LIHUE — Fire it up.
An authentic forno, or Portuguese oven, will be one of the highlights of the Portuguese Festival July 12 at the Kauai Museum to bake sweet bread, a well-loved treat that accompanies traditional Portuguese dishes.
Chucky Boy Chock is the Kauai Museum’s Portuguese Festival Chairman. His wife is of Portuguese descent, and he said he is hoping the event will revitalize the customs for current and future generations of Portuguese on Kauai.
“The older generation had a lot of pride in their heritage,” he said. “This is a wonderful way to honor the Portuguese. We hope to have the community come and take pride and ownership in the museum as we at the museum honor their community.”
Alice Arruda is one who wants to keep the tradition going. Her late husband was a huge fan of her baking and even built her a forno in their backyard in Lihue. It’s the very oven the family donated to the museum for the festival.
“My son Darryl will be baking the bread for the festival, 12 loaves in the forno at one time,” said Arruda, 87, who was married to Henry for six decades.
Over the years, celebrating the Holy Ghost Feast in July with a party wasn’t the only time Arruba and her husband would celebrate their Portuguese heritage. Henry was born in Madera, Portugal and immigrated to Kauai with his family where he worked his entire career at a plantation as a machinist.
“We had parties at home all the time,” Arruda said of the family that often celebrated its culture. “My husband and his brother would dance around and play the guitar and ukelele.”
At the heart of their frequent parties was the traditional Portuguese music and food, prepared with legendary recipes handed down, including Portuguese pot roast, bean, cabbage and macaroni soups, malasadas and the lovingly prepared sweet breads and mini muffins.
“My husband used to make homemade wine in a vinegar barrel,” remembered Arruda.
Even before that time, Arruda helped with wine-making duties at her parents’ home.
“When I was in eighth grade, after I’d walk home from school, the first thing we would do is take off our shoes and smash the freshly picked grapes in a barrel. The grapes were from grape vines in Hanamaulu,” Arruda recalled.“The grape came out through a trough and my mother would add sugar. Stomping on the grapes would turn our feet purple.”
Other donations are pouring in from the community for the upcoming festival, including a cow. When cattleman Bob Farias, Sr. heard about the festival he was originally planning to give away a quarter hind cattle.
“When he heard Aunty Alice was involved in the event he said, ‘Aunty Alice makes the best malasadas. I better give a whole cow,’” said Chock.
Quarter hinds will be raffled off at the festival, in addition to a golf package, Fish Express gift certificates, bottles of Portuguese wine, Kalaheo Steak House dinners and a trip for two donated by Mokihana Tours.
Food served in the museum’s courtyard will include sugar-coated malasadas, sweet bread, spicy bean soup, pickled onions, cornmeal and Portuguese sausage. Dancers will provide entertainment and lesson on the history of the ukulele, said to be created by Portuguese cabinetmakers, will unfold.
The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 12 at the Kauai Museum at 4428 Rice St. Admission is free for kamaaina. Visitor special admission pricing is $8 for adults, $6 seniors (65 and older) and free for children.