Tuesday, 12 September 2006

A Berry Exciting Discovery

First it was beetroot, then came cranberry and then pomegranate. Now there's a new super-food in town, believed to be the healthiest fruit on the planet. The Açaí berry (pronounced "ah-sah-yee") is native only to the Brazilian area of the Amazon rainforest. Açaí is a small, dark purple wonder-berry, found to have twice the cancer-beating antioxidants of blueberries.

AçaíAçaí berries are also rich in Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids, which are rarely found in fruit. They are also low in calories and contain fibre, calcium and vitamins. The berry astonighingly contains 33 times the cholesterol fighting "anthocyanin" than a glass of red wine. Doctors say they help to fight leukaemia as well as premature ageing and the berries are even believed to increase libido! The berry has already built up a band of celebrity fans including Oprah Winfrey, Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello, Andre Agassi, the singer Sting and former model Gisele Bundchen.

The Amazon rainforest

Açaí palm treeThe Açaí palm is indigenous to the flood plains of the river Amazon estuary. It regenerates with ease and in areas where human development has destroyed natural vegetation, the first tree that grows in its place is Açaí. The total area of Açaí palms in the Amazon is equivalent to half the size of Switzerland.

AçaíIn its native region, Açaí's abundance and role as primary nutritional resource cannot be over-estimated: it has literally saved many poor families from starvation. If ever a city was so strongly defined by a single fruit, it's Belém. Belém is the Amazon estuary's main city and one of the world's largest exporters of black peppercorns. It is also the home of the Açaí palm. There is a local saying: "Who arrives here and stops, drinks Açaí and stays." In Belém, more of the fruit's juice is drunk than milk! An estimated 200,000 litres of the purple liquid is consumed per day among a population of 1.3 million.

So with its growing popularity among the bourgeois, how long will it be before we see Açaí berries pureéd and whipped with Bollinger into a foam, to be served as an amuse bouche before the langoustine ravioli on a bed on sautéed morels and roquette?

Açaí é uma baga maravilhosa, e eu comprarei o suco assim que eu o encontrar em Inglaterra. era somente recentemente que eu aprendi sobre estas bagas, e eu sou certo que se tornarão muito populares em Grâ Bretanha. Eu daria boas-vindas a todos os comentários dos brasileiros para ajudar correto a minha gramática.


Mike Green said...

A great article, very informative and interesting. Have you tried this berry yourself, or are you just relying on what you have read about it?

Lilandra said...

i had it in my snapple ;-)

Trig said...

This was a very old post, from the days when I was still living in London, but indeed I have tried açaí myself. Unfortunately the berries don't travel, so they are made into a juice which is frozen and can then be transported. I've drunk the juice and used it to make ice cream. You can buy frozen açaí in Organic Alley in Borough Market.

Anonymous said...

I'm going out there soon can't wait to try acai sounds delicious

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