One was with the jackfruit, or jaca. The jaca grows straight from the tree trunk on a short stem, which can support a fruit weighing 40 lbs.
I bought a little one weighing about 20 lbs. at my Ipanema neighborhood’s open-air market and dug into it with a knife. The edible pulp is white and comes away in sections separated by a fibrous material, each section holding a large seed. I found out about the natural glue in the fibrous parts, It stuck my fingers together and I couldn’t separate them until that evening until finally the glue decided to let go of me. But the pulp is sweet, tastes a bit like lychee, and Brazilians like it stewed and eat it with chilled fresh cream.
Next, I came home with cashew fruit. The caju grows on an enormous tree and the nut, which is actually the seed, grows outside on the bottom. The seed is encased in a shell. Eager as always, I peeled away the shell and got some oil on my hands. Within five minutes my hands swelled and welts rose up on my face. When my husband came home he looked at me and said, “Mary is arriving tomorrow.” Mary is my sister-in-law. We were meeting for the first time
And THEN there’s the jaboticaba. It looks much like a dark cherry, with white flesh and a strong flavor. It isn’t a favorite of the Brazilians but again, can be eaten stewed with lots of sugar. They DO eat uncooked fresh fruits, though. A big jaboticaba tree grew outside the American School of Rio de Janeiro where I worked. I parked my white VW Beetle under it every day. When ripe, the jaboticaba start falling like rain. And that was why that parking spot was mine, all mine. My Beetle had purple splotches on it for weeks.
Here's a recipe for my favorite Brazilian cake:
BOLO DE FUBÁ e COCO
(Cornmeal & Coconut Cake)
1 cup flour
2 cups finely ground cornmeal
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup milk
6 oz. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. baking powder
Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add coconut cream and mix well. Sift together flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Pour the batter into a greased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour (1-1/2 hours if you use a regular round cake pan. Top with coconut flakes or nuts or furballs. Enjoy!