Wednesday, December 20, 2017

moroccan doughnuts

I do not have a sweet tooth, but every so often I indulge in a sugary treat. For some time I had been curious about these so-called Moroccan doughnuts, which every now and then could be seen carried away down the street by men in djellabas, the fluffy rings strung like beads on a strip of palm frond. I had incorrectly assumed that they could be found in a cafĂ© or bakery, and after many disappointing attempts to get my hands on some, I consulted my students. I learned that the doughnuts are called sfenj, and can only be acquired from a dedicated sfenj hole-in-the-wall.

On one of Baby's afternoon walks, I spied a man in a striped djellaba turning away from a little crowd of people with a string of golden rings. Could it be? As he walked past me, it was confirmed: sfenj. In a shop no bigger than a closet, sandwiched between the entrances of apartment buildings, sat a man and a vat of boiling oil. A steamy display case separated eager clientele from the man, who was diligently spooning the sfenj out from the bubbling pool of oil.

I got four plain sfenj on a palm frond, and one dusted with sugar in my hand for immediate devouring. The dough was delightfully crispy on the outside and fluffy inside— far better than your average American doughnut, with or without sugar— and there's something so wonderful about carrying your string of sfenj down the street. Now I just need a blue djellaba...

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