Guaraná / Brazilian cocoa /Paullinia Sapindaceae

Spooky, eh?
Indigenous to the Amazon region, Guarana is a climbing cine-like bush creeping shrub native to the Amazon (and particularly the regions of Manaus and Parintins). In the lushness of the Brazilian Amazon where it originates, it often grows to 12 m high. The fruit is small, round, bright-red in color, and grows in clusters. As it ripens, the fruit splits and a black seed emerges – giving it the appearance of an “eye” about which Indians tell legends. The word Guarana comes from the Portuguese Guaraná, which has its origins in the Satere-Maue word for the plant, Warana. The people of the Amazon region in Brazil chew Guaraná seeds as a source of energy or drink the powder dissolved in water. The fruit is reputed to be a stimulant and increase mental alertness, fight fatigue, and increase stamina and physical endurance. Brazilians do not eat anything in the morning.   They work hard from sunrise to sundown.  The Guarana drink eliminates the siesta which is the rule in other parts of Latin America.   The custom of taking a Guarana refreshment is little known outside of Brazil. A stick of Guarana is found in most Brazilian homes.  The hard stick is rubbed over a grate to scrape off some powder.  A teaspoon of powder is spread on the surface of a cup of cold water.   As the powder dissolves the reddish-brown solution is drunk by millions of people every morning.

The botanical name for Guarana is Paullinia cupana, named for the German scientist C.F. Paullini who first discovered the plant along with the Guarani tribe in the 18th century. The first record for use for guarana is from the writings of a Jesuit priest in 1669, who traveled to visit the Maure Indians deep in the Amazon. They were using it as a daily tonic that they believed to help prevent malaria and dysentery, a belief that is still held to this day. It was cultivated by the indigenous peoples as far back as Pre-Columbian times, and was first commercialized for use in 1958.

A legend of the Satare-Maue Indians explains why the seeds resemble eyes. A beautiful Indian woman named Onhiamuacabe gave birth to a child sired by a mysterious being. This child was killed for eating some forbidden nuts, and at his burial site, a Guarana bush grew from his eye. According to the legend, the bush also brought forth a child from whom the Maue tribe descended. To the Indians, the seeds not only were a stimulant, they were an aphrodisiac and a means of prolonging life. They roasted and ground the seeds, mixed them with manioc (cassava) meal, and rolled the resulting paste into sticks, which were allowed to harden. Using the rough-surfaced tongue of the piraruc fish as a grater, they broke off small pieces of the dried Guarana paste and rehydrated them in water to make a drink. Guarana is available today in a variety of forms, including a very popular carbonated soft drink of the same name. Fortunately you can find Guarana sodas and powder at any grocery store, including ShopRite Supermarkets, in the international foods section. If you enjoy coffee, then you will enjoy these Guarana pasteles!

Guarana Pasteles

250 g of hydrogenated vegetable fat
1 can of Guarana, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 kg Farina wheat

Knead well, adding the ingredients. Roll out the dough to roll and cut to the mouth of a glass. Make custard with palm and add chopped black olives. Fill and close the crayons. Pass yolks mixed with a little oil on top of the tarts and bake in oven to bake until golden brown. 

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