November: the month of sweet potato and fennel cookies
In Portugal tradition says that November and December are months dedicated to broas, small brownish cookies, oval or round, done with sweat potato or corn bread, decorated with half almond and baked especially for the All Saints Day or Christmas.
The name broas has a double meaning, since ‘receive the ‘broa’ is an old expression that means receiving a gift, usually money. On November the 1st, or All Saints Day, the ladies go to the kitchen to bake ‘broas’ and offer to anyone who nock at their doors asking for Bread for God, a public collection made by children from door to door – The Portuguese Halloween. This is associated with the ancient tradition of offering bread, cookies, wine and other food to the deceased.
In traditional markets is usual to find these cookies in various types – Castelar cookies, Honey cookies, Anise cookies, Saints cookies – in several parts of the country and include several ingredients like water, flour, olive oil, honey, cinnamon, fennel, raisins, almonds or walnuts, sweat potato or corn bread.
It’s almost impossible to eat just one and normally it goes with coffee or a glass of liqueur. In Lisbon downtown, Confeitaria Nacional is one of the places to find them.