I thought I loved acai after living in Rio, where every corner shop sells tall plastic cups overflowing with the deep purple sweet icy slush made from the juice of acai fruit (harvested from a variety of palm tree). It turns your mouth temporarily purple, making people all around Rio look like they’ve got rotten teeth.
Then I came to the Amazon, where the acai palm trees actually grow, and I learned from the locals what the drink can really be: much less sweet, a bit more bitter, and always mixed with your choice of condiments: peanuts, cashews, granola, bananas, tapioca, condensed milk, corn flakes (brilliant texture).
And the acai itself varies as well around the Amazon. These first two photos are from Rio Branco, where the acai tends to be more creamy — kinda like soft serve ice cream — and always served with heaping quantities of condensed milk (which looks gross but is surprisingly good each time).
Below, this tall cup was in Manaus, which serves up a sweeter, grainier acai that’s often layered between thick ribbons of peanuts and granola. The final photo is in Parintins, which serves an icier acai in this case more like a breakfast parfait. Be warned: each of these bowls of acai packs 500 – 1000 calories (depending if you lick up all the condensed milk).