12° 58′ 13.3752″ S, 38° 30′ 44.5752″ W
This week, I learned how to make a traditional dessert that is popular to sell on the street as a snack, or to make at home. It’s called cocada, and it combines brown sugar, coconut, and many different spices. It is delicious, and now I can’t stop eating it! Read about how to make it and why the dish is important to the city. Since I have been in Brazil, finding and trying new foods has definitely been my favorite activity. There are tons of delicious fruits, dishes, and deserts that I have never seen before in my life. Similar to the United States, Brazil is divided into different states. The city I live in, Salvador, is in the state of Bahia. The food in Bahia is influenced by the many beaches, the warm climate, and African traditions. Food is a big part of the culture, and there are vendors on the street selling traditional foods all day long. Everything is so tasty, I just can’t stop eating!
This week, I was lucky enough to get a cooking lesson from someone that has been cooking traditional Bahian food all of his life, my homestay dad! He called me into the kitchen one night with a bag full of fresh ingredients from the market, and told me that we would make cocada. Cocada is a popular desert made with fresh coconut, and found all over Brazil. You can find it sold on the street or in stores. There are many different kinds of cocada, and we made one with brown sugar and nuts.
Even though cocada is eaten cold, I tried it right from the pot after we made it. I was so excited to try what we had made that I even burnt my tongue! Still, it was delicious and sweet, and I could taste all of the different ingredients that we put inside. The coconut is used a lot in cooking here, so it tasted like a real local dish. It tasted even better because I knew that I had made it myself.
To begin, we had to buy a special ingredient from the market called rapadura. It is made from pure sugar cane, and looks like a heavy brown block. We first melted the rapadura in a hot pan with water. Then we added some ingredients to add flavor, like cinnamon, cloves, and butter. After this was combined and melted together, we added fresh coconut. Finally, we added nuts to the mixture and stirred. When the mixture was done, we placed some in a jar to eat by itself or to spread on bread. Another way to serve it is to make cookie-like circles out of the mixture and let it cool. This is how they are sold on the street.
The local environment is very important to this food, because the most important ingredients are fresh and local. The rapadura, or block of sugar, is a special ingredient found only at the outdoor market. Farmers make it and bring it from a place where sugar cane grows over an hour away. The fresh coconut we used is also very important to local food. Coconut is used in both sweet and savory dishes, and it’s also a popular drink. Coconuts are grown throughout Brazil and sold everywhere on the street. The fresh ingredients were the reason that our cocada was so delicious!