Monday, October 24, 2011

Algerian Pastries in Ann Arbor

Makroud


Three months ago, I decided to take the plunge and follow one of my dearest dreams. That week, butter, flour and orange blossom water spent most of the day on the countertop and my hands were rolling, shaping and filling pastries almost every single day. That week, Wednesday came faster than ever before and I’ve found myself one Wednesday afternoon packing my car with a table, a chair, a cardboard sign and a bin filled with pastries. With a kiss on the forehead from my husband and a hug goodbye from my daughter Layla, I backed up on the driveway and took the road that would get me closer to the Ann Arbor farmer’s market, to my dream; the road that would give birth to Al Meida fine Algerian pastries. That day, I gave birth to a slice of my country in the heart of Ann Arbor and it never felt so beautiful, so sweet, just like pastries.





There I was setting my table between the coffee guy and the lady selling plants and beautiful flowers. There I was arranging sticky Makroud, tender Kaab el ghzal and melt-in-your mouth Dwiyrat in copper-like trays my mother brought me all the way from Algeria as my first customer came, sampled some of the pastries and actually bought some more. I was amazed. I sold my first pastries! I sold Algerian pastries right here in America. The same pastries I grew up eating after school, at weddings, Eids and at my nana’s house were being consumed by people living 5855 miles away from where I was born, where I made my first Makroud and where I grew up. It felt unreal yet right. It felt as if I was dreaming yet I was at the right place at the right moment. In a way, It felt as if I not only brought pastries with me that day, and the day that followed and still follows, but also my past, my present, the smells of my country and a taste of the house I grew up in.

Kaab el ghzal


As I type these words, I can clearly sense how I feel when I go to the market and share my pastries with people: I feel happy just like I feel happy when I share my recipes and childhood with you. As I stand by my table, I am not alone. I feel as if my mother, my late nana and all the women of Algeria are by my side. When I’m selling my pastries at the market, surrounded by caak, Ghribia, the people, the smells and sounds, Algeria is here with me; if only for a few hours before I go back home to the arms of my husband, the hugs of my daughters and the splattered pages of my family recipe book to bake for another week to come.

ghribia


Ever since that first day, I have been blessed with all the people I’ve met, the regulars that come get their favorite, share a smile, a few words and come back the next week. Wednesdays evenings gave way to Saturdays mornings at the farmer’s market where it is much busier and with longer hours. But I am still amazed when I see people coming to the market from near and far asking about my pastries while others are sending e-mails asking me to ship pastries to their far away state. I feel blessed to share what I love with others and I am grateful to my mother, grandmother and all the women of my family who taught me that cooking or baking was not only about feeding your hunger but mostly about bringing people around one single Meida, one single table, be it small or big.

la famille around "al meida"

20 comments:

Meister @ The Nervous Cook said...

What a wonderful post, and a graceful reminder to follow where your heart (and your orange-blossom water) leads you.

Many congratulations and much future success to you.

Farralee@comcast.net said...

Congratulations, one of the things that make us America is bringing memories, tastes and share them with those of us who don't remember our own histories but still have recipe books that we share.

Much success and when you do ship please let us know.

Warda said...

Meister, thank you! It feels like a dream come true. :)

Farralee, thank you very much. And I've already started shipping in the US (even shipped one to the South of France but that was only for my sister's birthday :) )

um almujahid said...

assalamu alaykum

do you ship to England?

Warda said...

Wa alaikoum essalam warahmat Allah wa barakatou, if you are interested I can always ship you the pastries you want, it usually takes between five to six days to Europe, but you understand that there might be some breakage and also additional fees for international shipping. If still interested, send me an e-mail at: almeida.pastries@gmail.com. maa essalama.

sarah said...

really excited for you, hope this blossoms for you into something bigger and that you are recognized for this. I so wish I was there to eat and buy. the food looks amazing and the last pic of your family reminds me so much of my own family back in algeria.

Warda said...

- Thank you so much Sarah! What I love the most about this photo is that though the "meida" is just tiny, they are more than 10 people around it, which is just what food is all about.

Anonymous said...

a quand la recette du kaak

Mom said...

It is so good! I am glad to see you in Ann Arbor....hope to see you at the winter market.

Warda said...

Thnak you, Cindy! It was good to see you today. Stay warm! :)

Aisha said...

Mabrook 3leyk warda! I'm so happy to see your dreams come true (not to mention your beautiful delicate pastries! Quel tour de main!) It must be so rewarding for you to see your efforts and your heritage recognized by people living so far away from Algeria. And bringing them a sun-kissed orange blossom water-filled chunk of happiness must be a wonderful feeling.
Allah yewafqek, may you have much more success ahead of you!

Warda said...

- Aisha, thank you so much! That's very sweet of you. I've been so lucky and blessed with all the people I've met, the new friends I've made and when I see that what I do is being appreciated and people are coming back for their favorites...I have to pinch myself to believe it. Our pastries deserved to be known and shared with everybody and I am so happy to do what I am doing :)

Anonymous said...

Yum.

John Box said...

What a heartfelt post. I was deeply touched by your passion for pastries and how you channel enough courage to pursue your love and dreams. And boy, the Algerian Pastries look so amazing! I wish I could eat one right now!

Wendy said...

Wonderful post!

Joy Juicer said...

What a beautiful pastry. I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks.

Colleen said...

I have been missing for awhile...but be assured that not many days go by where I don't think about you and your beautiful family sweet Warda-Rose. What a stunning idea and I do hope that it is continuing and that you are doing well at the markets. Hugs xxx

Warda said...

Colleen, my dear, thank you so much! Likewise. I hope you, your kids and grand kids are all doing well. I saw your "like" on my page lately and instantly, though I've never seen your photo, knew that it was you. In my heart I knew. Thank you for the kind wishes and your constant friendship and kindness. Hugs.

Sun Cuisine said...

mashaAllah I love the pics and the recipe too :)
I am so pleased to see such a nice blog on Algerian cuisine :)

wishing you Love and Blessings,

Kelthum

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What a heartfelt post. I was deeply touched by your passion for pastries and how you channel enough courage to pursue your love and dreams. And boy, the Algerian Pastries look so amazing! I wish I could eat one right now!