Though she’s only a five-hour drive away from her hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts, April Anderson’s adopted home of Milford felt like a world away — especially when it came to food.
With a mother from the Azores and a father from the West African island nation of Cape Verde, the Portuguese food Anderson grew up eating was nowhere to be found when she moved to Maine last summer to attend the University of Maine.
So, naturally, she started making it for herself. And since August, she’s been making it for others with her new baking and catering business, Pastries de’Amor , which she runs out of the Milford home she shares with her husband and teenage daughter.
“Food is love. And I want to share my culture and the food I love with everyone,” Anderson, 38, said. “I didn’t know how people up here would respond to it, but it’s been super positive.”
Anderson makes baked goods and entrees from the Portuguese diaspora, which includes places like the Azores, the Atlantic archipelago that’s part of Portugal, and Cape Verde, which until 1975 was a Portuguese colony, as well as countries like Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. There’s also the substantial community of people of Portuguese descent living in southeastern Massachusetts, of which Anderson is a part.
“It’s all Portuguese, just with regional differences,” she said.
Her specialty is baked goods, including treats like bolos de arroz, a sweet rice cake; pastel de queso, a fried cheese bread; Portuguese-style palmiers, also known as elephant ears, and brigadeiros, the Brazilian candy that’s similar to a truffle. For savory dishes, her offerings range from spicy Chicken Mozambique and braised short ribs, to chorizo meat pies and a classic Portuguese kale soup.
She also offers some pan-Latin dishes, like enchiladas, churros, plantain latkes, and changas, Anderson’s own creation that’s like a sweet cross between a chimichanga and a cannoli.
Anderson sells Pastries de’Amor goods at local craft fairs and at pop-up shops at places like Windswept Gardens in Bangor and the North Brewer Shopping Center. She also offers pre-order meals, available for pickup around the Old Town area, and she can ship frozen meat pies and her handmade spice blends, all through her website, pastriesdeamor.com.
Eventually, Anderson says, she wants to open a food truck.
“I came to Maine to study medical lab science at UMaine. I really didn’t know this was something I’d end up doing,” she said. “I didn’t know everybody was starving for this kind of thing. I just started making food because I was homesick, but it turned into a business.”