Saudades de bananas

Saudades est un mot  en portugais qui se pert un peu en traduction. On le dit à ceux qui nous manquent — Saudades de você, mais aussi quand on se souvient d’un moment ou une sensation du passé. En portugais ce sentiment n’est pas forcément mélancolique, ou nostalgique, ou triste du tout, et en fait on peut dire saudades de n’importe quoi. Dans mon cas, ces jours-ci, j’ai eu saudades das bananas do Brasil

Uriel devait préparer une présentation orale sur “un système végétal vivant” (une plante, quoi); et bien sûr, fidèle à lui même, il a choisit la banane (ou plutôt “le bananier”) (il aime la couleur jaune et tout ce qui l’accompagne). Alors du coup, je me suis chargée de lui rapeller de toutes les différentes bananes délicieuses que nous mangions au Brésil, banana ouro, banana maçã, banana da terra, banana prata (ma préférée — plus petite que la banane d’exportation, mais plus ferme, plus savoureuse et plus sucrée). Toutes bien meilleures que la seule et unique banana nanica (celle d’exportation) que nous recevons dans tous les pays non producteurs de bananes, cueillies bien trop verte, trop pâteuse et moins savoureuses. Quand nous habitions en Rondônia, il n’y avait pas grande variété de fruits tempérés (quelques rares pommes un peu tristes), mais il y avait abondance de fruits tropicaux locaux: bananes à longueur d’année, mangues (seulement de novembre à décembre), abacaxí (ananas) (des fois), maracujá (fruit de la passion), noix de coco, papayes, goiaba (goyave), avocats (plus gros et plus doux que les Hass avocados qu’on reçoit en importation, et d’autre fruits dont vous avec probablement jamais entendu parlé :

Banana prata
Régime entier de bananes
Préparation de la bananada.
Cueillette de Jabuticaba


Cacau (fruit du cacao)


Cajú (fruit du cajou)

acerola (super fort en vitamine C mais curieusement pas acide du tout), cupuaçú, jabuticaba, pitanga, jambo, pitanga, araça-boi, graviola, noni (le fruit de la mort qui pue), manga, mamão (papaia), cajú…

Tous ces fruits m’ont rappelé une jolie chanson que les enfants ont écouté souvent, il y a quelques années, et qui sans le vouloir, fait maintenant partie des la trame sonore des nos années au Brésil.



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…


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.


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.


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


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


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
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!) 😉