Potatoes, Poutaine, and the Inquisition

This recipe is a Potato Pie and it comes from a cookbook called The Scent of Orange Blossoms. I acquired this cookbook from a college course on Women of the Middle East. My teacher felt a great proponent of any culture is how they prepare and cook food. Women in almost every culture are historically responsible for that part of humanity, so it does make sense to link the culture and journeys of women via food. We didn’t just read cookbooks in this class, though. I don’t want to upset any women’s studies professors.

I decided to take this course, because I consider myself a feminist. After September 11, 2001, as I’m sure most of you know, the middle east was very much under the microscope of Americans.  So as a woman, a feminist, and admittedly as an American, I wanted to understand this culture. I was mostly wanting to better understand the Middle Eastern cultures that embraced the hijab and how and why it is still practiced.

The most important lesson I learned from this class, was like a lot of things in life, it’s not black and white. I wasn’t surprised by this, but I knew I was ignorant about the Middle East and I wanted to educate myself better. There was a girl in our class who wore a hijab actually. She was very outspoken and seemed to have very high morals. For her, wearing a hijab was solely about religion and she didn’t see it as a means to control her femininity. I, of course, being an American disagreed with her on that, but I respected her decision anyway.

Lets move away from touchy subjects and talk about this book. This book starts with a mini history about Jewish Moroccans. I wasn’t aware before my class that Morocco inherited a lot of Jewish immigrants, but apparently this migration has been happening for many years. The biggest influx of Jewish immigrants was during The Spanish Inquisition. Side note, I find it fascinating how cultures change. I mean the Spanish seem so fun loving now,  but back then they obviously had some real issues. I suppose every culture goes through it, though, except Canada. Canadians are pretty cool. Then again, you never know what they’ll end up being like once they get some power. We should probably keep our eye on those hockey loving, poutine eating kids.

Sorry, I’m digressing, like always.

Anyway, the author of this book is Jewish-Moroccan and her family came to Morocco during the inquisition. So all of these recipes are hybrids of Jewish and Moroccan cuisine.

The recipe I made this time around is a Potato Pie that is made during Shabbat AKA Shabbos. If you don’t know what Shabbat/Shabbos is, it’s the Jewish day of rest, which is Friday. You do not roll on Shabbos.

Making this recipe was actually a lot of fun. You boil about 8 potatoes and then mash them down. Once mashed you add eggs, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. It ends up looking like cheesy mashed potatoes as you can see below.

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Potato and Egg Mix.

After you pour the mixture in a pan, you cook it for about an hour. Once you let it cool for a bit, you’re supposed to flip it. I didn’t quite wait long enough and this happened.

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Poor Potato Pie

I thought it looked prettier on the original side anyway, so I just flipped it back. The end result was, well, ok. It’s not an amazing recipe. It’s pretty much a potato quiche. I probably should have put more salt in it or parsley. I try to put as little salt as possible in my dishes, because American food tends to be full of sodium. I think that might have made it a bit bland though. To remedy the blandness I made a sauce by mixing sriracha and ketchup and just dipped my bites in the sauce. This turned out to be an excellent idea, but the pie is still a bit too bland for me to want to make again.

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Aladdin and His Magical Potato Pie

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