September 29, 2006

Warmer Days Ahead

Sometimes I still have a hard time accepting that I live in inverse seasons to those I spent my entire life experiencing. It’s a sort of seasonal dyslexia. The end of September should be a time for sweaters, lengthening shadows and a shopping bags filled with at least 4 types of apples. But instead the days are getting longer, I'm wearing sandals and while the plants never really loose their green here, seasonal things are starting to bloom again. The streets are filled right now with peddlers pushing wheelbarrows overflowing with a special fruit called jaboticaba.

It is only ripe in the spring, when it sprouts in wart-like clusters on the spiky trunks of the jaboticaba tree and poor farmers and rural people from around the city bring it into town (probably on a horse and cart) and sell a can (lata) for $1 real. It’s quite unusual, looking like a black cherry on the outside but the inside meat is white. It is sweet, not at all tart, somewhat grape-like in texture and has several large seeds in the middle. Can’t really say I’ve ever tasted anything similar – maybe a mix of ripe banana and a golden delicious apple.

C always says that Dharma has jaboticaba eyes (when you can see her eyes.) Now I know what he means.

The other marker of spring here is the return of the sabiá, the national bird of Brazil which looks (to the layperson like me) a little bit like a drab robin. In English I think it is called a rufous-bellied thrush. While the US has its fierce majestic eagle for a mascot, Brazil picked this plain, unremarkable looking little bird. It seems kind of strange until you hear them sing, which they do non-stop almost drunkenly from morning to night in long looping melodic cycles. There are several species of sabiá and the songs differ a lot even within the same species, but they are always several phrases long, sometimes 15-20 notes, and with a loud, surprisingly catchy musicality.

Brazil of course has a sublime musical tradition, and I guess with its nomination of the unassuming little sabiá as a symbol of pride, you can see what matters to them.

(By the way, I have a video of a sabiá singing that I shot recently in a park. I was all excited to jump on the bandwagon, and start linking videos here on my blog, but after almost a week of trying to get this damn little 30 second video uploaded, I've finally given up. My relatively fast connection speed (for Brazil) is apparently just too slow for video upload. Oh well.)


Well since I first wrote this entry almost a week ago and then futzed around with youtube forever, that giant bowl of jaboticabas started to go off and even Dharma couldn't deal with the fruit fly infestation in the kitchen (thanks mom, I will try the bowl of vinegar trick). So today I found a recipe on a brazilian website for making jaboticaba brandy. It's currently a stinky sugary fermenting mess. I'll let you know how it comes out...

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I wanna try the jaboticaba before it has alchohol in it. And you have to tell me about the bowl of vinegar. Do you just leave a bowl out in the same room and the fruit flys die, or leave because they dont like it? or what happens.