WE ARE OFF TO MOROCCO!
I am sure Humphrey Bogart thoroughly enjoyed filming Casablanca, and more so – sampling the wonderful cuisine of Morocco. This country is a feast for all the senses. The food options are endless, but not the alcoholic beverages, which have religious restrictions.
Thinking of Morocco up in North Africa, you might be forgiven if the first picture that popped into your head was that of a desert. To the west of the country, you will find the more typical desert terrain, but to the east is the farming area.
Each medina (or “old town”) is surrounded by walls. Outside these walls, the signs of Western influences are more visible. Eating and drinking in Morocco are activities that are used to celebrate life and especially joyous family time. During Ramadan, meals are eaten between sunset and sunrise, with a fasting period during the day.
Tea time is an important cultural practice. Apart from the soothing qualities of the sweet mint and green tea, they are also used to welcome guests. When you go to purchase an item, you will probably be presented with some tea as a welcome gesture.
Harcha is sometimes consumed with tea. It is a type of pancake made from thyme and semolina. Fruit stalls are plentiful, offering you the chance to choose your favorite fruit. Thereafter, it is squeezed into a refreshing juice, giving literal meaning to the phrase “freshly squeezed juice.”
Tagines are a delicious type of stew and can be bought at very affordable prices. During the cooking process, lots of vfresh fruits and vegetables are used.
Salads are well loved and can be served hot or cold. They are made with either raw or cooked vegetables. Bakoula, made from marrow leaves, is a good one to try, or taktouka if you are more of a garlic fan.
If you want to savor the taste of Moroccan spice, purchase some Ras el Hanout. This famous spice mixture is a combination of 27 spices. When you use it in your cooking, your senses will take a trip back in time.
Although spices are used liberally, food is not “hot” but rather just spicy. Favorites here are ginger, cumin, turmeric, and saffron. Couple this with all the wonderful herbs, such as coriander and flat leaf parsley, and you have the makings of an awesome dish.
Oddly, using plain salt in dishes is not common. Lemon slices are kept in salt for two to three months, after which they are ready to be used as a salt supplement in food.
Honey and yogurt can be found everywhere, but you will struggle to find cheddar or mozzarella cheese. Goat’s milk cheese is a favorite in salads and tastes delicious!
Looking to carbo-load? Bread, potatoes, and couscous are your starchier options.
Apart from tea, the locals prefer chickpea and onion soup.
If you are anything like me and have an insatiable sweet tooth, you will not be disappointed. Nougat stalls are common in the markets, and it is sold by the kilogram! The more local option is the famous Chebakia. The dough is fried, soaked in honey, and rolled in sesame seeds.
With sweet treats in mind, dessert is also an important part of the meal process. Certain desserts are prepared, for example, Kaab el Ghazal, a sugar-topped pastry stuffed with almond paste. The other main dessert offering is fresh fruit.
Whether you only pass through or stay for a while, try as much of what Morocco can offer your stomach as possible. I promise you will savor each bite!