December 9, 2015

Brazilian au pair Amanda and her host family bond over traditional food

4 minutes
Cultural exchange

Brazilian au pair Amanda Baccini joined her host family in CT last January, and together they have taken advantage of every moment possible to learn more about each other’s cultures. Amanda has shared her native cuisine in particular, to her family’s delight, and even had her mom by her side to cook one traditional meal while she was in the U.S. to visit. Below they share some of the their favorite moments during the year.

Amanda cooked a traditional meal for her host family…
I wanted to show my family what traditional Brazilian food is like so I made a very traditional meal: black beans, white rice, Farofa (toasted manioc flour), sirloin steak and for dessert brigadeiros (they are a very traditional dessert, they are made of condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder). Most of the ingredients my host mom was able to buy at the grocery store but for the condensed milk, the Farofa and the sprinkles (for the brigadeiros) I made a special trip to a Brazilian market on 6th avenue in NYC. It took me around 1.5 hours to cook it all and they loved it. We also invited my host mom’s parents to come and they helped out. I explained everything while I was cooking, and it was very nice.

And they loved it, especially her host babies!
Our twin boys were crazy for the beans! They got sooo messy. Their faces were covered, and it looked like they were playing in the mud.
When my mom came to visit me, we cooked again for my host family. This time we cooked some traditional food from the Northeast of Brazil. I have family there and my mom brought most of the ingredients with her. (She had a lot of food in her suitcase!) So we made tapiocas with butter, cream cheese and ham, and cuscus (made out of corn, and you mix it with eggs and cheese). My mother brought with her a cheese that’s called Queijo de coalho and a manioc bread that we toasted. For dessert we made a carrot cake with chocolate frosting (a Brazilian version) and Cartola, a dessert traditional from the Northeast of Brasil that is made out of bananas, butter and cheese. Again my host family loved it.

Amanda participated in her host family’s tradition of apple-picking and pie-making this fall.
Her mom brought us a beautiful white linen tablecloth, that is also traditional to the northeast region. The meal was delicious. A tradition we recently shared with Amanda is apple-picking and pie-making. Every fall we pick apples and go back to my parents’ house to bake yummy American desserts! Amanda loved it.
Besides cooking Brazilian food regularly for my kids, I share my language with them too. I’m speaking Portuguese with them always, and they know a lot of words by now. Also I play Brazilian music for them while I’m cooking and all my kids love it. The girls already have their favorite songs.

Amanda’s mom visited her while she was in the U.S. and they cooked a Brazilian meal together for her host family!
Aside from sharing her Brazilian cuisine, Amanda has taught us simple words, phrases and nursery rhymes and talks quite a bit about the day-to-day differences she notices between Brazil and the U.S. She has also taught us about the holidays she celebrates back home.
We are both family oriented so we both approached this experience as joining each others families. And we truly have! We’ve had a great relationship from the start and we have become very, very close. Amanda is truly a part of our family. Her parents are very involved from afar, and we like to think of it as having ‘Brazilian grandparents’. They love our kids as much as Amanda does and they look forward to the daily pictures and videos she sends them. It’s so nice.
We thank Amanda and Vanessa for sharing their story and wish them luck this next year (Amanda with her new family in Texas and Vanessa with her family’s new au pair from Mexico). If you have a great story to share about sharing your culture with your host family or au pair, please tell us about it!