Ode to Palm Fruit Musical Interlude

20 Jul

After many many years– so many in fact that the only copy I had was on a cassette tape — I recently re-discovered a song by a Brazilian musician I saw perform in Belem do Para in 1995.  I was so excited to find my favourite Nilson Chaves song, Sabor Açai, that I not only bought it on iTunes but looked up the lyrics on Google.

But sometimes a little information is better than a lot.

To my surprise, Sabor Açai is actually about açai, to the point where it in many ways resembles an advertising jingle contracted by some local palm-fruit marketing board.

People in North America and Europe now know açai as a kind of super healthy fruit drink additive, but I seriously doubt how much if any of it is even contained in these po-mo beverages. The comestible is made by scraping the thin purple skin off of hard little berries that grow on racimes of the açai palm, pressed through several sieves and mixed with water to form a lilac-hued paste that is apparently quite nutritious. It is only available during certain brief periods of the year and, like many Amazonian fruits, doesn’t travel well. So in a city like Belem, açai vendors would let people know that they had the viscous foodstuff in stock by putting a small red triangular flag, usually metal, in front of their house or shop. And they would sell it – often in small amounts to prevent greediness — in plastic bags of no more than a litre or two.

I love açai, would always mix it with sugar and easily consume a half or even whole litre by myself, no problem. I have only once or twice tried a manufactured drink said to contain açai and never noticed anything like what I used to get in Belem or Cameta.

But here is Nilson Chaves’s song, in a new video I just found that shows a little bit of the charm and ‘sabor’ of one of the most beautiful places on earth: Amazonia.

(With thanks to ‘ezequieldg’)


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