Twisting Traditions

Holli Sullivan - Brazil

December 13, 2011

         As likely EVERY ONE of you other Fellows has been experiencing this month, the holiday season is not a very easy time to be this far away from home. I have missed home the whole time I have been gone, but this time of year brings just about as much “saudade”(a Portuguese word that basically means missing and longing) as I can possibly stand. I had been missing singing Christmas carols that I was familiar with, the cold weather, and, more than anything, my family’s never-failing tradition of making, frosting, and decorating homemade sugar cookies and sharing them with our friends. After about 2 weeks of feeling like a hollow shell in a lonesome wood, I decided, with the help of my mother via Facebook chat, to bring the ol’ cookie tradition down south for the winter. And so, the journey began.

          After a good hour of translating all the words for the ingredients in the recipe that I would need, I walked through the plaza, past the hissing group of moto-taxi drivers, and down the road to Cunha, the local market here in Sao Fran. Sugar cookies aren’t a big thing here in Brazil, so I was a little worried that the market wouldn’t have all of the ingredients. Turns out my worst nightmare had come true. Just trickin’, it wasn’t that bad of a nightmare, but the market didn’t have powdered sugar, vanilla extract, or food dye. Frustrated that my homesickness would never be put to rest by way of the cookies, I stormed out of the store, leaving all the other ingredients behind, and walked home sadly in the rain.

     Upon arriving home and speaking with my host mother, I found that Google Translate was simply a massive problem, and that here in Brazil they just have different names for the things for which I was looking. We went to another market, found the missing ingredients, and were ready for action. The sun peeked out from behind a dark grey cloud, and shone upon the wondrous situation.

  After approximately 8 requests from my adorable host niece Adriele to “fazer os biscoitos” (make the cookies), I finally wrote down the recipe from my mother and was ready to begin making the dough…or so I thought, until I remembered the United States fantastic decision to use the Imperial system of measurement. Back to the computer I went, to convert every one of the ingredients into metric units.

To be real it wasn’t that big of a hassle, and it was all 100% worth it – not only to make my little niece happy, but to bring my family tradition here into my Brazilian home and satisfy the lack of holiday spirit that I had been feeling. And just as is to be expected, things had a little GCY twist to them. White frosting due to no food dye, no sprinkles since all stores are closed on Sundays, and of course, because not a single store in the mall carried a rolling pin, rolling out the cookie dough with our trusty Global Citizen Year water bottle.

Happy Holidays my loves, make them amazing.


Floury hands and good times 🙂

Holli Sullivan