Greetings my beautiful lovelies! It’s Emmy. Welcome back to another episode of Hard Times where I explore food and recipes from times of scarcity. Today, I’m gonna be exploring a recipe that comes from Haiti. Now, I’ve heard about this recipe for a long time, and it is for dirt cookies, also known as bon bon terre or bon bon te or galette. And these cookies were presented as a way to fill bellies inexpensively. Each little cookie puck cost 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 increasingly become more dependent on international exports, and with rising food costs many people are unable to purchase or buy food so these dirt cookies were presented as a way to deal with hunger and hunger pains, and also a way to make a small amount of money. So in my research, I found a video by the World Food Program — I’ll put a link to it down below — here on YouTube that explains a little bit more background about these dirt cookies or galletes. In actuality, there’s a longer history of eating these cookies and it’s not just to deal with hunger. So these cookies were often eaten during pregnancy by pregnant women as a source of nutrition and for minerals. And, in fact, it is quite common for pregnant women to have certain urges or cravings that they ordinarily wouldn’t have if they weren’t pregnant. It’s believed that the fetus is telling the mother what nutrients and minerals it needs. So, of course, clay and dirt contain naturally occurring minerals and women that are pregnant often feel satiated when they have that little bit of clay or dirt and receiving that minerals. And they find that the taste is actually quite delicious. So the practice of eating earth, dirt, or clay is called geophagy, and it’s been found in recorded history for millennia. So I’ve heard about this Haitian dirt cookie recipe for a long time, but didn’t have any source of clay. But thanks to 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 as kaolin clay. It is used in many different things besides just pottery Including medicines, like 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 medications. And it’s believed the clay absorbs impurities and can also be used to treat food poisoning and kaolin clay is of course also used for facial masks and is often found in toothpaste. So it sounds a bit strange but it actually is more prevalent than you might expect. So the practice of eating soil dirt and clay can be found all over the world including Africa. So it’s 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 purchase clay for the specific purpose of eating it. So with that a little bit of history, let’s go ahead and prepare these cookies. And here it is and if I scratch it with my nail, it’s pretty soft, kind of like talc. It’s very, very fine like talcum powder (I think on the scale of hardness, talc is considered the softest) and doesn’t smell like anything. So, on Grandma’s website they say that you can sterilize this by either baking it at 350 degrees for about an hour or just putting it in the microwave for a few minutes. So it says to place it in a brown paper bag — which I shall do….. Okay, and that’s for sterilizing so here’s my clay I just took it out of the microwave and the instructions warned not to burn it So a word of warning now, I’m gonna use a hammer and kind of crush the pieces of clay bit Wow, it’s hard So how a microwave works is that it heats the water that is inside of whatever you are warming up So the small amount of water that was in this clay, which made that clay pretty soft and easy to scratch was heated up and thus Sterilizing our clay, but it also makes the clay much harder So for those that eat this just as it is it probably affects the kind of experience especially texturally in your mouth So it is much harder than it once was so I’m noticing that when I’m breaking this with a hammer Now the reason why I’m doing this is to make this a much easier when I add the water I want these clay pieces to dissolve Now we’re gonna add our water mmm, did you hear that sizzle clay was hot Amazing oh my gosh, look at that it instantly just turns into clay amazing Oh, it has a lovely smell It smells kind of like, I believe the word is petrichor. One of my favorite words. It smells like wet cement. It’s like right when it starts to rain that smell of wet cement that represents childhood and riding bikes That’s what the smells like, smells pretty good So because the clay is hot listen to that It’s turning into a beautiful white clay, so I’m using my hands here to kind of try to crush this up So what I find really interesting about this recipe is that and much of the mass media This is portrayed as something as a very very desperate desperate measure Understandably, but what I think is more interesting is that there’s actually a history of eating this not just during times of famine but as a Supplement for pregnant women. Absolutely fascinating. It makes absolute sense So now that I have this paste, I still have chunks of clay in there. So now we’re going to further refine it So what I’ve got here is a plastic bucket that I’ve cleaned out. This is food grade I just picked it up from my local bakery I’m gonna use an old cloth napkin and place it over the top and this is going to be my filter of sorts Take some string wrap it around the top, and to get it even tighter, I’m going to use a stick and kind of winch this around now I want this really really tight because this is going to be the filter in which I’m going to process my Play so take handfuls of this and just rub it through So the idea being that the chunks will stay on top and the nice and smooth clay will be pressed through the cloth There are other ingredients in these cookies as well This also contains salt and margarine which I’ll be adding in the next steps in the videos I saw the type of clay look to be a little bit different While it seemed nice and fine like this clay, it had more of a yellow cast to it so the mineral composition of it was probably different than this clay, but I wanted to make sure I got clay that was of edible purity. Alrighty, so here’s my refined clay I put in a bowl so you can see it better and now we’re going to season this. Now, I did find one blog post that said it was ten parts of clay up to about one part of salt and one part of margarine that doesn’t seem quite right to me because that seems like a lot of salt but This is clay after all. It’s probably pretty bland but one part seems quite a lot but anyways, I’m going to add about a half teaspoon of salt and and two teaspoons of melted margarine Stir that together I’ve got a baking dish here lined with parchment paper traditionally these would be laid out on some cloth like a sheet and Allowed to dry in the Sun but I’m gonna speed things up and do it in my oven alright, let’s go ahead and shape our cookies, put a dollop down and Then just spread it in a circle So a big heaping tablespoon I’m gonna put these in a 350 degree oven and bake them for about 20 minutes until they’re hard. But we don’t want them to be too firm. Okay, see ya’ll in a little bit! All righty! So I am back and here are my clay or dirt cookies. As you can see here if this one was a little bit too thin — it got a little over-baked. So what I found is at 350 degrees for the thickness of clay that I applied, this was a little bit too hot So I reduced the temperature to 300 degrees and cooked them for about 20 minutes and it seemed to work better. There was still a little bit of cracking but not nearly as bad as this So I made sure not to over bake these. In the BBC video where the reporter actually try these He said that they had the texture of chocolate, firm and snappy but not so hard as if you’re, you know, biting into a rock. That’s what it looks like on the bottom and let me break it for you That’s what it looks like there It doesn’t have a smell whatsoever. So let’s go ahead and give it a taste. Here we go. Itadakimasu! Wow! It’s kind of an amazing reaction: every drop of saliva in your mouth instantly gets sucked into the clay. It’s a little bit salty, both from the salt and the added margarine in there; the flavor is actually a lot like that petrichor smell that I was describing earlier. The experience in your mouth is very interesting because all of the moisture in your mouth just kind of get sucked up into the clay which turns into kind of a mud like texture in your mouth. It’s a little bit gritty, but a lot finer in texture than you might imagine. It’s not sandy, just a little bit gritty, and I think that has to do with kind of that refining process of pushing the clay through the fabric. So it’s pasty, and you have to take very tiny bites, because it absorbs all of that water. So there you have it: Haitian dirt cookies or bonbon te or galette. Certainly not tasty or delicious by our standard means, but this is something out of necessity and practicality. When there’s not a lot to eat, this will get you by. When you are craving some nutritional supplement, this will get you by. Big thanks to all of you who suggested this recipe. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me the link to Grandma’s White Dirt. Also, please consider donating to the hunger project — I will put a link down below. Please share this video with your friends and follow me on social media. Like this video, subscribe, and I shall see in the next one! Toodaloo! Take care! Bye!!! Hello?