Rainy Clouds

It all started in the second grade at John B. Cary Elementary School. Our class put on a school play. It was a production of Close Encounters of The Food Kind. Spencer was the Swiss cheese, Kelly was the Riboflavin, Laura was the fish, and me, I was the alien visitor narrator. I'll never forget my closing lines, “So, remember folks, when you want a snack that's nutritious and dandy, have a carrot instead of candy. Vegetables, fruit, bread and meat; these are the healthy things to eat. It's time to go, and now you know about the good things that make you grow.”

And curtain.

In high school my crew, my super crew, consisted of four people, Paz, Sam, Spencer and me. We were inseparable. I have so, so many wonderful memories. We loved each other but we were tortuous and cruel to one another. We all made each other do terrible, terrible things in Truth or Dare. I'm pretty sure I made Spencer lick the under side of a toilet seat. But he and Sam threw me out of the car, on the side of a busy road, screaming loudly for everyone to hear - that I was a prostitute, at lunchtime the day before.

In high school, Spencer moved to Brazil for a foreign exchange program. When he returned he had a serious staph infection on his thumb. Of course it was our duty to taunt him and make him feel like a leper: we chanted that he was bitten by a Tsetse fly. He almost lost his thumb. God, we were so evil. In addition to coming back with that thumb issue Spencer had fallen in love. With Brazil. He was obsessed. And one evening, after countless shots of a mixture of every single thing in my dad's liquor cabinet, and perhaps smoking a little of that devil's lettuce, Spencer professed he was going to move back to Brazil and marry a Carnival queen. I'm sure we laughed, pointed and made fun of him.

While Paz, Sam and I were in College in Ohio, Spencer noodled around doing this and that in Richmond. Then, when Sam took a quarter to study in Brazil, Spencer went to meet him. They travelled around together for awhile, and then Spencer found Eva. Though she was not exactly a Carnival queen, she was pretty close; she was a trapeze artist in 'Circo Escola', a government program to help kids get off the street via art. Spencer fell in love and married Eva. From Brazil to Richmond to New Orleans back to Brazil and then to Peru and then finally landing back in Richmond, where they have settled with their two beautiful daughters, Spencer and Eva are an enviable team.

And now, together, they have launched something very cool in Richmond, VACLAA: The Virginia Center for Latin American Art. It is a non-profit arts and culture education organization. Here is a great article outlining the organization in Style Weekly.

It is my honor to present my guest blogger, Eva, with a recipe close to her heart and home.

Rainy Clouds

I was born in rural Brazil and grew up with many cousins. You see, my grandmother had eleven kids, each of those kids had at least three kids of their own. My cousins and I treasured the countless adventures we had together on the surrounding land: climbing trees and hills, crashing watermelon fields, floating in the river of brown reddish waters of my state, Parana.

At age nine, I was already working picking coffee or cotton. I never thought of that as a job- I loved the touch of the cotton. We would walk miles to get to the fields.

So we were always moving.  Some of us would stop at the end of a long day.  We would lie down on the fields and observe the clouds. We played a game of finding forms in the clouds: “the first to find a bunny-like shape will be the first to be kissed…” and other ones like that, created out of the clouds shaped on the open blue sky. But there were rainy days; and on those days we were all stuck inside my grandmother’s house around her wood stove. She would shoo us away like cats or chickens to get us from under her feet.  She would often make a big pail of Rainy Cloud Cakes.  My grandmother would deliberately leave the mixture a little bit moist so it would create strange forms when fried and then toss them in powdered sugar so they resembled clouds. “It’s a heart,”  “It’s a bunny; I will be the first one to be kissed!”  We would play this way.

I made my own search in the clouds and rainy cakes… I believed that if I could find a male shoe, or perhaps a bus, or even a horse, it would mean my father would be coming home. I still look for that shape.

Rainy Cloud Cakes

1 egg
1 cup of milk
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 quart of oil
Granulated and/or powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
optional: a pinch of nutmeg and/or cinnamon

Place dry ingredients in a bowl, stir together with fork.

Lightly beat egg; add egg and milk to dry ingredients and stir.

Mixture should be loose; add a little more milk, if necessary, to get the proper consistency.

Scoop heaping spoonful of mixture and drop into hot oil:  fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Drain and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, nutmeg & cinnamon.

For strange shapes let the mixture fall in any way - have fun!

Printable recipe.

One year ago: Creamy Green Garlic Soup with Bacon & Black Garlic Chips

Two years ago: Relate
Three years ago: Scallops & Shrimp over Linguini with Baked Feta
Five years ago: Tasca

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