You see, what I’ve gone and done already is I’ve lied. I’ve gone and called this article ‘The Essentials.’ There really is no essentials and even if there was I don’t think I’d be the person to be telling folk about them. This really is just my idea of some interesting things to bring back from Brazil, or even just interesting things to buy while in Brazil. A few ideas that shy away from the normal Christ statue and Brazil football shirt.
This is quite an obvious choice for me but it’s got to be done. For between 5 and 6 Reais you can pick up a bottle of Velho Barreiro, by far my favourite of the cachacas, or at least of the dirt-cheap cachacas. Plus, as an added bonus it comes in this fancy bottle which makes it seem like a fine rum, or at least something that would cost you up to 20 pounds, not the 2 pounds that it will actually cost you. It’s the perfect gift. The only other alternative for this price is 51, which is pretty good in Caipirinhas but pretty bob for all else.
2. Aviação Butter
This may seem like an odd choice. It is butter after all. But Aviacao butter is like no other. It has one unparalleled asset. On the front of the tin is a picture of a cow with a plane flying above it. You don’t get this with just any butter ya know!
Plus, this butter has a lot of history, it’s a tin that has lasted for many generations of Brazilians, and is something they use a lot. As butters go it’s very distinctive, probably due to the fact that they have added about a kilo of salt into each tin. The best way to enjoy it is with some boiled root vegetables (add it just before eating), i.e. potatoes, parsnips or batatas barao (if you’re in Brazil) and enjoy!
Rapadura is unrefined sugar straight from the sugarcane factories. It’s pretty darn common in Brazil and is also the healthiest way to sweeten anything (or maybe I should say joint-healthiest as jaggery is also pretty good). Even brown sugar and demerera are refined in some way, making rapadura one of the purest you can find. Buying it in Europe and North America is possible but costs a fortune compared to its price in Brazil. Buy a block I say and then whenever you are making something with sugar, simply use a bit of rapadura instead of the usual stuff.
Interestingly, the Germans at some point decided that they’d come up with the name ‘rapadura’ and managed to trademark it, meaning that whenever this stuff was exported from Brazil they would have to cover up the name or design new packaging. A ridiculous situation which I believe has now been resolved, but only after one of the Brazilian sugarcane companies spent years trying to copyright ‘sauerkraut’ to show those Germans what it felt like to have something copyrighted which you love so much!
Wait a second, this one doesn’t involve food. I think I’ve made a mistake! Okay, so maybe there is room for one entry here that doesn’t involve shoving things into my gob. Everyone who goes to Brazil should buy some Havaianas. There are stores on just about every corner selling them, plus there is the beautifully-designed new store on Rua Oscar Freire in Sao Paulo. I bought several pairs; they do make good presents. Anyone venturing to Brazil should wait until they arrive before buying any flip-flops, there is so much choice and they are unbelievably cheap, between 7 and 25 Reais, which equates to between 2 and 8 pounds.
I think that’s about it for now. Maybe I’ll make this a part one if I can think of anything else that I’ve missed. Otherwise, there you have it, a very brief idea of some things that are definitely uniquely Brazilian that you should buy.