Setting a traditional Mimouna table begins with foods you lay out as symbols but do not actually eat. A live fish in a bowl connotes fertility or abundance. Milk, eggs, wheat, fava beans and flour may make an appearance, too.
There are also foods that do not show up on the table. Observant Jews do not mix meat and milk (and thus the butter that tops the moufleta) in the same meal, so this is not the time to show off your lamb tagine skills. Nor do traditionalists bake cookies with flour; that would require having the flour or Mimouna cookies in the house during Passover, which is also against the rules.
Instead, a Mimouna table may contain marzipan or cookies and other sweets made only with nuts. Candied eggplant sometimes appears, and it is better than you might think.
And then there is moufleta. A flat cake a bit like chapati, it cooks up quickly from a dough that Mimouna hosts can throw together after the sun sets. In Morocco, non-Jewish neighbors often bring flour to their hosts at the appointed hour.
At my first stop last year, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, much fun was made of the fact that Yuki Levinson, an Israeli-American with Ashkenazi (European) roots, was at the stove. Though she is the proprietor of a Brooklyn catering business called Yuki’s Cookies and learned to make moufleta at the side of an elderly Moroccan woman, the crowd of guests, many of them Israelis descended from North African families, were still slightly suspicious.
Head down, Ms. Levinson stood at the stove with the makings of many dozen moufleta, and proceeded to prove herself. Her training? As a cook in a secret Israeli Army unit that she would not describe. The pan? “I bought it at the 99-cent store in Midwood,” she said.
She rolled out the first moufleta with the help of an assistant, dropped it into the pan, flipped it once and then put the next on top. The heat from the first moufleta began cooking the side of the second that touched it, and then she flipped both at once, so the second moufleta got a browning on one side. She repeated this, over and over, until she had a stack of dozens, flipping the growing stack with her fingers.
“When you work in a kitchen, you don’t really feel the heat anymore,” she said.
As the pile became nearly unmanageable, the guests began hovering. The hosts laid out softened sticks of butter and squeeze bottles of honey, near an enormous tea set with a kaleidoscopic array of colored glasses.
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