Short and sweet

Mimouna is a festival of freedom, characterized by great hospitality and friendship.

By OFER ZEMACH
April 13, 2006 03:05
2 minute read.
Short and sweet

mimuna sweets 88. (photo credit: )

Celebrated at the end of the last day of Pessah by Moroccan Jews, Mimouna is a festival of freedom, characterized by great hospitality and friendship. Originally, Mimouna's central event was the baking of the first bread after Pessah, and great care was taken to ensure it rose properly. Family members and friends visit each other's homes, going from house to house, where big buffets decorated with flowers and white tablecloths are loaded with sweet baked goods. The meaning of Mimouna is unclear. It is said to have originated in Fez, Morocco, in honor of Maimonides' father, who lived and died there. Maimonides' father died on the final day of Pessah, and Mimouna honors his death. The Jews of Morocco began celebrating Mimouna on the evening after Pessah because they believed that during this night the heavens are open to their prayers. The celebration represents a symbolic new beginning of freedom from slavery, and eating these sweets symbolizes a sweet year. Among the traditional foods are dates stuffed with nuts and marzipan; zaben - white almond nougat; mazun - jam made from grapefruit, oranges, turnips, carrots and beets; while bunches of grains are scattered on the table. The lady of the house, dressed in traditional festive dress, serves the guests tea with mint along with mufleta dipped in honey and butter. In recent years the Mimouna is widely celebrated in Israel - not only among Moroccan Jews but by Sephardim and Ashkenazim from all walks of life. Families and friends gather to eat, drink, sing and dance in huge tents built in parks and forests. Matchmaking is customarily performed on Mimouna, and after eating, many single women and men mingle in the streets in order to meet an ideal mate, but they are also under the watchful eye of their parents. One of the more famous treats eaten on this mini-holiday is "mufleta," basically a thin, round fragrant pancake rolled up like a French "cr pe," served hot with butter and honey. Traditional mufleta recipes are made as follows: balls of dough are rolled out in very thin leaves or sheets and cooked together in a frying pan. Each new sheet or leaf is laid on the previous one so that the fresh leaf is always on the bottom. When the mufleta is finished cooking, it is brought to the table and the leaves are separated. Mufletas are then eaten in one of two ways: either pieces are broken off and dipped in a blend of butter and honey, or they are smeared with butter and honey and then rolled like a cigar with the butter and honey inside them. MUFLETA 3 3⁄4 cups flour 1 1⁄2 cups lukewarm water Salt Vegetable (not olive) oil Place flour and salt in bowl. Scoop out a "well" in the center and add water. Mix, adding a little extra water if the dough seems too dry, until a light and elastic dough is formed. Divide the dough into 15 to 20 small balls, cover with a towel and let stand 30 minutes on a flat, well-oiled surface. Oil hands, and on an oiled surface, roll dough into thin circles. Spread a small amount of oil in a frying pan and cook mufleta over medium heat on both sides. Serve warm with butter and honey. Makes 15 to 20 mufletas. ofer@jpost.com


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