Hi kids. This week we will speak about food. Isn’t that exciting? I love food of all types. Firstly, different foods are prepared in a variety of ways to make it tasty. It can also be related to a particular culture. For example, I like curry which is an Indian food. What types of food do you like? I bet you enjoy your meals when someone at homes makes it. Well, since I’ve been here in Morocco I’ve eaten a variety of foods, all very yummy. However, I’m not as lucky as you are to have my mommy’s home cooked food. When I return to the United States I bet she will cook me all my favorite dishes. I’m excited. I live in a dormitory. Do you know what a dormitory is? We don’t have stoves in our building. We have hot plates. They cook very slowly. I make two very simple dishes, soup and pasta.The soups that are supposed to take three minutes to cook, take me 20 instead. I don’t make the fancy one either, just the ones I can buy in packets at the store. I can’t cook to save my life. My mother always prevented me from going near the stove. She feared I would blow up the house or injure myself. She said she did not want to lose her only child. The hot plates don’t enable us to make anything too special. I think my attempts at cooking don’t come out too badly though. At least I can eat what I make, even if no one else can. Our food here is prepared at the university’s restaurant.
My university is an American styled one. The students here therefore learn just the way American college students do, and the way you will one day also. Hence, alot of the food here is American. We eat alot of the things that I bet you like to eat also. There is chicken nuggets and fries. Don’t you like that, especially when it has ketchup? I know I do. There is also a pizzeria. That’s a place where pizza is made. The cooks also prepare spaghetti with sauce. Yummy. Many tourists visit Morocco. So, when you go to restaurants in my town and in other towns, you can easily find these foods also.
I feel that since I’ve arrived in Morocco, I’ve even been eating healthier too. At my university there are two restaurants, a cafe and a store. I buy snacks and ingredients at the store all the time. There are many types of juices. Many of them are made right here in Morocco because this country has many fruit trees. There are also many different flavors of yogurt and cheeses. In addition to the fruits, there are many vegetables such as lettuce and beets. The cooks here arrange these into salads. You should eat these too. They are good for your health. I don’t like the taste of the beets though. The other day I ate it for the first time. There are cookies and chocolates too. At first I ate those, alot. I really like Lindt chocloates. These are made in Switzerland. Can you find that country on the map? All these things are found in all the general stores throughout the country. Now is different though. I am observing Lent. This is the Chrisitian religious season of fasting. Do you know what a fast is? The local Muslims also have a season like that. They call it Ramadan and it takes place later in the year. During that time, Muslims do not consume any food or drink from sunrise to sunset. They say that during that time hunger makes them grumpy. I can relate to that. I’m a grouch when I’m hungry too. So, for my fast I’m not having sweets or meat. I’m surviving quiet well. However, things get difficult sometimes because most of the foods contain meat. I am yet to find a Moroccan who is a vegetarian. That’s a person who does not eat meat. I found that Moroccan dishes are made with locally grown ingredients, namely the fruits, vegetables and spices.
Speaking of yummy food, Moroccan food is unique and delicious. In fact, the local cuisine is world famous. The tasty food is one of the main cultural features for which Morocco is known. Even in the United States, one can find many cookbooks on Moroccan food. So, what makes their dishes so renowned? They are diverse. I’ve eaten a number of local foods. Firstly, there is the bread called khobz. Some bake it at home and others make it in outdoor community ovens. It is round and very thick.
Tajines are stews that are made in earthern pots of the same name. The stew consists of lemon juice and spices such as ginger. It is slowly simmered in the vessels. There are vegetarian and meat tajines. The vegetable ones have boiled potatoes and carrots and so on. Big dried grapes and pickled olives are included. The meat tajines can have beef or chicken depending on one’s preference. I ate a vegetable one the other day.
The first time I ate khobz I thought it was delicious. I reminded me of grandma’s homemade bread. I had a hard time tearing it tough because it was so thick. Sometimes it was a little difficult to chew and swallow too. I knew my teeth were strong though and they wouldn’t break. At other times, when I ate khobz made by other people, it was easy to chew it. I like to eat it alone. Most locals here eat it with their tajines.
For the tajines, the first taste I detected was the lemony flavor. The vegetables tasted very much like the way we make boiled vegetables in the US. It was tasty. I ate it with khobz. Since I didn’t have any chciken, I was soon hungry again tough.
I also often crave couscous, but it’s only served at my university on Fridays. I can get it in the marche at other times though. That’s French for marketplace. Couscous is little bits of wheat and is produced locally. At the mills, flour or semolina is mixed with water and then steamed into the little granules of couscous. Semolina is the bits of wheat. It’s appearance and taste remind me of rice. Couscous however is circular and each one is way smaller than a grain of rice. It’s also served with vegetables, meat or stew all of which are placed on top of the couscous rather than at the side. It’s a very popular Berber dish among locals and visitors, especially the French.
Lastly, Moroccan mint tea is very popular. Everyone can be seen drinking it at any given time. It’s made with mint leaves that are grown locally and lots of sugar or none, depending on how one likes their tea. The tea is simmered in a special metal teapot. When pouring, the pot is held very high to ensure that the tea gets lots of bubbles at the top. Moroccans also rarely use spoons to mix the sugar in. Instead, the tea is poured out once into a cup, then back again into the pot. Sugar is added and then the tea is poured into the cup again. Sometimes we drink the tea with the leaves still in the cup. This always make my tea more minty. Others sometimes remove the leaves. I like to have this tea after my late afternoon classes. It makes me feel refreshed. Here is a recipe. Maybe you can make it one day if you get your hands on some mint leaves. Until next time kids!
Green Mint Tea Recipe – taken from “Authentic Recipes from Morocco: 60 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Land of the Tagine,” by Fatema Hal. “The more mint you use, the more fragrant the tea will be. 4 cups (1 liter ) water 1 teaspoon Gunpowder tea or other Chinese green tea 4-6 lumps of sugar 1 bunch fresh mint, washed and patted dry 1. Boil the water. Put the tea in a small teapot. Add 1-2 glasses of boiling water, then discard the water, making sure to leave the tea leaves in the pot. Add the mint to the teapot and fill it with boiling water. Add the sugar. 2. To serve, pour out a glass of tea. Pour the contents of the glass back into the teapot and repeat 3-4 tims until the ingredients are completly mixed. Serve. Preparation time: 10 minutes.”