“The leanest palm tree has thick blood”, in the words of the poet Nilson Chaves. This berry, recently labeled a “superfruit” by virtue of its properties, has long been a miracle in the life of forest people. This tree prefers to grow on riverbanks. It is an expression of the generosity of nature, enticing forest dwellers to climb it to harvest its purple fruits.
The açaí berries are harvested and stored in baskets, softened in lukewarm water and then ground into one of the richest pulps in Amazonia. In times of hardship, many were able to survive by resorting to açaí. When jungle cultures vanished as a result of decimation of local tribes, açaí gave everything to those who had nothing.
Açaí, a major ingredient in much of northern Brazilian cuisine, is harvested during the second half of the year. Thanks to the progress attained in conservation techniques, açaí can now be enjoyed all year round and worldwide without sacrificing any of its flavor or characteristics. Thus traditional Brazilian recipes may yet spread to other nations, delighting the palates and nourishing the bodies of distant peoples far away from our tropical rainforests.
To send açaí on its travels abroad means to export worldwide the story of how the forest people encountered this slender palm tree, and proclaim it to a world in dire need of re-learning the meaning of consumption, of learning to respect the producer and working with the preservers of the living forest.