What do you mean there isn’t a large chunk of codfish in the middle of your Christmas dinner? Pancake Tuesday? Pfft, try pork stew. It’s lent and you’re eating meat on a Friday? Big no no! St. Martin’s day is just another random holiday on your calendar? No way, that’s a time for roasted chestnuts!
With many culinary traditions extending across cultures, the Portuguese are no exception. Over time and with combinations of cultures, they can vary from home to home. In ours, the holidays cannot go on without the delicacy that is sonhos.
Sonhos; which directly translates to dreams, are a must on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and especially the Epiphany. They return on Easter Sunday before hibernating until fall harvest when the pumpkins are ready for picking. Despite looking easy to make (roll, fry, devour), my mom is seen at family gatherings making these cherished sweets—preferably on the spot since they’re best enjoyed fresh, with a side of port wine, of course…
Growing up in this household ensured that I couldn’t possibly relate to complaints about bad lunches—
I mean, how could I? Maria Esteves’ culinary skills are attested to by anyone who has had the pleasure of dining at her table. Not only does she cook well but does so with passion, which is evident in each dish, particularly her five-course meals!
So…what are dreams made of?
Sonhos are essentially fried balls of dough covered in sugar and/or cinnamon. There are a few variations of sonhos—regular sonhos as just mentioned, squash sonhos, carrot sonhos and in reality, any other combo that comes to mind. Maria specializes in the squash sonhos just like her mother did, which are also called “filhoses.” She typically keeps an emergency squash in the pantry, in case we have guests.
Seeing as most people aren’t fortunate enough to dine chez Maria whenever they please, we’re sharing the recipe…though we’ll have to exclude two secret ingredients as promised. On that note, give these a try one night—just try not to eat the whole plate!