Saturday, October 21, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--A Brazilian Drink, and a "Brazilian" One

     These are two more beverages bought from a Wegman's grocery.  The first, a cashew concentrate from the dafruta brand (apparently they are modest, or are capitalization contrarians, like poet/author e e cummings), was made in Brazil. For the second, although the label reads, "The Best From Brazil", it's named "Guarana Brazilia," and shows that country on a map, is actually manufactured in New Jersey.  Evidently some of its flavoring is from Brazil, and it's a Brazilian-style, inspired, soft drink.  So that's why I put in quotation marks in the post title.
     Alas, the maker of the Guarana Brazilia, the Crystal Beverage Corporation, does not have a website, so I wasn't able to find out much about them.  Some business-related sites claimed that they employ 16 people, have an annual revenue of $3,000,000 dollars, and have been around for about 34 years.  Otherwise, guarana is a fruit that's common in the Amazon rain forest, and is very popular, especially in Brazil and Paraguay.  The seeds contain twice the caffeine as does coffee.  This helps deter herbivores from eating them.  As such, this plant's fruit and seeds are utilized in energy drinks, usually listed as guaranine.  The seeds and fruit resemble eyeballs, which is why one of the plant's origin myths involves deities creating them using human eyes.  Also, I was amused to see that this drink covers both bases on its sweeteners, as its ingredient list says, "sugar and/or corn sweetener."
     In contrast, dafruta does have a website, although it is rather bare bones.  The brand's parent company is Liberty Imports, out of Allentown, Pennsylvania in the U.S.  It was founded in 1983 by Gloria Negrao.  The company's stated purpose is bringing Brazilian products to the U.S., and presumably the world.  In addition to the one I got, the brand makes various other fruit concentrates,as well as other fruit-based drinks, dried fruit, and crystalized ginger.  The beverage I tried is not made from cashew nuts--rather it's made from the fruit that's attached to the nut, the so called "cashew apple."  This is what botanists refer to as an "accessory fruit."  (Briefly, these are ones whose flesh come from adjacent tissue, and not from the plant's ovary.  Apples and pears are two examples.  Older terms for this phenomenon were "pseudocarp" and "spurious fruit.")  The sources I read stated that the cashew fruit is unsuitable for transport due to its fragile skin.  This explains why it's often seen as a bottled concentrate rather than a fresh fruit.
     But, on to the reviews.  The Guarana Brazilia came in a 2 liter plastic bottle (67.6 ounces). The drink itself was a light brown or honey shade.  It had a unique taste--like a fruit juice, but not a flavor I'm familiar with.  Evidently that's the natural flavor of the guarana.  I thought it was okay--not particularly dazzling, but a respectable drink.
     As for the dafruta cashew concentrate, because it's a concentrate, the label recommends that consumers don't drink the liquid straight. Instead, they advise cutting it with water, at a 1 part cashew concentrate to 7 part water ratio, along with a dose of sugar or other sweetener, to the individuals' taste.  I tried this product in several combinations.  The 1:7 ratio resulted in a rather weak tasting drink.  I preferred 1:2 or even 1:1, for a stronger flavor, and used truvia (stevia, itself a Brazilian/Paraguayan plant) to sweeten it. This brownish-yellow soft drink had a citrus-y flavor, similar to lemonade, I thought.  (Which surprised me--I thought it would taste like cashew nuts, until I read about the whole accessory fruit information.)  As with the Guarana Brazilia, I wasn't blown away by it, but it was alright.  Drinkable, certainly, and solid, but not great.  I give both drinks credit for being at least different from the usual crop of soft drinks, but I don't think I'll be purchasing them again.

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