So, I have been in Morocco for almost three months now and I was desperately craving a taste of home. I thought this would help my comfort food craving and also let me share a taste of America with my host family. I have made banana bread a million times and it is always super easy. I knew being in Morocco would change things a bit but I was not prepared for this entire process. I am still laughing at myself, so enjoy my story.
So, this banana bread process started about a week ago. I saw we had a lot of bananas, decision made. It took about three days for me to be able to get all of the ingredients I needed. Language barrier plus Moroccan stores equaled complicated.
I finally walked about 20 minutes to the closest grocery store and found chocolate chips, which are rare in Morocco, as well as a loaf pan, vanilla extract, and measuring cups. My host family does not have a scale or any measuring cups or spoons and I definitely do not have the skills to wing it. We found one huge measuring cup that listed the grams for flour and sugar as well as the milliliters for liquid, so then I had to convert the recipe I was using into metric.
During this whole time in the grocery store, there are so many people I have to weave around and I take forever trying to make sure I am getting the right thing since it is all in non-English. The store is also so hot and muggy because everyone from Meknes is there.
There was just a lot happening and I still needed to go to at least two other places to get the rest of my ingredients. I finally reach the check out counter and the woman tells me the pan I went to buy, which had no price or any information on it, was supposed to be a pack of three.
Exhausted, I had to say no thanks to the pan and try to worry about it later.
My next stop was to find a small store which is the equivalent of an American convenience store. There is at least one on every block in Morocco and it's usually one man who sells everything, from eggs to sodas to nail clippers. So, I go to the man because I need nuts. I ask for two handfuls of walnuts and he measured with his hands exactly that amount. That was done. Then despite the fact that it was around 9 p.m., I went on a mission for a loaf pan.
The next day, I had to walk 20 minutes back to the same grocery store to acquire a loaf pan, some ingredients for dinner, butter, and my dignity. I also had to walk to a pharmacy, because they were closed the day before, in order to get baking soda. Yes. In Morocco they do not sell baking soda in a grocery store. I asked the pharmacist why they don't sell baking soda in grocery stores and she said, "because they wouldn't be able to handle it."
So, there's that.
Unfortunately, at this point in the evening, I had to make dinner and did not have time to make my banana bread. I had all the ingredients but no time.
Here we are on day three of acquiring ingredients and about day seven of my banana bread mission. I am exhausted and trying to prepare for an important phone call but decide the banana bread must be made. Alas, I had flour, sugar, eggs, butter, nuts, chocolate chips, baking soda, vanilla, a loaf pan, and salt. I had everything I needed, except bananas. I had worked so hard to get everything I needed that the massive amount of bananas had been eaten.
Now, I am ashamed to say that I actually cried at this point. I mean I cried a lot throughout this process because I was displacing my stress about midterms and homesickness onto this banana bread. I'm not proud, but it happens. So, my host family generously went to acquire bananas for me.
No tears there.
Now, the baking process begins. I have solid, cold butter and no stand mixer or electric beater to cream it. So, I used my hands to mash the butter into a soft glob. Add sugar and repeat the process. I mashed my bananas and added my egg. I added flour and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. I decided to throw into the entire bag of chocolate chips because at this point, it was necessary.
Voila! I finally had a batter and some hope.
I greased my pan with butter only to realize I never washed it. So then I had to wash the butter I just rubbed all over the pan off only to apply more butter. Added my batter and headed up to the roof. I am not crazy, the oven is on the roof. In Morocco, they use gas ovens instead of electric ovens, so this was a new experience for me. I am not complaining at all. I just already have a hard time making things when I can set the oven to 350 and set a timer.
So, I have no clue how hot this oven is, all I know is it's hot.
After about 15 minutes I take a peek only to realize that my banana bread, which needed to cook for an hour, looked baked. Upon closer investigation, it was soup on the inside and golden brown perfection on the outside. A dilemma. I had expected something like this would happen but was ill-prepared to handle the situation. Using my Food Network knowledge, I wrapped it in aluminum foil and continued to bake my banana bread.
In the end, it was extremely dark, not burnt, slightly gooey, but overall a semi-success.