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A writer's embarrassing confession.

Maria Yagoda
August 30, 2017

Acai bowls took off in 2014. Somehow, I missed the window of time where people were explaining what acai is, and now I’m worried it’s too late to ask.

As a food editor, I pride myself on my knowledge of food trends and obscure ingredients. That’s why it’s so humiliating to write this, because acai isn’t even obscure. I’d hoped acai would go the way of bacon desserts, and I would be off the hook, but acai bowls persevere at many of my local cafés, meaning I can’t, in good conscience, not know what they are anymore. But here’s where it gets tricky: I don’t have the emotional energy to ask my barista, or even type the words “what is acai” into Ask Jeeves. So I’ve reached this embarrassing impasse, but I refuse to stay silent any longer.  

Here are some questions I have about acai that I wish I had the courage to ask:

If it’s a fruit, why are you putting it in a bowl like a yogurt? Are you mixing it with dairy, or what? Why don’t we do this with strawberries, then?

Is it a dessert, breakfast, snack or skin cream?

Why is it so expensive?

It looks a bit like chocolate pudding, no?

Are all acais purées, or are all purées acais?

How come it’s green sometimes?

Is acai actually healthy or healthy in that way that cranberry juice is? Like good for one thing—resolving bladder issues—but not much else?

Even if I never get the answers to these questions, I’m relieved to finally open up about this. No longer will I nervously back away when someone mentions acai bowls in the locker room of the gym I don’t go to anymore; no longer will I say, “Oh look, acai smoothies! Love eating that stuff so much,” when I pass a café with a friend, just to throw them off my trail.

It’s still probably too late to ask what it is, though. That’s okay, I think. Brains are only so big, and you can’t know what everything is.