Many of you are aware that Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world and I grew up enjoying Easter Time with my family for so many years that I’ve decided to share what traditions I’ve incorporated into our Easter Family Time!
Friday is a Seafood day only! No, absolutely no red meat! We usually make Bahian dishes, which have strong African and some Portuguese influences. Those dishes are so full of history and soul that I need to explain the story behind them!
Bahia, my home State was the first State of Brazil when it was colonized by Portugal. They brought African slaves to work on the sugar cane plantations and on the engenhos (farms) as domestic slaves. They prayed, sang and cooked their food in the senzalas and carried their traditions later on, into the masters homes. So, from a rich mix of Portuguese and African cuisine was born the so called Bahian Food.
Seafood is the base of this spicy, flavorful blend, that boils, distilling the aroma of dende oil. I often make vatapa, muqueca de camarao, arroz and farofa. Dishes that carry the tradition of centuries and the perfect blend, mild in the farofa and the rice and spicy in the muqueca and vatapa. This year, I’ve made vatapa, ensopado de camarao and rice.
The vatapa boiling, the embodied work carrying centuries of history of sorrow of the slaves, singing their sad banzo songs while stirring their favorite dishes, which were the only memory they could keep in their new life in Brazil. When I make those dishes, it’s more than just cooking. They take me on a journey of the past of Africans, like my great, great grandmother who brought them to Brazil and a not so distant past at my mom’s home, while the same dishes were cooked year after year for so many years!
So amazing that the smell of the Vatapa cooking and peanuts and cashews, along with the spices remind me of all the years we sat in the living room chatting while my dad stirred it for over 2 hours to reach the perfect consistency! Nobody would touch the vatapa, because he had the touch, in his own words! So many memories!
It’s great being able to share these memories with my family, they are a little part of my heritage, of my history, which I hope, will be carried to my son’s second generation and many more.
We also enjoy desserts, typical Brazilian desserts. I am making a cocada this Easter. Like a coconut custard, baked with parmesan cheese, which will be in the oven tomorrow!
The remaining part of the weekend is devoted to American traditions, dying eggs, egg hunt, Sunday service and typical ham and mashed potatoes dinner and pies for dessert. To ensure my son gets the best of both worlds, he receives a Brazilian Egg on Sunday, always large eggs, up to 2 pounds! A must have tradition! Best Part of the Egg Hunt!
Another special aspect of the Easter weekend is our clothing, we dress our best during the family meals and on Sunday service. So we always make sure we have new clothes and fully document it in pictures and videos, to engrave in our hard drives, the memories of those times when tradition is just the background for happy days, family time Latino way!