Brazil: The Ugly (or the kinda weird)

Monday, August 8th, 2011 | Travel

Brazil’s dessert landscape has a few more curiosities:

1. Halls (yes, the company that makes your cough drops) are candy.  This realization dawned on me after seeing everyone from street vendors to grocery stores to juice bars hawking them alongside other prepackaged sweets.  At first I thought, “Wow, Brazilians must have 24/7 sore throats or something– ick.”  But then I peered closely and read some of the flavor names, such as “Halls Creamy: Tropical Passion Fruit with Chocolate Center.”  It’s so weird because they still sell the menthol-eucalyptus-cherry-lyptus-honey-horror flavors right alongside the sweet ones, but they just have a higher “Halls Power” rating of, like, 5 out of 5 for “extra forte-lyptus,” rather than a 1 out of 5 for “Halls Creamy: Strawberry Cream.”  Do you think Brazilian kids beg for them when they’re <cough> sick like my brothers and I used to beg for completely ineffective cherry Ludens?

2. Just like the Brits, Brazilians just loooove biscuits.  I would say that this love is similar to Americans and their cookies, but it’s different: there are several chain stores that are literally devoted to biscuits, Casa do Biscoito being one of them.  Inside these yellow-hued wonderlands, you’ll find enormous, heaping towers of biscuits in every kind of packaging imaginable, from rolls to boxes to sacks.  It’s a feast for the eyes, if not necessary the palate.  Are wafer-based items included?  You betcha.  What would the rest of the world do without their wafers?  Despite looking down my nose at them as a young dessertatarian, because I thought they were too cheap and light to be proper sweets, I have now come to appreciate their subtle charms and pleasant crunch.  The wafers I tried from the Casa, however, sent my development back about a year, as I tried to go for the chocolate flavor, and, as already discussed in a previous post, found them to be totally unsatisfying. I also had to close my eyes during each bite for fear that some of the wafer shards would come flying up and blind me.  On the other hand, they were so dry that the billions of crumbs that ended up in my lap just blew right off when I got up.  I hope I didn’t blind anyone around me, though.

3. Do you like vaguely sweet corn pudding?  Because the Brazilians do.  It’s a typical street vendor food that you might think is the aforementioned quindim, but it’s more yellow-yellow what with the corn, rather than eggy golden-yellow.  It’s called curau and comes in a dry-ish form wrapped in a corn husk, tamale-style, or in a cup for the wetter version.  They both taste… fine… just fine.

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