Part One: Barriguinha de Freira
Growing up in Brazil, I was destined to love Portuguese sweets. Ever since I can remember, I have been hooked to the blissfully rich taste of all eggy pastries of Portuguese and therefore Brazilian cuisine.
One of my favorites is Barriguinha de Freira, translated – “ little nun’s belly” (we will just call it barriguinha). This treat is somewhat popular and not so easy to find. When I lived in Rio, it was sold at a few scattered delis and every time I’d see one, I’d buy it. It was a must in parties, especially in weddings and I used to grab a few to take home, knowing of how hard it was to find it.
I have been chasing this recipe for years. I tried calling chefs – they knew about it, but they didn’t have the recipe. I tried calling delis – they all said their supplier had stopped delivering it. I tried every possible lead to barriguinha – and nothing. After calling more than 5 different sources, I began to realize that the supplier was the same for all of them.
Lucky for me, I recently went to a wedding party in Rio and after getting a little dizzy due to a 40-minute work out on the dance floor, I decided to take a break, and wander around the salon. As I approached a large beautifully arranged table with sweets of all kinds, suddenly I found it, smiling at me.
While chocolates, bem-casados, quindins, and brigadeiros were all flirting with me, I was completely hypnotized by the barrihuinha. The yellow silky yolky filling shined as bright as the sun in Rio. I acted quietly, walking towards the pastry. I turned it upside down, left to right and right to left, before my first bite. I wanted to slowly savor the treat I have been longing for. The paper-thin white crust enrobing the most delicious silky egg filling melted in my mouth and tasted as sweet as a day on the beach.
Surrounded by some 400 people (yep, you red right. 400 people is pretty average in Brazil when it comes to weddings) I went back to the party and waited tor a decent moment to catch the bride. “ Who makes that amazing barriguinha de freira? “ I asked. Her straight answer was Monica Soares de Sampaio Verdial.
On my next post I will tell you all about Monica. Stick around because she is absolutely fascinating!