Friday, January 13, 2012

This Week in Unnecessary Local Food Trends

As regular readers of Flavors of Brazil know, the blog is a firm believer in the benefits of eating locally - that is eating food produced in relatively close proximity to where it is eaten. For many reasons, it's generally a good thing - the food is fresher, tends to be less expensive because of reduced transportation costs, and it's more authentic, among other good reasons.

However, last night at a party we were introduced to a product that certainly must be described as local, as it is manufactured here in Flavors of Brazil's hometown, Fortaleza. But we're not sure that it's really all that relevant that this drink, called Forró Power, qualifies as being part of our "100 Mile Diet". We did find it kind of fascinating nonetheless, and worthy of an article in the blog.

Forró Power is an energy drink - that is, it's a locally-produced variation or imitation of Red Bull. Sweet and sugary, it carries a potent stimulating kick. It's "power" comes from caffeine, guaraná and assorted other herbs. Energy drinks typically have three or four times the stimulating effect of coffee or Coca-cola. In flavor and effect, Forró Power is no different than any of the other energy drinks on the market.

What makes Forró Power interesting, though, is not the fact that it's made locally in Ceará, but more the way the manufacturers have decided to market it with a distinctly local name and advertising campaign.

 The name Forró Power was chosen to appeal to fans of an energetic style of music and dance that originated in this region of Brazil and which is  the most popular music style locally even in this day of international music stars like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Adele. The word forró itself (pronounced foh-HO) has a unidentifiable etymology (click here for more) but the music has been popular in northeastern Brazil for close to eighty years. Forró dances, held in large halls similar to country music venues in the USA, draw thousands of fans weekly. Dance floors hold hundreds of couples at a time, and Forró events carry on all night, ending only when the sun comes up.

To give the blog's readers who might not be familiar with forró some idea of what it's all about (and why dancers might need an energy boost at 4 am!) here are two videos from YouTube. The first one shows the more traditional style of forró, which is referred to as the Pé de Serra style. Pé de Serra means "foothill" and refers to the rural origins of the dance in the mountainous interior of Brazil's northeast. The second shows modern pop forró, electrified and sexed up. The intended market for Forró Power is definitely the fans of this genre. Dancing all night at this speed requires a lot of stamina, which is maybe why Forró Power doesn't come in small 6 oz cans like Red Bull does - it delivers a full liter (about a quart) of caffeine-induced stimulation.

Pé de Serra  forró


Pop forró

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