I officially love Brazil. I haven’t seen anything much yet, and I’m in Brasilia, the rather boring, fully-planned capital city (laid out in the shape of an airplane), but there is coconut water everywhere. A raw foodie heaven! The picture above is fresh coconuts for sale at a supermarket, where they will lop off the top and insert a straw for you. They also had a pitcher of fresh coconut water at breakfast this morning at the hotel– a much better start to the day than coffee!
In addition, there was also soy milk at breakfast, so I was able to make myself a nice little bowl of oats and fresh fruit. Another thing in abundance in Brasilia (so far) is fresh-squeezed juice. There were 4 choices at breakfast, and there has been several kinds everywhere else I’ve been since.
Given the incredible variety of fresh fruits that grow in Brazil, I was a little bit disappointed by the offering at breakfast. Luckily, I made up for that later when I picked up cashew fruits (yes, fruits, not nuts) at a grocery shop. They’re kind of cute, actually, with the nut sticking out of one end.
I’m at a bit of a loss to describe the flavour of the cashew fruit. It’s very juicy, mildly sweet and has a kind of custard-like (if slightly stringy) flesh. I really liked it. I didn’t even try to open the nut, as apparently it’s surrounded by a weird sour liquid with cyanide (?!) in it.
I also picked up another wonderful tropical fruit, graviola. Apparently it’s called soursop in English (which I’ve never heard before), and guanabana in Spanish (which I did know). It’s crazy and spiky on the outside but sweet and juicy on the inside, with a flavour that kind of approximates a really juicy pear. So good!
As if the coconut water and soy milk at breakfast and the great tropical fruits in the shops weren’t enough, I also spotted condensed soy milk in the shops. Sadly, I didn’t get to try it yet but I most definitely will.
Then there was lunch… thanks to various helpful websites (including this one), I came prepared with a list of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Brasilia. So I checked out Girassol’s vegetarian lunch buffet. Heaven! They had loads of raw options in addition to cooked ones, everything on the buffet was clearly labeled and of course they had nice fresh juices.
I went nuts, of course, and piled up my plate with all sorts of wonderful vegan food. How could I resist?
I had mixed greens and sprouts, broccoli with tofu, green bean salad, apple salad, tabbouleh, beans, stuffed aubergine (eggplant/brinjal), and some kind of grain that I can’t quite remember. It was all delicious. And even the place settings espoused a philosophy of ecologically conscious eating:
On top of the wonderful lunch buffet, Girassol had a little shop with organic and natural products.
And in case all of this isn’t enough to convince you that Brasilia is wonderful and remarkably vegan-friendly, here’s one more reason. Even at a Churrasco restaurant– basically a meat joint– I found a salad bar that would put most salad bars in other cities to shame. I filled up a big plate (twice) with lovely greens, grain salads, marinated veggies and enough vegan goodness to not mind (too much) the crazy amounts of meat moving around the restaurant while I ate.
Check out the hearts of palm and artichoke. And the red rice was amazing. I can’t really recommend going to a churrasco place, but if you happen to find yourself at one, don’t despair. There’s plenty of veg to graze on while your dining companions eat the “whole farm”, as it were.