Bigbi in Brazil

The fruit at Bigbi – fluorescent pomelos and papayas, avocados as big as watermelons, and coconuts that splinter open with three thwacks of a machete – is stacked along four shelves on the rear display. Bigbi’s specialty, the thing that sets them apart from every other fruit stand in Rio, are the twenty-eight flavors of fruit smoothies offered on their menu.

My friends and I decide one night that we will drink all twenty-eight smoothies after returning from the Sambadrome, where some of the most colorful and glorious displays of flesh and paper-mâché are on parade.

We do this so the tired men working the graveyard shift will have a story to tell. We do this because fruit is good for us. We do this for no viable reason at all. Take your pick.

When we get to Bigbi, the man who takes our order doesn’t understand what we want. He calls over another man, in Portuguese.

Which of the twenty-eight do you want?

All of them.

All of them?

They’ve never heard this before, so they call over another man, and we repeat this conversation. Their confusion excites us.

With a broad sweep of our hand over the menu, we say, Yes, all of them. The deep purple of the acai—we want it. Mango the same brilliant yellow we would give the sun in our crayon drawings in elementary school—we want it. The guava pulsing with so much color you’d think it was plugged into an outlet—we want it. We want it all, lined up in glasses along the sticky counter.

They begin making our smoothies and start laughing—amongst themselves, with us, and with anybody else who comes up just then to stand under the neon lights in the humid, Brazilian night to place an order.

About the author

Julian Zabalbeascoa recently earned his MFA through the University of New Orleans. He has run with the bulls in Pamplona, run from an irate…

Read the full bio

Issue 03 · February 2009

Table of contents