friendly here) came to the stand and asked where I was from, to which I replied that I’m French (because that’s just shorter than telling all my life story). The orange seller naturally joined the conversation adding that she thought I was German because she saw me speaking to dona *** (an old lady from church who sells plants) who is “German”. There are a lot of people of German origin in the area, most of them immigrated from the south of Brazil 40 years ago (the town where we lived was founded in the 70’s) and used to speak nothing else than a dialect called pomerano at home. So when they say “she or he speaks German”, they actually mean pomerano. A couple of old ladies from church are actually very happy that I speak German but we rarely strike a very long conversation because a) pomerano is not the Hoch Deutsch (High-German) that I’ve learned  b) my German is rusty c) old ladies pronunciation, plus the Brazilian accent, makes it extra hard for me to understand them.

I must learn Portuguese (stat!) people, not pomerano.

So, back to my orange story, the friendly guy then asked me if I knew that fruit (showing me). He said the name, which I forgot right away, and threw it in the same bag of the oranges! “You have to try it! It’s very exotic, you’ll see! I love it. Welcome to Brazil!”

I came back home with this mystery fruit among the oranges and asked my very own Brazilian hubby *swoon* if he knew what it was. He had never seen this before! It smelled strange (like dried figs, but stronger), looked strange, and we had no idea how to eat it. So I posted the picture on FB to ask the local new friends.

Some were mistaken and said maracujá (passion fruit), I guess it does look a bit similar, but most informed us that it’s a jenipapo. D thought it stank too much to even try ❗ I made myself some juice with it, as I would with a maracujá, and really enjoyed it. Yum. On top of it all, it seems we have a jenipapo tree in our garden. And it is flowering right now! Yeay!