Category Archives: Moroccan food

Harira


*scroll down for English*

La tradition veut que la harira soit servie pendant le mois de Ramadan, au repas du ftour. Fait à base de viande et de tomate, on y ajoute pois chiches, lentilles, vermicelle, persil, coriandre…avec quelques variations. Il n’y a rien de mieux quand on est affamé, que ce soit à la fin d’une journée de jeune ou, dans mon cas hier soir, après un cours de yoga. Heureusement, cette soupe est servie toute l’année dans la plupart des restos marocains, pour moins d’un dollar/euro pour un bol.
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Traditionally harira is a soup served during Ramadan when breaking fast. Meat and tomato-based, with chickpeas, lentils, vermicelli, cilantro, parsley…or some variation of those ingredients. There’s nothing better when you’re weak with hunger after fasting or, in my case last night, a yoga class. Fortunately, it’s available year-round in most basic Moroccan restaurants at less than a dollar a bowl.

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Shopping in Derb Sultan/Mers Sultan


A souq in Derb Sultan.

A few minutes away walking, the Acima grocery store in Mers Sultan where, FYI, photography and filming is not allowed…

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Couscous du vendredi chez Solidarité Féminine


*for English, scroll down*

Sur la terrasse de l’Association Solidarité Féminine, “pour aider les mères seules démunies et chargées d’enfants en bas âge à se prendre en charge par leur propre effort.”

Les femmes aidées par l’association sont aussi formées pour travailler dans plusieurs entreprises. L’association comprend un hammam, une esthéticienne, et un restaurant où on sert tous les vendredis le couscous. Ça vaut largement la peine pour 35 dirhams, ce qui va directement à un organisme qui aide les mères seules tout en encourageant l’autonomie chez une partie vulnérable de la société.

On the terrace of the organization, “Association Solidarité Féminine,” which aims to help poor, single mothers with small children manage their lives and empower themselves. (translated, from this article).

The women served by the association also receive job training to work in several branch businesses. The Association runs a hammam, a salon, and a restaurant where they serve couscous every friday. It’s 35 dirhams well spent on an association that addresses the needs of single mothers and works to empower a very vulnerable section of society.

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Filed under Moroccan food, Women's Rights

Salaaaaaaaa…Salaaaaaam…*


On Sunday afternoon I got an email from a Moroccan friend that ended with this: “Alright, see you at the wedding tonight.”

Uh…what wedding?

Kind of awkward, right? Well, not really.

    -I don’t know anything about a wedding tonight, but have fun!

    -OK, well now you know. Do you want to come?

I’ve never been to a Moroccan wedding, but everyone has stressed that an ‘ers (عَرْسْ) it is THE event to experience. Two fellow Ambassadorial scholars, Annemarie and Jacob, have given really thorough accounts of their Moroccan wedding experiences, which you can read at Amidinns.blogspot.com and Jacobinmorocco.blogspot.com.

Seriously, read them. They both have a lot of details that I didn’t do such a good job of recording myself. In Annemarie’s account you’ll find a timeline, something which prepared me for the long night on Sunday. Jacob even got the chance to hang out with a wedding band!

There’s a lot about Moroccan weddings I’m in no way prepared to explain, and in any case we cut out early—at around 3:30AM.

What I can say, though, is how bizarre and pleasant an experience it was to be welcomed as a total stranger to someone’s wedding. There was no seating arrangement except for the one table reserved for the bride, groom, and close family. So I just joined a group of people who work for the IDMAJ association. The bride, actually, works with IDMAJ.

There are some events leading up to the night of the wedding party, including a henna night for women the day before, but I came just for the main party:

A few dinner courses, served starting around midnight. (You’ll recognize the first one as Pastila–this time with shrimp, though)

The “wine glasses” there are filled with Coke or Sprite, Tabiat alHal.
* * *
Dancing.

This picture was taken well into the night, after the men in the room had finally gotten up to dance.
* * *
The bride. It’s all about the bride.

First the white outfit…

Then the red outfit…

And finally the blue. So far. Like I said, we left early.

Cameras flashed everywhere, and flatscreen TVs projected images captured by the videocamera guy who roamed the party almost the whole time. Somewhere in Casablanca there’s footage of me being very awkward.

I dunno, guys. I came away less with the feeling of having “Experienced a Moroccan Wedding!!!” than of having attended a wedding, albeit with Moroccan customs, decoration, dresses, and music.

Which, incidentally, was not exclusively Moroccan. In fact, at one point I recognized a Lebanese wedding song because I’d heard it just last weekend, at my cousin’s wedding in France, to a man who’s part Lebanese.

The thing is that the French weddings I’ve been to are also kind of crazy, if crazy means staying up all night eating until you’re beyond stuffed, dancing and performing wedding traditions. One tradition de chez nous in particular struck my friends as absurd: at the end of the night, the small group of people who’ve made it that far– I did not– will take a huge pot of onion soup (a.k.a. “French Onion Soup,” har har) to the bride and groom for everyone to share. I can no more explain this than I can explain why the Moroccan bride has so many outfit changes. Parce que c’est comme ça.

*The title of this post refers to a cheer/chant that women call out at celebrations. It’s starts out with: Sala wa salaam! and goes on for a good twenty seconds, ending in you-yous all around.

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Filed under Moroccan food, Moroccan traditions, pictures

First tagine at the apartment!


I spent the day with Alli, an American friend and fellow Rotary groupie, and my roommate Fatima. The three of us went on a trip to the souq and the butcher’s to stock up on ingredients for a really tasty dinner, prepared by my roommate.

Chicken with chickpeas and raisins, spiced with cinnamon, saffron, and ginger. Served with bread, of course. For dessert, choice of pomegranate, raisins, or apples.*
* OK not raisins, but grapes. The French side of my brain is taking over the American side.

* * *
Alli is a photojournalist who’s done some work on the Rotary Polio Campaign in India. Fatima is a Franco-Moroccan exchange student for the year, and a sweetheart of a roommate.

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Pastilla


Today for lunch: pastilla!

Here’s an example of a special, as in Not Everyday Moroccan dish. Traditionally, the recipe calls for pigeon, but today’s was made with chicken. I got a list of the basic ingredients while we ate lunch.

Usually I’ll just pipe up in the middle of a family conversation, apropos of nothing, with remarks about the food: Is that peanut I’m tasting? (actually, it’s almond, mixed in with the chicken) Hm, there’s a lot of butter at the bottom. Delicious! That’s cinnamon! That’s sugar–how do you say powdered sugar?

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Eid Mubarak Said!


Today was Eid al Fitar, the holiday that marks the end of fasting for Ramadan.

I’ve barely had any chance to write about Ramadan, but you should know that it’s a month-long holiday that floats around on the calendar. Since the Islamic months correspond to lunar months, Ramadan (simply the name of a month) starts and stops on a different day every year. You don’t ever know for sure when until religious leaders have observed the appropriate phase of the moon and declared the holiday to have begun or ended.

Last night, after sundown, someone in charge in Morocco saw a sliver of the new moon, and Ramadan was declared to be officially over. Eid mubarak said!

After we heard the announcement on TV, I went with my friend and her mom to get some groceries. The street was buzzing with shoppers scrambling to make calls on the payphones, hail taxis, and get what they needed for that night’s and today’s marathon of cooking and eating.

A bunch of sisters (to my friend) and nieces and nephews came over after ftour and we had carry-out roasted chicken with fries and pizza, before turning in for the night at around 3:30. Only about two hours after my normal-ish bedtime during Ramadan.

Today, the day of Eid, also happens to be a Friday. Friday is to Muslims as Sunday is to Christians, a holy day. This is when you traditionally have couscous here. It’s not a religious thing, or a strict rule, really. It’s just a custom. In any case couscous is an intense dish and really filling, so not an everyday thing anyway.

couscous

Before and after couscous, family members were coming and going, and phones were ringing nonstop with calls from family and friends wishing each other a happy Eid. Even Maroc Telecom, one of the major wireless companies, sent out texts to wish its customers happy Eid.

I’ve been psyched about how many kids have been hanging out here–in the new outfit they usually get for Eid– because I still understand next to nothing when I’m sitting with adults, accommodating as they might be to my limited derija. Tata turns out to be just one of the many adorable little kids related to my friend.

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Filed under Islam, Moroccan food, Moroccan traditions, Morocco, Uncategorized