Virtually unknown outside of the Amazon two decades ago, and not exported from Brazil — the major producer — until 2000, açaí berries have become famous around the world, riding the wave of the antioxidant craze and rain-forest chic.
Just a few years ago, farmers had trouble getting rid of the açaí that grows.
Diego Lopes, a 21-year-old açaí processor in Brazil, says he has açaí with lunch and dinner every day. “Fifteen years ago, it was like beans for us,” he said. “Now, it’s more expensive than beans."
“Think of it as a cheeseburger,” Mr. Lopes said, explaining to an American reporter. “You can’t have a meal there without a cheeseburger, right?”
The velvety texture of the thicker varieties is wonderful, but the taste is more — how to put this? — earthy. O.K., it tastes like dirt. Making matters worse, the manioc flour that’s often mixed in to thicken it has the consistency of sand.
Açaí, a Global Super Fruit, Is Dinner in the Amazon. NYTimes, 2010.
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.