Haitian DIRT COOKIES - Galette | Hard Times - recipes & food from times of scarcityFeb 19, 2020
Greetings my beautiful loves! It's Emmy. Welcome back to another episode of Hard Times exploring lean time
recipes. Today I am going to explore a recipe that comes from Haiti. Now, I've heard of this recipe for a long time, and it's for
dirtbiscuits, also known as bon bon terre or bon bon te or
galette. And these
cookieswere presented as a way to fill bellies cheaply. Each small packet of
cookiescost about five cents. Women were shown making them and then selling them and children were shown eating them. So Haiti is a very impoverished country and has become increasingly dependent on international exports, and with rising
foodcosts, many people are unable to buy or buy food, so these
dirty cookies were presented as a way to deal with hunger and hunger pangs, and also a way to make a small amount of money.
So in my research I came across a video from the World Food Program, I'll put a link below, here on YouTube that explains a little more background on these dirty cookies or biscuits. There's actually a longer history of eating these cookies and it's not just to deal with hunger. Therefore, these cookies were often consumed by pregnant women during pregnancy as a source of nutrition and minerals. And in fact, it's quite common for pregnant women to have certain urges or cravings that they normally wouldn't have if they weren't pregnant. It is believed that the fetus tells the mother what nutrients and minerals she needs.
More Interesting Facts About,
haitian dirt cookies galette hard times recipes food from times of scarcity...
So, of course, clay and earth contain natural minerals and women who are pregnant often feel sated when they have some clay or earth and receive those minerals. And they find that the taste is quite delicious. So the practice of eating dirt, earth, or clay is called geophagy, and it has been found in recorded history for millennia. I've heard about this Haitian Dirt Cookies recipe for a long time, but I didn't have any clay sources. But thanks to the lovely Rachel who sent me a link to Grandma's Georgia White Dirt, I was able to purchase this bag of dirt.
This dirt is more specifically like kaolin clay. It is used in many different things besides ceramics, including medicines, such as Kaopectate (actually, Kaopectate since 2003 does not contain kaolin, but it did at one point), as well as Maalox and Rolaids and other anti-diarrheal drugs and medicines. And the clay is believed to absorb impurities and can also be used to treat food poisoning and of course kaolin clay is also used for face masks and often found in toothpaste. It sounds a bit strange, but it's actually more common than you might expect. So the practice of eating dirt and clay can be found all over the world, including Africa.
So it is believed that enslaved peoples brought the practice from Africa to the United States and even today you can go to flea markets or markets or go online and buy clay for the specific purpose of eating it. So with a bit of history, let's go ahead and make these cookies. And here it is and if I scratch it with my fingernail, it's quite soft, like powder. It's very, very fine like talcum powder (I think on the
hardness scale, talc is considered the softest) and it doesn't smell like anything. So on grandma's website they say you can sterilize it by baking it at 350 degrees for about an hour or just popping it in the microwave for a few minutes.
She then she says to put it in a brown paper bag, which I will... Okay, and that's for sterilization, so here's my clay. I just took it out of the microwave and the instructions warn not to burn it. a word of warning now i'm going to use a hammer and smash the pieces of clay Wow it's
hardSo how a microwave works is it heats the water that's inside whatever it is that it's heating So the small amount of the water that it was in this clay, which made the clay quite soft and easy to scratch, it was heated and therefore sterilized our clay, but it also makes the clay much harder.
So for those who eat this as is, it probably affects the type of experience especially texturally in the mouth. So it's a lot harder than it was before, so I realize when I'm breaking this thing down with a hammer. Now the reason I'm doing this is to make it a lot easier when I add the water I want these bits of clay to dissolve Now we're going to add our water mmm did you hear crackling clay was ho? t Amazing oh my gosh look it instantly turns into amazing clay Oh it has a lovely smell Smells like I think the word is petrichor.
One of my favorite words. It smells like wet concrete. It's like just when it starts to rain that smell of wet cement that represents childhood and riding a bike. That's how it smells, it smells pretty good. So, since the clay is hot, listen to that. It's turning into a beautiful white clay so I'm using. my hands here to try to squash this So what I find really interesting about this recipe is that and much of the media This is portrayed as something of a very, very desperate desperate measure Understandably, but what I think is more interesting is that there is actually a history of eating this not only during
of famine but as a supplement for pregnant women.
of famine but as a supplement for pregnant women.
Absolutely fascinating. It makes absolute sense. Now that I have this paste, I still have chunks of clay in there. So now let's refine it further. So what I have here is a plastic bucket that I've cleaned up. This is food grade. I just bought it at my local bakery. I'm going to take an old cloth napkin and place it on top and this will be my type of filter. Take some string wrap it around the top and to get even tighter I'm going to use a stick and sort of a winch now I want this to be really really tight because this is going to be the filter that I'm going to process my Play on like so than take handfuls of this and just rub it in.
So the idea is that the bits stay on top and the nice soft clay is pressed through the fabric. There are other ingredients in these cookies as well. This also contains salt and margarine which I will add in the next one. steps in the videos i saw the type of clay looks a bit different while it looked nice and fine like this clay it had more of a yellow undertone so the mineral composition was probably different than this clay but i wanted to make sure i got clay of edible purity. Alright, here's my refined clay that I put in a container so you can see it better and now we're going to season this.
Now, I found a blog post that said it was ten parts clay down to about one part salt and one part margarine which doesn't seem quite right to me because it sounds like a lot of salt, but this is clay after all. It's probably pretty soft, but one part seems like a lot, but anyway, I'm going to add about a half teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of melted margarine. Stir everything. I have a baking dish here lined with parchment paper traditionally these would be placed on a cloth like sheet and allowed to dry in the sun but I'm going to speed things up and get it right in my oven let's go ahead and shape our cookies let's put a tablespoon and then just spread it out in a circle.
So a big heaping tablespoon. I'm going to put them in a 350 degree oven and bake them for about 20 minutes until hard. But we don't want them to be too firm. Alright, see you in a bit! All good! So I came back and here are my clay or dirt cookies. As you can see here, if this one was a little too thin, it got baked a bit. So what I found was at 350 degrees for the thickness of the clay I applied it was a little too hot. So I lowered the temp to 300 degrees and cooked them for about 20 minutes and it seemed to work better.
There was still a bit of cracking, but not as bad as this, so I made sure not to overbake them. In the BBC video where the reporter actually tastes them, he said they had the texture of chocolate, firm and snappy but not as hard as if you were, you know, biting into a rock. This is what it looks like in the background and let me break it down for you. This is how it looks there. It doesn't have any smell. So let's go ahead and give it a try. Here we go. Itadakimasu! Wow! It's kind of an amazing reaction: every drop of saliva in your mouth is instantly absorbed by the clay.
It's a bit salty, both from the salt and the added margarine; the taste is actually very close to the petrichor smell I described earlier. The experience in your mouth is very interesting because all the moisture in your mouth is simply absorbed by the clay which becomes a kind of muddy texture in your mouth. It's a bit gritty, but much finer in texture than you might imagine. It's not gritty, just a bit gritty, and I think it has to do with that refining process of pushing the clay through the cloth. So it's soggy, and you have to take very small bites, because it soaks up all that water.
So there you have it: Haitian ground cookies or bonbon te or
galette. It's certainly not tasty or delicious by our standard means, but this is something out of necessity and practicality. When there is not much to eat, this will help you. When you are craving for some nutritional supplement, this will help you. Thank you so much to everyone who suggested this recipe. Thank you Rachel for giving me the link to Grandma's White Dirt. Also, consider donating to the Hunger Project. I'll put a link below. Please share this video with your friends and follow me on social networks.
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