For weeks I – like many others who are suddenly confined to home – have been under the spell of sourdough bread. Of course I was standing in front of an empty yeast compartment in the supermarket. For lack of better I decided to make one myself desemstarter and due to a surplus of time I immersed myself in countless YouTube videos about how to maintain a sourdough starter, what you can use it all for, the various folding techniques and rest times. It took a while, but now I am adept at baking delicious bread, baghrir (thousand hole flanges), focaccia’s and pizzas without the need for the inferior supermarket yeast.
I tried to get my mother on board with all my disenchantment, but she wouldn’t hear about it. During Ramadan, she prefers to deviate as little as possible from her regular habits because she is not allowed to taste anything while cooking.
In one of the telephone conversations I tried to explain what is so fantastic about sourdough bread. It’s easy – no kneading or kneading the dough! – and very healthy. I don’t know how long I had been speaking in thin air, but somewhere halfway through my promo talk, my mother had hung up the phone.
In a last-ditch effort to convert her, I decided to make her a loaf of bread and a small jar of starter. “Once she’s tasted it, she’ll definitely want to use it,” I told my sister, who thought my urge for recognition was excessive. While the dough was resting in the fridge, I sent my mom a picture of the starter. She called two seconds later.
“That’s khmira beldia,” she said enthusiastically. Stunned: “Did you make that yourself?”
As a young girl in Morocco, cooking and baking in the household had been her job. She had tried more than once to make sourdough starter, but she had never succeeded. “The women in our ward all had their own recipe. Some used buttermilk or yogurt, others honey. The pharmacist’s wife used tea instead of water.” She tells enthusiastically about harsha, pan bread, with a sourdough starter based on tea. “That was my favorite.”
My grandmother regularly sent my mother to get khmira beldia from one of the neighbors, who depended on what she needed it for. “I didn’t get any further than rye and water,” I cover myself. Yet she is enthusiastic. “Will you bring something with you tomorrow? Then I use it in the pancakes for Eid.”