Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ice Cream - Flavors for the Brazilian Summer

January and February are the two hottest months of the year in most of Brazil - a situation that's 180 degrees removed from the Northern Hemisphere. These are the dog days (canícula in Portugese) of summer south of the Equator. Temperatures in Rio de Janeiro in summer often climb into the 40s - but here we're talking Celsius, not Fahrenheit, and the equivalent of 40C in Fahrenheit is 104. Brazil's hottest capital cities, Cuiabá in the state of Mato Grosso and Teresina in Piauí, have mid-afternoon temperatures that often exceed 110F during the hottest months.

Brazilians are wild about ice cream (sorvete) all year round, but the craziness reaches epidemic proportions during the summer, for reasons that are quite obvious. Line-ups out the door, people walking down the street trying their best to prevent a dripping cone from staining their clothes, kids with smiles a mile-wide and a face smeared with ice cream - these are all signs of summer in Brazil.

During the colder months, Brazilians eat lots of cream and chocolate-based ice cream flavors, but when the thermometer's about to pop, they are more likely to choose a fruit-based flavor. These flavors are sharper and more acidic which somehow makes them more refreshing in the heat. They are also less caloric, and thus don't feel as filling. Most sorveterias (ice cream shops) vary their offerings seasonally to meet the changed demand in summertime and fruit-based options abound.

An article in today's Folha de São Paulo newspaper highlights the summer menu changes at one of the best sorveteria chains in Brazil - Mil Frutas (A Thousand Fruits). Mil Frutas has shops in São Paulo, in Rio de Janeiro and in the coastal resort of Búzios. For the past eight years, it has been crowned the best sorveteria in Rio by the gastronomic guide Veja Comer & Beber. And every summer, it's chart of flavors highlights Brazilian fruits.

Pineapple with cilanto
According to the article, this year owner Renata Saboya has created new flavors that combine fruits and herbs. Two of her new flavors are pineapple with cilantro (abacaxi com coentro) and passion fruit with honey and rosemary (maracujá com mel e alecrim). Additionally, some fruits which are available only during the summer, like jabuticaba, pitanga, and cajá, find a place in Mil Frutas' freezers at this time of year.

The ice cream at Mil Frutas uses the simplest ingredients - cream, sugar, and fruit. There are no preservatives or artificial flavors or colors. It's the essence of summer in a cone (or a cup, or a dish). And it's one of the best heat-beaters on Earth.


  1. How much ice cream does an average person from Brazil eat a year?

  2. According to ABIS, the Brazilian National Ice Cream Association, Brazilians eat an annual 5.2 liters of ice cream per person on a per capita basis. This is much lower than in many European and North American countries - for example, the comparative figure in the USA is about 21 liters.

  3. What is the most popular ice cream flavor in Brazil?

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