Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), the day before Lent, is also known as Malasada Day in Hawaii. Being predominantly Catholic, Portuguese immigrants would need to use up all of their butter and sugar prior to Lent. They did so by making large batches of malasadas, which they would subsequently share with friends from all the other ethnic groups in the plantation camps. This led to the popularity of the malasada in Hawaii. Still a tradition in Hawaii, Leonard's Bakery experiences long lines to purchase discounted malasadas on this day.
A malasada (or malassada) is a Portuguese confection. They were first made by inhabitants of São Miguel Island, part of the Azores. Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Traditionally, the reason for making malasadas has been to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, traditionally forbidden during Lent. They are eaten especially on Fat Tuesday - the day before Ash Wednesday. Some families associate them with Mardi Gras.
In 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Azores came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the "malasada." Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas.
Hubby and I are making some this afternoon! Mmmm Mmmmm Good!