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At the Sunday feira in lovely historic Cachoeira, in the state of Bahia, Mom was shopping at the flea market, while I found myself gravitating upstairs to the top of the two-story Mercado. Below, the market was in full swing, with dealers selling fish, grains, fruit, all kinds of tripe and guts (with accompanying smells); upstairs, I discovered countless little barzinhos, where the locals were grilling and drinking and eating and dancing.
There was fresh caju fruit (cashew) everywhere--a particular passion of mine--so I decided to try to get a caipirinha de caju. I shyly went up to a bar that had a bowl of the lush and succulent fruit on the counter, and asked the barman if he could make a caipirinha with the caju. "Claro," he smiled, and a woman took the caju mysteriously to the rear of the establishment. She came back with the fruit on a plate, accompanied by a small glass full of cachaça (the Brazilian national liquor made from fermented sugar cane juice, a staple ingredient of caipirinha).
Feeling like the total gringa, I said, "Mmm, excuse me, but I was hoping you could make me a caipirinha." The guy smiled, with the teeth that he had, and said, "That's how we make a caipirinha. Bite the caju, and then drink the pinga [cachaça]." To howling laughter, I bit the caju, and as it dripped all over my chin, I downed the pinga. Let's just say it took me a while for me to catch up with Mom, a few caipirinhas later.
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