Growing up I had a complicated relationship with my Portuguese-ness. I kept seeing everything with this invisible dichotomous line; keeping some parts of my life from mixing once I was mainstreamed into public school.
As a child, everything jumbled together. Now, technically speaking, English is my “second” language due to me being taught both, but picking up Portuguese quicker. I lived in a townhouse in one of the “scary” cities of New Jersey. My memories are of sunny days with smelly smells and women in work aprons walking the streets all speaking Portuguese.
The little catholic school I attended was full of other children with immigrant parents such as mine. Guys, we were basically the little UNESCO kids on those 90s coin boxes.
At school and in that town, I was me, myself. In spite of any differences, we all just played The Sims and tried to see pixelated dicks (We were sorely dissatisfied 10-year-olds).
Once I moved to a new town and subsequently mainstreamed, I felt… weird. The amount of kids were just straight up Americans (family been here for a billion years) was dizzying. My last name became weird. My dad was now weird looking. Nobody understood why my middle name is my mother’s maiden name. Why do you have this slight accent? Why did I always bring pork and garlic rice for lunch? How have I never eaten mac and cheese?
These questions were certainly felt by the other ethnic kids in my middle school, but we all tried so hard to be “just American” that I feel as if we all lost a piece of ourselves in the process.
My Portuguese identity became one of severe shame. In a vain attempt of trying to reclaim some semblance of pride, I would morph myself into the “immigrant parents pride girl”, trying to drown out my shame by occasionally doing history projects on Portuguese explorers and reading their diaries in Portuguese to a class of rolled eyeballs and drool.
Yeah yeah, I was that fucking girl. On the flip side, I also did book reports on the sexuality and phallic symbols of passages while wearing ugly early Aughts Ed Hardy shirts and bejeweled pants so low my big ass crack peeked out of them.
So, I was totally cool, of course .
Right. Okay. Throughout college, I grew even more inward and hid my culture in dusty corners all due to the mental conditioning my college boyfriend pushed me through in order to make me as “waspy” as possible. A series of fortunate turns gave me the strength to dump his abusive bread dough ass. The Portuguese Pride came out screaming in celebration.
LIKE LOUD AND PROUD GUYS. I started talking non-stop about it. Here’s the order of word vomit people get from me when we meet:
- My full name
- “Oh hahaha it’s because I’m Portuguese.”
- “I’m a Pisces let’s celebrate my birthday and eat cake and hold hands and be friends forever!! … no, wait where are you going???”
I don’t have many friends, needless to say.
But you know who does? My mom.
So since my boyfriend is currently across the country making a fake sun in some physical nuclear reactor or something, I thought I’d have nothing to do all weekend and I’d spend it baking. My mom said just a friend or two were coming over on Sunday during the big Portugal vs France Euro game, and if I could make a couple of things.
You can bet your sweet ass I can! It was recently my blogaversary (July 2nd) and I was too busy to celebrate it, so I figured now would be the time . My mother’s only request was to bake something Portuguese in honor of our team probably losing.
Ok ma, you got it, gurl.
Just so we all know, flans are may have been invented in Portugal but Spain / France typically are cited… but ya know what?? Spain always takes the credit for these things but our sticky little fingers probably had the recipe snatched from us or something! Since the location is considered to be Spain or France on Wikipedia, I, Nutmeg, am changing history here to suit me!! Thank ya very much.
Spain can’t always the country of sexy people and sexy food. Excuse me what are we?? The Walmart True Value version? BYE. 👋
Plus we beat them in the Euro so in honor of Portugal, I’m taking the flan back, suckas.
(lol jk love you Spain. I would say us Iberians are like sexy kissing cousins but we’re more like siblings who prank each other and then nap together on the sofa.)
Recipe found on this page from some Portuguese magazine my mother has been hoarding for years.
The flans I grew up eating were mostly very egg based, no cream, and had this sort of pocketed texture to them. They’re good, don’t get me wrong! I just always really loved the creamy sort of flans that have a smoother texture to them. This recipe uses lemon as flavoring, (super Portuguesey) but fuck it, I love vanilla and that’s what it’s gonna be.
Cream Flan, or Milk Pudding
- 400g (~2 cups) white sugar
- 7 eggs (!!!!)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 5 dl (~2 cups) milk
- Preheat your oven to 350.
Take out 100g (1/2 cup) of your sugar and straight up pour it into a pot you don’t mind scrubbing at for 20 minutes when you’re done. Put the heat on medium low, and start the process of making caramel. I kinda let mine go for too long, so cook it until it hits JUST before the color you want. Take your cute little flan mold and just pour your toasty roasty gold all up in there.
- Quickly use a pastry brush to coat the sides and the hole/chimney/??? so the flan later won’t stick the sides and make you wanna pull your FUCKING HAIR OUT BECAUSE FUCK CARAMEL SOMETIMES SERIOUSLY.
- Put your mold to the side, and let’s get to ittttt.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, pour in your 300g (1 1/2 cups) of sugar along with your 7 eggs. I like to add the eggs one at a time until combined, but honestly, you can probably just chuck them all in there and it’ll be fine.
- I kinda beat the eggs for a little bit with the sugar until it was kind of starting to get pale. I didn’t want to over beat it for death fear of it…… cracking.
- Add in your milk and vanilla. Let it beat until it’s all mixed and shit. Pour the whole thing into your caramelized fluted pan and listen to that caramel crackle. Seriously. The sounds are actually little angel babies singing to you about how smart and wonderful you are for making a caramel based dessert.
They’re so nice. They just want to make you smile!
- Put the whole sucker into a casserole dish and pour water until the dish is half full. That’s right — you gonna cook this shit bain marie style. Deal with it. 😎
Because really you’re so wonderful and perfect and I believe in you!!! 😘
- Now unlike cheesecakes where you have to kinda baby the shit out of it, literally shove this thing in the oven and just walk the fuck away. Go get ready. Wash your ass. Panic as your mother tells you you’re now the unwilling participant of a Portuguese Party poppin’ with people.
Just don’t forget the flan. Give it about 50 mins to an hour.
- After you’ve rummaged your old ass Benfica soccer jersey from the floor of your closet rush downstairs as you panic some more over forgetting about the fucking flan , and you’ll see that it’s all puff.
Do Not Fear. Your flan is still okay.
- Once your flan looks tanned and puffy (like me!) then pull it out and let it cool for a moment until you find your final display plate. Just remove it out of the bain marie or else you gone done fuck it up by letting it cook too much.
- Be sure to find a sizable plate with possibly a lip around the edge if it’s too small, so the caramel doesn’t get all over your counters and floor and you hate me.
- Fold a kitchen towel long side and place under the flan mold. Put a plate on top of it, and with the towel protecting your hands, pull it up and flip it over onto the plate. The flan should just plop right out. If not? Get a wooden spoon and honestly beat the shit out of the mold until it stops being bad and gives you your fucking flan . It’ll come out. 😋
- Spoon any extra caramel all over the top. Best eaten cold but honestly you can eat this hot, room temp or whatever you want. We, Portuguese people, are the original Burger King: have it your way. 😎
FLAG WAS NOT STAGED.
It was however, a spontaneous inspiration. Thank you flag.
“Heróis do mar, nobre povo,
Nação valente, imortal,
Levantai hoje de novo
O esplendor de Portugal!”
You want to have your heart strings plucked by beautiful poetry? But maybe I’m bias as hell, but the Portuguese anthem is pretty.
But then again so is the American one, so maybe national anthems are just lovely!
Translation (literal, and devoid of poetry because I am a dry and bitter woman):
Heroes of the sea, noble people,
Valiant nation, immortal,
Wake up on this new day
The Splendor of Portugal
Ironically we POPPED BOTTLES BAY-BEE ONLY THE GOOD FOO FOO FRENCH KIND FOR US WINNA WINNA CHICKEN DINNAAAAAS!
Nothing wraps up success like the sweet, sweet taste of a custard.