Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories, Hadda Bouzouguarh, Chef and Hospitality Manger

The Hardest is Always Bread Allergies

Free adaptation based on interview with Chef Hadda

There is a large repertoire of Moroccan cuisine that I have grown up eating and that I have learned how to cook, but I can never tell you when exactly. I have always been around food, raw, cooked, in the souks and in the pantry, I love food and I love preparing it and sharing it.  I have been the Chef at DSH for the last 3 years and my role is to prepare hearty and authentic Moroccan food to our students and visitors. The tajines of fish from the shores of Sidi Ifni, or the tajines of goat meat with quince, or free range chicken with pickled olives and lemon, or a steaming bowl of beans (lubia), or yet again the skewers of sausages  and zucchini with a side of tomatoes with parsley grilled in the oven are all dishes that are eaten with Bread. For us, bread is the major food-staple, we eat bread accompanied with broth, to translate it literary it is “we ingest bread,” /kanduwzu l-khubz/. Breads are the major staple to us, for breakfast from Rghayef, msemen, beghrir or harsha (all bread types), to Aghrum afornu dripping with Argan oil, to the chfenj of the afternoon (fried bread) dipped in honey, bread is always present, always essential and always necessary, at times it is the only thing that can really fill the hunger, isn’t that otherwise called soul-food?  

So you can imagine my concern when we hosts students who cannot eat bread, not as a matter of choice because it is fattening, but because of increasing instances of gluten intolerance, at times very serious.  I am concerned because I feel they cannot have a full culinary experience of what eating “like a Moroccan” means, I feel concerned because the alternative choices are really limited, and because I worry that such an allergy not be always comprehended by a range of people when they move from our center at DSH. I don’t have a solution, but I have learned to be creative with barley, with maize and with rice-flour that is now available. I take it as my mission to give priority to these students so they still have an exciting culinary experience despite this major limitation. The administration encourages me to be creative and adventurous. At times, I have to compromise the ‘authenticity’ of a recipe if one is to reference the dishes to the traditional recipes handed down generations ago, but I also have to think about the health and safety of the student and the guest. This is my priority and my mission at work is to strive to reach this balance despite constraints. I am always so happy and excited when on their last day the students come, hug me and say a deep-heart thank you; that day I myself don’t eat bread as my soul is in heaven!  

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