In our other lives, we are Brazilian music aficionados. As much time as we spent eating everything in sight while in Brazil, we were as dedicated to listening to as much live music as we could, including seeing the world-famous carnival parade twice: once at the technical rehearsal, and finally during the main event. We had the good fortune both times to see the eventual parade winners, the GRES Unidos de Vila Isabel (headlined, as always, by one of L’s favorite sambistas, Martinho da Vila). Vila’s 2013 samba-enredo (theme song) was the unrelentingly catchy “Água no feijão que chegou mais um;” sing along with the video below:
The song is a celebration of the simple life in the Brazilian countryside, and makes use of some creative wordplay to talk about the samba school’s job of making music using words that evoke farming, planting, and harvesting country crops (“Vila Isabel is going to plant some happiness tomorrow morning”). Once we had listened to the song on repeat 30 times, one particular verse caught our attention:
Bota água no feijão (“[He] throws water in the beans”)
Já tem lenha no fogão (“There’s already wood in the stove”)
Faz um bolo de fubá (“[He] makes a cornmeal cake”)
Question to us, then: what is a bolo de fubá, and given our self-professed love of Brazilian pastries and cakes, why have we not made one yet? A bolo de fubá is literally a cornmeal cake, but it is more than cornbread: using finely ground cornmeal (the finer than the better), you make a slightly sweet cake that is a ubiquitous accompaniment to breakfast or midday coffee. Bolo de fubá is also a popular food eaten in the Brazilian June Festivals, or Festas Juninas.
Everyone has their own take on a bolo de fubá. The most common variations are to make it a bolo de fubá cremosa (“creamy”) or bem cremosa (“super creamy”), usually by adding coconut or a creamy substitute like extra cheese or eggs. For beginners, try this recipe for a simple bolo from about.com. Denise Browning over at From Brazil to You has a good recipe for a bolo de fubá cremosa with coconut, complete with some reminiscing about some of her bolos of years past. But really, the good recipes will all be in Portuguese: try the one from Sabor Saudade (above), or this one from Tudo Gostoso (Everything Tasty).
And thanks to Vila Isabel for introducing us to a new treat: now we have a food to get addicted to as we get more and more addicted to your song. E está chegando o povo do samba!