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*Manage with bread and butter until God sends the honey.* - Moroccan proverb
"In North Africa bread is sacred, and is treated with respect. If you see a piece lying on the ground, you pick it up and kiss it and put it some place where it will not be dirtied. A woman who wishes her bread to impart that special kind of God-given luck called baraka will send the first three leaves of the unleavened therfist to a Koranic scholar. And there is a tale in Morocco of a Negro woman imprisoned in the moon because she defiled a loaf.
"The round, heavy-textured, spicy bread of Morocco is quite different from the flat, hollow discs that pass for 'Arab bread' in the United States. Chewy, soft-crusted Moroccan bread is highly absorbent, ideal for dipping into the savory sauces of tagines and as a kind of 'fork' for conveying food when eating with one's hands. Because it is left to rise only once it is extremely easy to make, and is well worth the trouble if you are planning to serve Moroccan food.
"The custom at a Moroccan dinner is that only one person distributes the wedges cut from the round loaves; otherwise, there will be a quarrel at the table."
"In most Moroccan homes bread is still prepared every morning, kneaded in a large, unglazed red clay pan called a gsaa and then sent to the community oven on the heads of children wearing padded caps.
The loaves of each family are identified with a wooden stamp, and the bread is returned as soon as it is baked.
"To my mind the best bread in Morocco is made with such coarse grains as whole wheat or barley mixed with unbleached flour. But whenever a visitor (and especially an American) is coming to the house, many Moroccans unfortunately feel that it is 'finer' to prepare their bread with refined white flour, and the result is, predictably, bland.
"Moroccan women knead bending over the gsaa while pushing and folding a long roll of dough back and forth until it gains maximum elasticity. The best-tasting breads are the ones most thoroughly kneaded - the yeast is evenly distributed and the bread is protein-rich: my image of bread making in Morocco is concentrated around the memory of myself on my knees kneading in time to the recorded songs of the great Egyptian singer Oum Kaltsoum." "Besides the classic Moroccan breads called kisra or khboz there is a Marrakesh specialty called khboz bishemar (very similar to the pastry called rghaif and which I call Marrakesh 'Pizza'; therfist, an unleavened bread that is prepared in sheets, which are often spread with a foamy mixture of fenugreek and water reputed to make Berber women plump; and a kind of bread made by the 'blue people' (Tuaregs) of the Sahara, baked on hot sand and called tagella." "When Tuaregs share bread with a stranger they sanctify the occasion by saying: 'By bread and salt we are united.'" From "Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco" by Paula Wolfert. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1987. ISBN 0-06-091396-7. Pp.
49-50. Posted by Cathy Harned.
From: Cathy Harned Date: 09-25-94