I have a bad case of saudade right now.
Not sure what that means? That’s not surprising. I didn’t either till recently. It’s a Portuguese word with no direct translation into English -and possibly the saddest word ever. Saudade describes a deep nostalgia or longing for something missing or lost so bad it hurts. In fact, Wikipedia needs paragraphs in English to explain what that one word conveys in Portuguese:
“Saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as old ways and sayings, a lost love, a faraway place, loved ones who have died, and the faded, yet golden memories of youth.”
Oh! It sounds like a broken heart.
“It can be a rush of sadness coupled with a paradoxical joy derived from acceptance of fate and the hope of recovering or substituting what is lost by something that will either fill in the void or provide consolation.”
Ummmm…okay. Now I’m not sure I get it. Saudade sounds very romantic and dramatic, though. It has such a deep significance in Portuguese culture, Brazil even has an official Day of Saudade on January 30.
Well, one thing I DO know. Right now I have saudade for that coconut mousse Leticia Schwartz made us at Central Market during their Passport Brazil Celebration. It ranks as one of my favorite desserts ever:
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ⅔ cups coconut milk
- 1 cup unsweetened dried grated coconut
- 2 ½ teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- shaved coconut chips, lightly toasted, for garnish
- Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup coconut milk and the dried coconut together into a bowl. Set aside.
- Put the remaining ⅔ cup coconut milk into a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and give it a quick whisk. Let sit for about 2 minutes, then bring it to a simmer over very low heat, whisking gently until the gelatin is dissolved, approximately 1 minute.
- Pour the gelatin-coconut milk into the sweetened condensed mixture and whisk. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- With an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Then gently fold it into the coconut mixture with a spatula until smooth.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer. When the eggs begin to foam, slowly add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold it gently into the coconut mixture until smooth (It will become somewhat liquid when mixed into the base).
- Pour the coconut mousse into a nice glass bowl or smaller individual glasses and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 6 hours, or overnight.
- Sprinkle with toasted coconut before serving.
Here’s the rest of the menu Leticia and the Central Market crew cooked for us recently, all from her cookbook, The Brazilian Kitchen.
Grilled Minas Cheese with a Brazilian Pesto Sauce (Served on a Bed of Mixed Greens)
Minas Grelhado com Pesto Brasileiro
Chicken and Plantain Moqueca
Moqueca de Galinha e Banana-da-Terra
Coconut Mousse with Coconut Custard Sauce
Mousse de Côco, Baba de Moça
Pé de Moleque