This recipe is courtesy of guest blogger, Carly.
This Friday, February 5th, marks the first day of Carnaval – one of the most baccanalian holidays of the year. It usually falls between February and March and precedes the Catholic holiday of Lent. Lucky for me, I got to celebrate Carnaval in the city known for hosting possibly the largest and most festive celebration in the world – Salvador, Brazil!
Salvador, Brazil boasts the street party to rival all street parties, where trios or trucks with massive sound systems parade throughout the city with the best musicians in tow. The celebration lasts six full evenings, and patrons have a few options from where to enjoy the festivities:
1. One can pay for an abada (t-shirt), which will allow them to exclusively parade with a designated truck in a bloco and be separated from the masses of the general public;
2. One can pay to sit in a camarote on the sidelines, watching the trucks pass by from the safety of a hotel or business with ample access to food and drink; or
3. If you are broke like I was, you will opt to pay absolutely nothing and enjoy the street party with the masses!
To be frank, I don’t recall eating as much as I recall drinking. The party runs from 6 PM – 8 AM which means sleep occurs in the daylight hours. Once one heads out for the night, there really is no turning back. That is, unless you want to wait until 8 AM when the city’s municipal cleaners are bleaching the streets. However, there really is no reason to head home since regional street foods in Salvador, like acaraje (black eyed pea patties deep fried in palm oil with crispy shrimps), pasteis (fried meat pockets), and meat skewers are plentiful and sold throughout the evening.
During my time in Brazil, I was staying on the bottom floor of a local gym that was comfortably outfitted with a mattress, a locker, a bathroom, and an open air kitchen, where I made pão de queijo, aka Brazilian cheese bread, for breakfast before heading out to the streets. This simple bread made from parmesan cheese and tapioca flour, sustained me throughout the six-day celebration. Although it’s not an exclusive Carnaval food, everytime I eat pão de queijo, it brings me back to the lively streets of Salvador and festive memory of Carnaval.
Pão de queijo (Yield: 2 dozen)
2 cups of polvilho azedo*, or manioc starch
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
salt to taste
*Note: polvilho azedo can be found at most Portuguese or Brazilian grocery stores. Make sure it is “povilho azedo,” and not “povilho doce.”
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the cassava flour in a bowl. Cook water, milk, oil and salt in a pan on low heat. Once liquid reaches a boil, take off the heat and pour over the bowl of cassava flour. Mix until well-combined.
- Add the cheese and eggs to the mixture and begin to mix with your hands.
- Once the dough is combined, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.
- Cook for 10–12 minutes until brown.