Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FENADOCE - Brazil's National Sweets Fair

Brazilians are notorious for having a sweet tooth, and most Brazilians will unashamedly admit to being addicted to desserts, candies and sweet drinks. There are several possible historical reasons for this including the importance of the cultivation of sugar historically in Brazil, and Brazil's colonial ties to Portugal, which has a rich tradition of its own of sweets, centered around baked goods from that county's convents and monasteries.

Being a nation of 200 million sweet-lovers, it's no surprise that Brazil celebrates this love affair with a national Fair. It's called FENADOCE, which is an abbreviation of its name in Portuguese, A Feira Nacional do Doce. It is held every year in the southern Brazilian town of Pelotas, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. In 2010, FENADOCE will be celebrating its 18th annual fair, from the 26th of May to the 13th of June.

It is a bit unusual that a national event like FENADOCE would be held so far away from the population centers of the country, almost on the border with Uruguay and thousands of kilometres away from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. But Pelotas is a natural place for this event to be held according to the official website of FENADOCE:
The culture of sweets and sweet baking in Pelotas was inherited through the recipes brought to this city by the first Portuguese immigrants in the middle of the 18th Century. These immigrants brought with them such marvels as: ninhos, fios-de-ovos, babas-de-moça, camafeus, papos-de-anjo, canudinhos recheados, pastéis de Santa Clara and many more.
Later Italian and German immigrants became of the culture, each group bringing with them recipes for sweets and desserts. At that time, home gatherings and parties were showcases of sweets, since for the immigrant cultures sugar and sweet things were elements of any celebration. Immigrant families had traditions of passing on recipe for the families' favorite sweets from generation to generation.
Today Pelotas has become a place where artesanal production of sweets has combined with industrial production technique to create an ever-growing industry in our city. Because of this, the sweets of Pelotas are not just known locally, but are valued throughout Brazil.

The fair not only has food, but a variety of entertainment, from music, to clowns, to dance and theater. But the traditional sweets of Pelotas are still it's raison d'être. Here is a visual sampling:

In the next few posts, I will translate some of the recipes for traditional sweets that can be found on the website of FENADOCE.


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