(Please click here to read about this series of reposts of original posts from May 24, 2010 to June 12, 2010)
The guarana tree (Paullinia cupana), which is in the same botanical family as the maple, is native to the Amazon rain forest, and is particularly prevalent in the Brazilian portions of that forest. The fruit of this tree was harvested by native tribes of Indians long before the arrival of Columbus and was revered for its medicinal or magical properties. According to Indian legend, one day an evil deity killed a particularly well-loved child. A more benevolent god, seeing the grief caused by this senseless act, plucked the left eye of the dead child and planted it in the forest, where it sprouted into the wild guarana tree. Then it plucked the right eye of the child and planted it in the village, where it grew into the domestic guarana tree. The bright red fruit, with a black seed inside, is considered to resemble an eye, which is probably part of the origin of this legend.
In Brazil, one of the most popular soft drink flavors is known as Guaraná. Although there is a small amount of guarana in these drinks (the caffeine levels are similar to those in Coca-Cola), they are not energy drinks. In the next posts on Flavors of Brazil, we'll discuss these soft drinks.