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Getting to Know You: Euzana Forkan

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

A series of Q&As with members of the vibrant Irish international community to share their cultural heritage, food memories and stories.

Euzana Forkan was born in Bahia, Brazil and grew up in São Paulo. She has been working in digital marketing for ten years and currently is doing her Masters in Gastronomy at the Technology University Dublin.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am from Brazil. I was born in the state of Bahia, in the northeast of the country , but when I was one, my parents moved to São Paulo, the biggest city in Latin America, which was where I lived until 2013. I decided to take my sabbatical year to finally learn English and came to Ireland. And when I was in Dublin learning English, I met the love of my life, who is now my husband and so I decided to call Ireland home.

I am the eldest daughter of three children from a working-class family. My most remarkable memories relating to food are divided between melodramatic weekday dinners and the most delicious holiday food.I was a very picky young child who hated to eat, and every dinner time was full of tears and hours of negotiation. My poor mother!

But my great memories come from my holidays on my grandparents’ farm in the countryside of Bahia, where every summer we used to go and stay for at least one month.

My grandparents used to plant and produce their own food. My granny had a huge vegetable garden with loads of vegetables, greens and herbs. The backyard was full of fruit trees/plants like lemon, orange, avocado, guava, papaya, banana/plantain, mango (seriously, the sweetest mango in the world), passionfruit and jackfruit. She also kept hens, roosters, turkeys, gooses and ducks, all living around the same backyard. It was eventful!

They also had plantations of beans, cassava, corn, coffee and even cocoa. And a small house called casa de farinha where they produced their own cassava flour, which is a staple food in the northeast of Brazil.

My grandpa looked after some cows (for milking) and pigs (to eat on special occasions. They lived what Michael Pollan would describe as “the dream,” eating organic and seasonal food, the true “farm to fork”.

During my holidays I always had the tastiest food that my granny and aunties used to cook in a very traditional way, using a lot of cassava and corn, and mixing Indigenous and African influences.

Although I was a very fussy child, somehow, I became an adult who eats everything and loves food so much that I am now doing a Masters in Gastronomy & Food Studies. Life is so peculiar, isn’t it?

Do you cook?

Oh yes, I cook a lot. I love to cook and test new recipes. Nowadays I cook pretty much every day, it is my ritual and also because I am preoccupied with not eating ultra-processed food etc. I also love baking - it is my therapy!

I learned to cook with my Mam, but never had to cook properly until I moved to Ireland, when I discovered my real passion and interest in food.

What is your favorite dish, and your favorite food memory? Likewise, what is your most traumatising food experience? (Everybody has one!)

I think my favourite dish is a simple Italian pasta, made with fresh tomato sauce and basil, loads of olive oil and some Grana Padano cheese on the top. Pretty simple, but comforting. And I have to mention my favourite cake as well, as I believe cake expresses affection and is essential in my life. My favourite is Bolo de Fubá com Goiabada, which is a Brazilian cornmeal cake with some guava jam topping. Delicious!

My most traumatising food experience happened a good few years ago when I was in Buenos Aires in a working trip. After a few hours in a meeting, I went to the canteen in the office to have lunch quite late and the only option available was a kind of rice with kidney. I ate it because I was starving, but as I hate liver, can you imagine how horrible it was for me to eat kidney?

Where do you shop? Is there an ingredient/dish that you most crave that you cannot get here?

For the day-to-day stuff, I shop at SuperValu, Lidl and Tesco, and in a local independent shop in my area for vegetables. Before the pandemic, I used to go once a week to Fallon & Byrne, and the Asia Market to get some bits and pieces that I can only find in these places. For bread (I’m very particular about bread), I get mine from Bread 41 or Scéal Bakery. And finally for Brazilian stuff, I normally go to Capel Street, as there are many Brazilian shops there. I can’t live without farofa (a dish made with cassava flour) and pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), so I have to go quite often there to get my ingredients.

Although we have plenty of Brazilian ingredients available in Dublin, the fruits are not the same. Particularly when it comes to the humble banana, which are really not the same at all. In Brazil we have many types of banana (I miss five of them), they are all so full of flavour and sweetness.

Also I cannot get good quality of cassava and cassava flour in Ireland.

Are you particularly excited about the cuisines of other cultures, and if so, which ones? Likewise, are there ingredients/dishes that have repulsed you?

I’m very interested in the cuisines of various cultures - Italian, Japanese and Mexican are my favourite ones - but I’m always excited about Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly Lebanese and Palestinian cuisines. I enjoy buying cookbooks to 'Julie & Julia' them, so I have some books from these cuisines to test recipes. But now I’m doing a masters, I don’t have as much time to cook as I would like, so I’m cooking a lot of old recipes at the moment.

I think the only food that repulsed me is liver, any kind of liver, can’t even smell it. Ah! Oh, and Irish Christmas pudding! Definitely not my kind of dessert.

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