So what if they lost to Germany this year. Brazilians, those from the land of futebol, carnival, and samba, have firmly established themselves on the Vineyard. The evidence is everywhere, from a selection of Portuguese books at the Oak Bluffs library to bilingual signs and ATMs. The birth announcements in the Vineyard Gazette speak of Manoels and Marias. In addition to several designated churches, there is a Portuguese Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea.

Most important, for me at least, our food possibilities have definitely improved. You can now find manioc meal and jilo and okra, and a variety of previously unavailable chiles. There is a Brazilian store in Vineyard Haven that sells piping hot pao de queijo if you arrive at the right time, and passion fruit, mango, and guava juices can be located as well. Among other places, the Tropical restaurant on Beach Road sells prepared Brazilian meals by
the pound. Even staid Reliable Market on Circuit Avenue has a sign tacked on the wall of the butcher area under the pictures of Pacheco grandchildren that lists the cuts of beef and pork in English and Portuguese.

With the influx of culture from the land of Maria Bethânia and Gilberto Gil, it’s not surprising that Island liquor stores are stocking cachaça, a cane spirit that is Brazil’s answer to rum. Our Market and Al’s Package Store carry four brands, Jim’s carries three, Your Market weighs in with two, and MV Wine and Spirits offers one. The Leblon brand from Minas Gerais is a favorite, as that state is home to many of our Brazilian Islanders.

Cachaça, the national beverage, is distilled from the sugar cane that is cultivated in the nordeste, or northeast, region of the country. Like rum, it can be an industrial strength, throat-burningly-raw working man’s beverage with the kick of a country mule. Or, also like the Caribbean beverage, it can be small batch-distilled into a brew smooth enough for sipping. It turns up in seedy bars where a bottle costs the equivalent of a quarter, and in Rio’s fanciest nightclubs where it is mixed with lime and sugar into Brazil’s national cocktail: the caipirinha.

It’s simple to prepare and deceptively delicious. Beware, though, more than two and you may find that you start to think you’re the girl from Ipanema.



Makes one

• Half a lime cut into wedges

• 1 teaspoon superfine sugar

• 2 1/2 ounces cachaça


Place lime wedges and sugar into an old fashioned glass and muddle using a pestle or wooden spoon. Add the cachaça and fill with crushed ice. Stir well and serve.