The local Bompreço here in Salvador’s Barra neighborhood offers the typical slate of big grocery chain items: dairy, produce, meats, kitchen utensils. But remember we are in Brazil, home to a wide range of produce items not typically available in the United States, or elsewhere in the world. So today on ETW we are starting a series called “Adventures in Brazilian Produce,” where each week we sample a new and exciting fruit or veggie from our local grocery store or market.
Umbus, known as Brazilian plums outside of their native homeland (though I’ve never seen them), are sold as snacks by street vendors all over the city. They grow in small bush-like plants in the sertão, and are sold all over Brazil. They are typically sold unripened, slightly hard and green, looking something like an oversized green olive. Let them ripen a few days and they turn a greenish-yellow, with a soft and slightly squishy texture, and then they are ready to eat. I learned the hard way not to eat the skin, which is tough and bitter. Cut around the edge and peel in off, then suck out the juicy/fibrous (think like a peach) insides. Suck on it, chewing around the small seed, and the taste you get is a fascinating juxtaposition of sour and sweet. As I described it to L, it was as if as mad scientist spliced a sour apple with a sweet red grape. But be careful not to let them over-ripen, as they turn back to being bitter and unpleasant. Besides eating them plain, umbus can also be made into a wide assortment of juices and jams.
Next week: Cashew fruit. Yes, a cashew “nut” comes in a pod attached to a big fruit. I was shocked too.