Cooking With Kurma

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Kurma's South American Tour

Cooking With Kurma > Travel Diary > South America

Part Four: São José do Rio Prêto, Brazil

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Day 12 , continued

click for larger imageMy pleasant four-hour flight from Bolivia to Brazil afforded me time to regroup my senses and contemplate my fortune in being able to travel and share my God-given talents with others. I read up on Brazil in my Lonely Planet book, snoozed, and looked out of the window. At one stage, I caught a wonderful glimpse of the mighty serpentine Amazon river stretching below me. Impressive and unforgettable.
 

click for larger imageI was intrigued with the Portugese language the flight attendants and most of the passengers were speaking. It's mellifluous musicality sounded to me like a cross between French, German and Hebrew. Towards the end of the flight, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who explained, in broken-English, that it was rare to find a fluent English-speaking Brazilian.

 

click for larger image A flight attendant offered me a pleasant-tasting, fruity guaraná-based soft drink, Brazil's most popular 'Guaraná Antarctica' soda. Guaraná products (pronounced gwarana, with a long last 'a') have some effects similar to those you can expect after taking caffeine. Guaraná is a creeping shrub native to the Amazon. In the lushness of the jungles where it originates, it often grows to 12 metres high. The fruit is small, round, bright-red in color, each with a strange eye-ball like protrudence, and grows in clusters.

 

click for larger imageThe uses of this plant by the Amerindians predates the discovery of Brazil. South American Indian tribes (especially the Guaranis, from whence the plant's name is derived) dry and roast the seeds and mix them into a paste with water. They then use it much the same way as chocolate - to prepare various foods, drinks, and medicines. Presently, guaraná is taken daily as a health tonic by millions of Brazilians, who believe it helps overcome heat fatigue, combats premature aging, detoxifies the blood, and is useful for flatulence, obesity, dyspepsia, fatigue, and arteriosclerosis.

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