I’m pretty sure that a solid fifty percent of the pictures on my phone are food related.
Earlier this day I was thinking about a good topic for a blog post, but I decided not to post about traveling to Fes and Meknes just yet because 1) that’ll take a while to write about, and 2) I’m finally home after a long day of school so I kind of just want freedom in a blog post to talk about whatever haha.
So I’m going to spend some time talking about food. In my last post, I wrote a little bit about making cinnamon rolls for our YES Abroad + NSLI-Y Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s the process!
First, the ingredients:
I decided to made cinnamon rolls because I was pretty confident with my sweet bread dough abilities—it’s a quick rise with looots of yeast, which makes it relatively foolproof as long as you get the yeast to bloom (successfully). At home in the US, I go through big packages of RedStar Active Dry from Costco that my family buys every year and keeps in the fridge. Here, my host family had yeast that I could use, both active dry and fresh (block) yeast.
That morning, Elizabeth (another YES Abroad student) and I walked to BIM to do our shopping. Since she was going to make cookies, we bought a lot of flour for the two of us to share.
In Morocco, most shopping happens at fruit/vegetable stands (for fresh foods), or at butchers (for meat). Since we were baking and needed large quantities of essentials like butter and sugar, though, we went to a supermarket. Supermarkets here mostly are one of two supermarket chains: Carrefour and Bim. There’s also Marjane, which is like a two-story Walmart Supercenter. Marjane has a huge selection of everything and is great if you’re willing to take the tram line all the way to the terminus in Salé or drive to the edge of Rabat, but Bim worked for us since it was close.
I love supermarkets. In the US I went food shopping pretty frequently. You get to see so many different items on shelves together and know that you have lots of different choices.
Even though we bought very ubiquitous items at Bim, small differences also did exist. Here’s what we bought (for cinnamon rolls + cookies):
- eggs here aren’t refrigerated.
- flour. Everyone uses a lot of flour, so you can find it in bulk almost everywhere, which is a nice change from buying five small packages of King Arthur at once at Harris Teeter.
- most butter comes in large foil bricks of 1 kilo each.
- lots of sugar is sold in cubes here for tea/coffee. Bagged, granulated, uncubed sugar is called “sugar for cooking.” Powdered sugar is also readily available 🙂
- you can find baking powder (levure chimique) at the grocery store, but you can only find baking soda at the pharmacy.
- there is so much good cheese here! There’s very little of the packaged sliced stuff.
The actual baking part
For the filling, I mixed white sugar, butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup (improvisation A++). Fun fact: my host mom grinds her own cinnamon.
For the dough, I just made a sweet bread dough with milk, eggs, butter, and sugar. I’m usually averse to putting large amounts of butter in a dough but sometimes you gotta make sacrifices
It felt so nice to be able to do some cooking. I cook a lot at home and I watch too many BuzzFeed and Tastemade recipes. I like and save them, too, so they end up taking over about 80% of my Facebook feed. No regrets!!
My host family has two ovens: one portable electric-powered oven with temperature control, and one large cabinet-sized oven that’s powered by gas. For anything that doesn’t need specific temperature control (essentially everything except for cake), we use the gas-powered oven. I didn’t know how to operate the oven, so my host mom helped me.
Items for baking go on the top shelf of the oven. If you want to broil something, you put it on the bottom shelf.
I hope you enjoyed this long post about my cooking process!
Fun fact: As I was writing this post, I thought a little bit about my failed venture into food-blog land. The summer after my sophomore year of high school, I decided that food blogging would be a good way to spend my time. I just read over that post from July of 2015 and I laughed out loud multiple times because of its cringy-ness. HAHA “gluten free, not that I care”…You also can see how I started describing every single dish in the beginning, but by the end the descriptions got shorter and shorter until I just stopped.
Hm. Maybe I’ll revive that blog. Definitely stay tuned for various posts on Moroccan food, though! aka some of the best food that I’ve ever tasted. Even though American Thanksgiving food is pretty good too. Everything is good. I love food ❤