Recap: Mile-End Mimouna Hop

At 5:00 PM on Sunday, April 7th, 2013, there were three slightly hesitant doorbell rings in Montreal’s Plateau/Mile-End areas. Participants of Montreal’s first ‘Mile-End Mimouna Hop’ had been given the secret locations last minute and were separated into three groups to determine their starting point. Before the guests arrived, the three Mimouna hosts and their kitchen helpers had worked tirelessly to create their take on the Mimouna table, a spread of Moroccan sweets and dishes that are traditionally made to celebrate the end of Passover.

Aaron Cohen prepares the Mufleta dough.

Aaron Cohen prepares the Mufleta dough.
© Sophie Bertrand

Five days earlier, the volunteer hosts, their helpers, and the Roots & Recipes team had been graciously welcomed into a number of Moroccan homes for the Mimouna festivities to help with preparation and to partake in the traditions, music and of course – feasting. At the Cohen-Fourniers, for example, Aaron taught the group to make mufleta, the handmade crêpes eaten with butter and honey or jam that traditionally represent the first use of flour after Passover (recipe here). This special evening provided inspiration for the ‘mock’ Mimounas which the brave volunteers would be throwing in their own homes for complete strangers.

Alizah's Mimouna table

Alizah’s Mimouna table
© Chloe Charbonnier

As the first wave of guests showed up and were invited to eat, any tentativeness quickly melted away. Once people understood that they could really just eat and mingle with no formalities, they got to it immediately. As one participant later wrote,

I loved the openness of the event, and how everyone was meant to feel comfortable and at home in all these private spaces.

The idea was that participants would try to visit all three Mimounas within the allotted two hours, seeing both new and familiar faces at each house.

Each Mimouna was different; Jennifer had filled a beautiful, formal table with countless homemade delicacies. Alizah’s Mimouna was a lively kitchen party with a hands-on mufleta-making station. Netta was the perfect hostess, replenishing the food as it got eaten and explaining the traditions she had learned as everyone settled comfortably in her living room for some Moroccan mint tea and cookies. As another participant remarked,

Coming into a house of strangers and receiving a warm greeting: so unusual, for us, these days, and felt like a reawakening of some old custom.

Alizah making mufleta at her Mimouna

Alizah makes mufleta at her Mimouna
© Chloe Charbonnier

Netta explains some of the mimouna traditions she chose to present

Netta explains some her table
© Chloe Charbonnier


      

host Jennifer Fischman's Mimouna table

Guests dig into Jennifer’s spread
© Chloe Charbonnier

Atigh drizzles honey on Mufleta

Atigh drizzles honey on Mufleta
© Chloe Charbonnier

The last stop was La Khaima restaurant, where 50+ people were handed a traditional glass of buttermilk upon arrival and invited to sit around three low tables. After some explanation and discussion led by the Roots & Recipes team, the hosts took some time to talk about their individual experiences participating in the Mimouna Hop. Then it was time for dinner – mufleta cooked in honey to re-whet the appetite (and for those who may have missed out earlier), followed by pastilla, the traditional Moroccan meat pie filled with chicken, cinnamon, onions and raisins, and a vegetable couscous. Atigh, owner of La Khaima and our host for the evening, also provided us with his signature hibiscus juice. As we ate, we were treated to some kora playing by the talented Steven Feller.

The majority of the participants, which included both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews as well as non-Jews, had never heard of the Mimouna tradition and were thrilled to be ‘let in’ on such a charming tradition. At Roots & Recipes we believe that cross-cultural sharing is an excellent starting point for understanding and tolerance, which was confirmed by one comment we received,

I learned a lot about the Sephardic tradition–something that I believe is important for expanding our understanding of what it means to be Jewish.

Our collective Jewish identity is made up of countless traditions and variations from all over the world; the Mimouna is just one of these and we are delighted to have shared it with so many people.

Roots & Recipes would like to thank A Bit Off the Top, La Khaima, our volunteers, and the Cohen-Fourniers and other families who invited us into their homes.

everyone eats - bon apetit!

Everyone eats – bon appetit!
© Chloe Charbonnier

Atigh sets down his pastilla

Atigh sets down his pastilla
© Chloe Charbonnier

 

 

more mufleta making at Alizah's

more mufleta making at Alizah’s
© Chloe Charbonnier

Roots & Recipes leads a short discussion

Roots & Recipes leads a short discussion
© Chloe Charbonnier

the volunteers learn to make Mufleta

the volunteers learn to make Mufleta at the Cohen-Fournier’s
© Sophie Bertrand



sharing Mufleta at Jennifer's Mimouna

sharing Mufleta at Jennifer’s Mimouna
© Chloe Charbonnier

Host Jennifer and kitchen helper Erin put the finishing touches on their couscous

Host Jennifer and kitchen helper Erin put the finishing touches on their couscous © Chloe Charbonnier

sweet table at Cohen-Fourniers - with helpers in thebackground

sweet table at Cohen-Fourniers
© Sophie Bertrand

Roots & Recipes Team prepares couscous, Yolande Cohen overlooks

Roots & Recipes Team prepares couscous, Yolande Cohen overlooks © Sophie Bertrand

couscous at the Cohen-Fourniers

couscous at the Cohen-Fourniers
© Sophie Bertrand

Spread at the Cohen-Fourniers

Spread at the Cohen-Fourniers
© Sophie Bertrand

 

Sophie Bertrand

Chloé Charbonnier

 

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