Non-alcoholic drinks in Natal
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There are coconuts trees all over the Brazilian Northeast, both natural and cultivated.
Coconuts can be eaten or drunken.
If allowed time enough in the trees, the coconuts will develop a white pulp inside. The shells are broken (in this case, shells have that brown color), the pulp is removed and can be used for some purposes. You can eat the coconut pulp. Gratted, the coconut is used in several candies. Factories produce a coconut milk, with several uses in cooking.
Green coconuts provide a delicious juice; just punch a hole in the coconut and drink the juice straight away (no need to sweeten); it's natural, healthy drink. There are coconuts stands all over Natal, prices vary from as little as R$ 0,25 in popular streets to R$ 2 in posh hotels and restaurants. Make sure you have it as cold as possible; avoid the yellow coconuts; don't be impressed by the size, usually the average sized nuts have more water than the bigger ones. After drinking the water, you can ask the person who sold it to break it in half and scrape the pulp to eat it; notice, however, that the pulp is very greasy.
Guaraná is a fruit original from Amazon. It contains a small percentage of caffeine, so it has energetic properties.
There is a soft drink made out of guaraná, called also guaraná, which is very popular in Brazil; it's the only drink which rivals Coca-Cola in Brazil. Try it.
Some places offer natural guaraná, advertising its energetic properties. It's a mixture of extract of guaraná with several other natural energetic products. You will gain energy; good to stay awake, bad if you are trying to sleep.
Açaí This is another fruit from Amazon which is gaining popularity in Natal and other Brazilian States. Instead of being drank, like guaraná, the pulp of açaí is served in plates, garnished with other fruits and/or products; açaí is also said to be energetic; read
more about açaí here.
Fruits and Juices
There are several fruits which are typical from Brazil (not easily found in other countries), and others which are typical from the Northeast of Brazil (not found in the Southern states). Best and easies way to try them is by drinking their juices. Several places offer only a pulp juice, meaning that the fruit was processed, concentrated and frozen to facilitate the preparing of juice; get the natural fruits, if you can.
Brazilian fruits: maracujá (in English, passion fruit - maracuja is a potent tranquilizer; I used to drink it in moments of stress, and it helped me sleep profoundly; some say that this stress relief has afrodisiac consequences, hence the name passion fruit); acerola (very rich in vitamin C); caju (in English, cashew - actually, the fruit is the cashew nut, which is exported; the caju is an appendice which produces a juice very rich in vitamin C, a sure way to avoid catching cold); pinha, very sweet; pitanga, a cherry like fruit; jaca, a fruit as big as watermelon, but growing in trees - jacas are more usually eaten, but some places have jaca pulp; manga (in English, mango) is sold in juices abroad, but the natural fruit is original from Brazil; jabuticaba is a small black round fruit, looks like grape.
Fruits of Natal: graviola, big fruit, good to eat and make juices; caja, looking like a small orange, a bit more acid though; mangaba; pitomba, not one of my favorites, but appreciated by many; seriguela; poti.
Several of these fruits may be found as ice cream flavours.
Brazilian coffee is famous world wide, but be informed: the Brazilian coffee sold abroad is much better than the coffee consumed in Brazil; this happens because foreign markets are willing to pay more, but demand the best products (btw, the same thing happens with other products - the best Brazilian orange juice is consumed abroad - and with other countries - Colombia sends their best coffee to USA).
Express coffee is better than others, but not every restaurant offers it. Express coffee is found at all the shopping centers. A cup of express coffee costs about R$ 1.
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