This is a plant that produces a harvest of tasty green leaves. They are often compared to spinach and cooked in a similar spinach manner. Amaranth’s gastronomic history is very interesting and unusual. He overcame the path from the main part of the diet to oblivion several times.
Today we will talk about how green amaranth is perceived in Brazil, based on an article published on one of the Brazilian sites.
Amaranthus viridis: in Brazil it is called caruru / bredo
The scientific name of the plant is Amaranthus viridis. It does not indicate that the plant is a member of a large botanical family known as amaranths.
It is assumed that amaranth plants originated in the highlands of tropical North America. Here they were the main source of food for the Indians who lived in this region. For example, Maya, Inca, Aztec.
A little about the history of “Brazilian amaranth”
After the conquest of Mexico by Cortez, the Spaniards, returning from the New World to the Old World, in addition to the treasures and gold taken from the Indians, brought with them new products that had grown only in the Western Hemisphere. Among those products:
- and homemade turkey.
They became a real discovery for Europeans and quickly took leading positions in Spanish cuisines.
Also worth mentioning is the amaranth, which the Spanish and Portuguese researchers, colonists and slavers later transported to Africa, where it flourished and became part of the African diet.
When African slaves were forcibly brought to Brazil to work on sugar plantations and in gold mines, they brought with them not only their food traditions, but also food.
Thus, amaranth returned back across the Atlantic to Brazil, where it became an integral part of the slave diet in colonial times.
Therefore, we can confidently say: the route by which the amaranth became part of the gastronomy of Brazil is extremely long – Mexico – Iberian Peninsula – West Africa and, finally, back across the ocean to Brazil.
Amaranth Journey Around World
Since amaranth arrived in Brazil from Africa, and not directly from Mexico, it is most closely associated with the Afro-Brazilian culinary traditions of northeastern Brazil. Especially worth mentioning is the state of Bahia, where the influence of African culinary traditions is strongest.
In Bahia and neighboring states, plants are commonly called bredo. In other regions of Brazil, it is known as caruru.
Travel plants from Mexico to Brazil is not the only thing! Amaranth then spread widely around the world. From Mexico, he came to India, especially to its southern part, and then to Greece, the Caribbean. By the way, the Jamaican call this plant as calludo.
Amaranth even became part of Indian folk medicine, known as Ayurvedic, where it is used as a medicinal herb.
Urbanized caruru / bredo: Amaranth “attacks” Brazilian cities
Despite the fact that the plant has significant nutritional value, it is so well adapted to the conditions of the soil and climate in Brazil, that many farmers consider it invasive – that is, weed.
He even successfully urbanized himself. Amaranth is often found even in large cities. It grows in abandoned urban areas or even in cracks on the sidewalk.
However, amaranth is actively used in the food industry. Farmers grow it to produce grain used in cooking. From it make porridge and get the flour used for baking.