Maderans prepare Filhoz, ready to usher in Lent


Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune

Filhoz, a Portuguese donut, cook in hot oil on Saturday. Cooks, from left, are Fatima Vieira, Joe Deniz, Sara Alvarez and Goretti Gomes. The Portuguese Fraternal Society of America, Council #108, will fund its community service projects with filhoz sales.

In anticipation of Lent, volunteers from one local service club honor an old-world tradition by making the Filhoz. Madera’s Portuguese Fraternal Society of America, Council #108, held its annual fundraiser on Saturday by making and selling the Filhoz, a type of Portuguese donut.

“Each area in Portugal makes the Filhoz,” said chairwoman Maria Hinkle. “In the Azores, where many of us are from, we have a special recipe, which we are using today.”

The dough makers worked in the garage and the large deep fryers were set up on the patio at Hinkle’s mother’s house in Madera.

Many people flavor the delicacies by covering the treat in cinnamon, brown or powdered sugar, or serve them plain. In Hawaii, a type of Filhoz is filled with custard or jelly. The group made its Filhoz rolled in sugar or just plain.

The light airy donuts are made with fresh milk, eggs, butter, flour and yeast, among the ingredients. The dough is kneaded and then allowed to rise. While the makers could use a cutter to form the donuts, their tradition is to do it differently. The makers take a ball of dough, flatten and stretch it out by hand before dropping it gently in the hot oil. They expected to make 150 dozen of the Filhoz sold at $15 per dozen.

Proceeds will be used to benefit Valley Children’s Hospital, Rescue Mission, Victims Services, Holy Family Table and college scholarships. Last year the PFSA donated $2,000 from this project.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26) and runs from through April 9, three days before Easter.

The Filhoz are made as a sort of “culinary hoorah,” to enjoy on Fat Tuesday before giving up sweets for Lent on Ash Wednesday.

According to Wikipedia, the rules of the Catholic Church require that every person age 14 or older must abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays during Lent. Additionally, every person between the ages of 18 to 59 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

This Christian observance represents the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness.

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