Açaí na tigela
|Place of origin||Brazil|
|Region or state||Pará and in some parts of North Brazil; nowadays widespread through the country|
|Main ingredients||Açaí palm fruit|
|Part of a series on|
|Types of food|
Açaí na tigela ("açaí in the bowl") is a Brazilian dessert from Pará and Amazonas, where the ribeirinhos population prepare it regularly. They harvest the berries from the treetops by hand in the Amazon rainforest. It is a dish made with the frozen and mashed fruit of the açaí palm, which has berries that aren't sweet, instead you could describe them as having an "earthy" or creamy taste. Its texture is granular before blending and it has a tartness to it which, combined with a high acidity content, makes its taste an appealing pair to sweeter fruits. It is served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, and is commonly topped with granola and banana, and then mixed with other fruits and guaraná syrup. Although açaí na tigela is popular all over Brazil, in the 1970s  it first started to commercially appear in Rio de Janeiro, after multiple martial artist began using it for training diets. Most notably it was Carlos Gracie, a Brazilian jujitsu practitioner who incorporated the açaí in his fitness "Gracie Diet", which he recommended for his fighters. He saw the benefits of açaí as having "low sugar, full of vitamin and antioxidant content and thought to boost energy" Nowadays, it is mainly in Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Florianópolis, São Paulo, Goiás and along the northeastern coast, where it is sold in kiosks lining the beach promenade and in juice bars throughout the cities. Preparation differs from region to region. Tapioca pearls are a common topping in northern Brazil. The original recipe, as eaten in the North, contains shrimp or fried fish and tapioca or farofa and is usually salty. It was also common to see açaí served with fish and cassava. The sweet variety, which contains granola, banana, blueberry, strawberry, goji berry, and other fruits, as well as sugar, is more common in southern parts of the country. Regardless of the preparation, açaí's purple berries are thought to be a strong superfood of the Amazons. It contains iron, calcium, and fiber as well as have ten times more antioxidants than red grapes.
Açai na tagela is made from açai, a small purple berry that comes from palm trees in the Amazons; mainly in Brazil, Colombia, and Suriname. Although in these place the berry is often used as an antidiarrheal, amongst the scientific community it is considered a superfood for its high antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory benefits, support of the immune system, diminished risk of coronary heart disease, and hypocholesterolemic effect. Its anti-oxidant properties help reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, vascular diseases and aging by diminishing free radicals in the body, or reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. These scientific conclusions have served to advertise açai na tigela as a fitness snack that has "low sugar, is full of vitamin and antioxidant content and thought to boost energy", as famous jujitsu practitioner Carlos Gracie claimed with the "Gracie Diet". When isolating the pulp of the açai berry, a recent pilot study was analyzing the risks of metabolic disorders in overweight subjects, and concluded that with açai pulp, their glucose and insulin levels reduced after 30 days. Another study was doing research on anthocyanins, a compound found in many berries, and found that it can diminish the risk of heart attacks in young and middle aged women by 32%.
Açaí na tigela ("açaí in the bowl") is a Brazilian specialty from Pará and Amazonas, where the ribeirinhos population prepare it regularly. They harvest the berries by hand and make different traditional preparations by incorporating their "earthy" and "creamy" taste into traditional dishes. In northern Brazil, tapioca pearls are now used as a topping but the original recipe wasn't sweet, it was salty and consisted of either shrimp, fried fish, or farofa. It's also popular to find variations with fish and cassava in the north while in southern Brazil, the dish is prepared sweet with granola and other fruits as well. Açai na tagela started to commercially appear in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 1970s by influence of Carlos Gracie. Nowadays, it is mainly in Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Florianópolis, São Paulo, Goiás and along the northeastern coast, where it is sold in kiosks lining the beach promenade and in juice bars throughout the cities. It wasn't until the 1990s that its appeal to the fitness community was grand enough to allow for external management to come into the Amazons and facilitate the extraction process.
Açaí bowls first were imported to the US in the 2000s when Ryan and Jeremy Black, two brothers along with their friend, Edmund Nichols created the company Sambazon after trying the product and Brazil and deciding they wanted to bring it to America. Here, surfers in Hawaii and Southern California immediately included them more in their diets after importations were available and the product grew popularity. The biggest challenge that importing açaí to the U.S. historically and currently poses is that, to eat the berries, they must be soaked in water and then have their pulp removed. This pulp can only be consumed for up to 24 hours which is why the açaí market in America has capitalized on freezing as a method of importation. To freeze the pulp of the berries, they must be taken to a nearby factory after harvest. During this process, both the companies and the native communities profit from harvesting, with new job opportunities either harvesting in the wild or on "minimally managed jungle plots".
For the future, it has been predicted in the Açaí Berry Market report that there will be significant growth between 2020-2027. One of the major reasons for this growth is that açaí berries are starting to be used by the organic cosmetic industry since they promote elasticity in the skin as well as vitamins A, C and E for regeneration. In 2016, the global market for açaí was valued at $696 million dollars but it is expected to climb to $2,285.7 billion dollars by 2026. The global consumption of açaí berries will continue to rise but its expansion won't necessarily be caused by reforming the açaí na tigela dish but by using this superfood to capitalize on its health benefits in other fields, such as cosmetics, protein drinks, and other beverages.
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