The açaí berry is a native fruit from the Amazon forest. It is an important ingredient for the daily diet for the people in the North and Northeast of Brazil. During the ’80s and ’90s, the acaí berry became popular all around Brazil. And nowadays it is easy to see how much Cariocas love açaí!
In recent years, açaí was also introduced to the whole world and became a trendy snack all around the US and Europe. The tropical flavor and aesthetically pleasing array of toppings made everyone fall in love with the açaí bowls.
Nowadays açaí bowls are a hot trend everywhere. But in Rio things reach the next level. So, why do Cariocas love açaí that much?
An açaí bowl or glass goes well with the beachy vibe of Rio de Janeiro. Açaí is a cold refreshing treat people love to eat during those warm days in Rio. The acaí berry can be consumed as a fresh juice, smoothie, frozen pulp, or pureed.
In Rio, the most traditional way to eat açaí is as a smoothie, topped with guaraná syrup, granola, and banana slices.
People from the North of Brazil originally use açaí as a bland paste you can eat during lunch. The açaí berry is pureed and served with manioc flour and fish. However, in other parts of Brazil, especially in the southern regions, the sweet paste is much more common.
Here in Rio, the snack bars make the base of what we know as açaí by mixing the frozen açaí pulp with guaraná syrup. That already makes it really sweet. After that, customers can choose different topping to add to their bowl or glass. Most Cariocas love açaí because it is like ice cream you can eat as a dessert or a treat.
Common toppings include granola, powdered milk, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, banana, strawberry, peanuts, and paçoca. Açaí can also be topped with different kinds of fruit syrup, caramel, and honey.
Good for your health
The açaí berry contains loads of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B2, and minerals, such as iron and phosphorus. Açaí helps to reduce skin aging and improves the immune system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
But wait! A bowl of açaí is only really good for your health when consumed in natura. Most açaí pastes or smoothies sold in supermarkets and bars are already mixed with guaraná or banana syrup — those portions have too much sugar! Make sure to ask for the regular version if you want to fully enjoy its benefits.
You will find açaí in every snack bar in Rio. And there is one snack bar on every corner of the city. So every time you are up to a delicious bowl of açaí, you will easily find one next to you. An açaí bowl or glass with toppings costs less than R$10.
It is also easy to find açaí cafes specialized in açaí. In these places, all the menu revolves around the berry and they have different and special açaí bowls and toppings. In these places, a bowl may cost around R$25.
Gives you energy
If you have ever come to Rio, you might have noticed that Cariocas are very active. It is very common to see people exercising at the beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon, after their work hours. It is important for Cariocas to eat healthy snacks that will boost their energy to help with their workout. Açaí became their best ally.
Açaí provides people lots of energy, helps with muscle contraction and bone health. It also helps with muscle recovery and is incredibly filling, increasing satiety.
Foreigners that come to Brazil usually love açaí as well. You just need to be aware of the calories a bowl of açaí may have. Even though it is a healthy snack, the açaí berry is rich in calories, especially when mixed with guaraná syrup and topped with things like chocolate chips and candy. However, when consumed in natura, açaí may even help with weight loss, since it increases satiety. The antioxidants present in the berry may also help by reducing lipids, bad cholesterol, and glucose in the organism.
Have you ever tried it? Do you think Cariocas love açaí that much? And do you love it as well? Share your thoughts on açaí with us in the comment section!
Caminhos Language Centre is the largest and most exciting Portuguese language school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We offer high-quality Portuguese courses in a relaxed and fun environment. Our methodology is based on the communicative approach and we offer unique course material. Our school is also famous for supporting Brazilian children, having its own social program called ‘Mais Caminhos‘.