In one of my many midnight conversations with a dear friend, I asked her suddenly, “Why can't chocolate fall from the sky?” She laughed at my question and answered: “You are a glutton. The sky will never help a poor dreamer like you.” I replied, “At least chocolate would do so.”
Then, a year ago, I entered a competition for blogging in Arabic. This required me to write something extraordinary, something that would get attention. My friend encouraged me to submit a story about my chocolate reveries.
I set to work, remembering how much I have loved chocolate since I was a child and how it was the best gift my dad could give to me. I remembered watching the movie, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and dreaming to one day get a ticket to a factory just like that one. Ever since that time, my dad and my friends gave me chocolate for every special day, or even an ordinary one, just to make me happy. In my story, I described a campaign I had heard about, by a young guy who gave tickets to children and asked them to write their dreams on them. The children of Gaza are like children everywhere—they dream of having nice clothes, being able to sing…and eating lots of chocolate.
An hour before the deadline, I wrote the last word and submitted the essay. Then I forgot about the whole thing. Weeks after, the International Committee of the Red Cross (which organized the competition) called me. “Congratulations,” someone there told me. “Your piece, ‘Chocolates and Dreams,’ qualified for the last stage.” May wonders never cease!
In the final stage, people kept asking me about the “chocolates” (the stars of my story.) One friend said to me, “I never thought that chocolate could be inspiring!” Another one said, “Nothing drew me to your piece more than your talk about chocolate.”
Lo and behold, the judges awarded Chocolates and Dreams first prize. And as my little sister told me, “you would never be a winner without chocolate.” After that, my friends called me “Sabeel Chocolate.” Wherever I went, people would greet me by saying, “You are the one who wrote the chocolate blog!”
But the story doesn’t end here. I achieved two dreams thanks to chocolate. The first: For the first time, I published something I’d written, which I had been afraid to do before. Weeks after, one of the editors who organized the competition held a meeting with me and a group of other writers. He encouraged me to keep writing, even in English. Later, I became one of the We Are Not Numbers writers, thus furthering my aspiration to write.
My second dream was to become a chocolate chef. And I want to help you become one too. My best recipe is for a Palestinian Chocolate Crepe.
How to make a Palestinian Chocolate Crepe
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Nutella—as much as you like!
First, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Then, add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is smooth (it's okay to have a few lumps), and add in the melted butter. Let the batter sit for two hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a 5- to 6-inch round skillet or frying pan over medium-low to medium heat until very hot. Add a dab of butter to the pan. Quickly rotate the pan to distribute the butter. Add a tablespoon or two of batter. Quickly rotate the pan to cover the pan’s bottom with the crepe batter.
Return the pan to the flame and cook until the top of the crepe looks dry and the underside is light gold. It will be dry and golden brown in spots. Immediately flip the crepe out of the pan and onto a plate. You can do this process as much as you want. Crepes can be kept warm on a wire rack.
My favorite step is the following: Lay a crepe on a dessert plate. Spread a heaping spoonful of Nutella on the crepe. Then add vanilla ice cream, mini chocolate chips and whatever kinds of fruit you like. (I like to use sliced strawberries, which are one of the few crops the Israeli authorities allow Gazan farmers to export to Europe. You can find them in the farms of Beit Lahia. I also like to add sliced bananas from Jericho or grapes from Hebron, where they cover around 22, 000 acres of land, contributing a strategic source of income for the Hebron Governorate in the south of the West Bank.
Try it… and discover for yourself why I dream of chocolate!
Mentor: Annie Levy
Posted April 1, 2016