The blog Love Your Translator is celebrating the 24 days in anticipation of Christmas with an intercultural Advent calendar on their Facebook page. Starting on December 1st, every day they are posting a Christmas tradition from one country – it can be a short story, a recipe, or a picture of how people celebrate Christmas around the world.
I decided to take part in it and share Brazilian traditions.
I must admit I had a bit of a hard time trying to think on something particularly Brazilian. We celebrate this time of the year in a very similar way as the US and the rest of the world. We decorate our houses and the streets with Christmas trees, Santa Claus (called Papai Noel), and even “snow” (since it is summer here, we have to improvise); we exchange gifts and have a great dinner on Christmas Eve with the family, in which turkey is also present. However, we do customize our dinner with plenty of fresh fruits and rabanada (Brazilian-style French toast – find the recipe below).
Besides, at this time of the year, supermarkets are packed with panettones (a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Italy). They are most commonly made with candied fruits and raisins, but you can also find chocotones (made with chocolate, instead of candied fruits).
Brazilians also like to play Secret Santa (amigo secreto – secret friend), in which members of a group (at work, or amongst friends or family) are randomly assigned a person (by a raffle) to whom they should buy a gift (the price range is usually established). The entire process is secret, and people only find out who their secret friend is when the gifts are exchanged, usually at a get-together – if not on Christmas Eve. We also have some variations of the game. One of them is secret enemy, in which we poke fun at our friends giving them something unusual, exotic and funny that she/he should never use. Another is amigo-ladrão (thief-friend), in which you do not know who your secret friend is: participants buy generic gifts that can suit both men and women. The raffle is conducted at the get-together, and you can choose your gift from the pile – without unwraping them though. If you do not like what you’ve got, you can “steal” gifts from those who already have theirs. The problem is, if you are one the first, you run the risk of having your gift stolen not only once, but several times. It’s so much fun!
1 medium sweet baguette or 1 medium sourdough baguette
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 -4 cups vegetable oil (for frying, estimated)
Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices on the bias. You should get about 16 pieces. If you have more, adjust other ingredients to compensate. Whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well mixed. Coat bread slices on both sides in the egg mixture, and place coated bread in a shallow pan or pie plate, add any remaining egg mixture to it. Cover with press and seal wrap or foil and place in the refrigerator to soften overnight. Mix together sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl big enough to hold one slice bread. Heat oil in a deep skillet to about 2-inches until it reaches 330F (use a candy thermometer to check). Lift the bread from the egg mixture until it stops dripping, and pan fry the pieces in the skillet on both sides until golden and crispy. Keep the oil hot while frying (check temp), raising the heat if needed. As the pieces are removed from the skillet, drain on paper towels then dredge in the spicy sugar mixture.
Did I forget any other Brazilian tradition? Would you like to share your family/region/country’s tradition? Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear your stories!