The only things I can cook are eggs and rice. I like everything well done. The crispness and brown color tell me that the food is far from raw, which is not welcome in my belly. This inclination may have something to do with my heritage, since it was the way my mom cooked. And she wasn’t much of a cook. She did basic Brazilian dishes—rice, beans, yucca, grilled beef—mostly rather heavy food, the kind that could use a nap as a chaser. Most of our dishes come from the traditions of Portuguese and African slaves. But everything was organic. I spent childhood weekends and vacations at my grandparents’ ranch, where we barely knew that mass-produced food existed. Even soda was rare, and the treats like doughnuts were homemade.
(With Mom and family; I'm in the red dress)
My mom loved baking all day Sunday to last through the week, and her baking became a party. My cousins and I were put to work mixing the ingredients—hard, sweaty work. Then, while we waited impatiently for the dough to rise, Mom would let us lick the bowl.
Despite her general apathy for cooking, she did it to show love, including for my father, who had a big sweet tooth like me. But after two decades of that sweetness, my father found another women and left us. The divorce put an end to the baking, as my mom’s desire to please us was gone with my father’s betrayal. I don’t think I have tasted her doughnuts ever since then. Her Sundays were no longer spent in the kitchen; she became skinny and sad. It was as if a dark cloud permeated the house.
(I'm the brown shirtless kid.)
Nowadays my mom warns any of my or my sister’s suitors that we can barely fry an egg. I do miss her baking and have promised to attempt her doughnuts soon. Who knows? Maybe the talent is in my genes. Meanwhile, back at my father’s home, his new wife’s cooking is so greasy that I warned him about an eminent heart attack. Although my mom is happily remarried, I told her about it, and by her devilish half-smile, I could tell that it seemed like sweet revenge.
Liliana Guimaraes is an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in New York City. She can be found @lilicccca.
Rosquinha Frita (Crispy Doughnuts)
4 T. flour, plus additional for the tray
8 T. sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
2 T. margarine, softened
1/2 c. vegetable oil for frying
For sugar syrup:
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
additional sugar for rolling
optional: coconut flakes
Mix flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and margarine, kneading into a dough.
Roll dough into a long stick, then break into smaller pieces, and twist.
Let them rise on a greased and floured tray in a warm place until almost doubled in size (15 - 30 minutes).
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, and fry until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
For syrup: Heat water with sugar until dissolved.
When doughnuts are slightly cooled, dip into sugar syrup and then roll in sugar or coconut flakes.