Growing up as a part of a Catholic family, our Christmas traditions were to attend, or at minimum, celebrate a midnight Mass known as ‘Missa do Gallo’ (Gallo is a rooster). The church Mass is given this name, because it is the rooster that announces the beginning of the Mass, and the Mass finishes in the early hours of the morning.
I remember our family’s Christmas Feast, Ceia de Natal, being served after the Mass when we would eat and enjoy great food and beverages into the early morning of Christmas day.
The foods we enjoyed would vary from year to year. However as a farming family, we grew great produce, a wide variety of tropical fruits, high-quality beef, and the intensely flavored, special breeds of Moura pork and Chester turkeys.
Some of the dishes on our Christmas table were, fresh vegetables in a variety of flavors and cooking methods, sautéed chiffonade of kale with garlic, fresh tropical fruits as well as dried fruits and cheese, and Brazilian long-grain rice pilaf with nuts, herbs, and raisins. They all providing support for our annual favorite roasted Chester turkey and roasted leg of Moura pork—both served with our Farofa Natalina (toasted manioc flour with bacon, onions, herbs, and raisins). We also often enjoyed a delicious dish of salt cod with olive oil, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, which showed the Portuguese influence of our Brazilian cookery. Of course, a large variety of sweets and specialty desserts are also a big part of the Christmas feast.
Christmas in Brazil comes at the beginning of our high temperatures, however we still enjoy our Christmas trees, the lights, Mass at church and the Christmas feast at home—all of which signify the importance of the Christmas festivities in the country.
Here is one of my favorite recipe from our family’s Christmas table.
Chef Almir Da Fonseca Dec.’18