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Brazilian okra dish celebrates saints who protected children

Twin saints Cosmas and Damian, third-century Syrian doctors who tended to the sick for free, are the patron saints of pharmacists and physicians. But in Brazil, they’re also venerated as protectors of children, a status that shapes the traditional celebration of their feast day on Sept. 27.

In certain regions of the country, children receive candy in bags printed with the saints’ pictures. And in Bahia, young children are given first crack at caruru, an okra dish typically served with shrimp and black-eyed pea fritters.

“Similar to Charleston, Bahia’s capital has a strong African background,” Fatima Falangola says. “Several common food ingredients were brought to both Charleston and Salvador by the slave trade.”

Home cooks shouldn’t have any trouble finding okra, coconut oil or nuts in Lowcountry supermarkets. Still, a few of the ingredients for this recipe, provided by Falangola and Teca Thompson of Brazilianuts food truck, are slightly more challenging to source. Falangola suggests shopping for dried shrimp at H&L Asian Market, 5300 Rivers Ave in North Charleston. Palm or dende oil, malagueta pepper and roasted manioc flour (which is related to tapioca flour, but processed differently) are sold at Goose Creek’s Brazilian Market, 225 Red Bank Road.

— Hanna Raskin

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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