Thursday, February 28, 2008


Food is both a great pleasure and a great bore depending on how you look at it.
We all - almost all - love eating it.
It's less interesting planning it and shopping for it - unless that's how you want to spend your day.
This is a little 'hanut' in the souks -look how tiny the shop is and how unpackaged and fresh the veggies are.

In Morocco, one spends a greater proportion of one's time dealing with food - which can be fun. Look at the goodies in the patisserie..........

This is what the table in the courtyard looks like at lunch time - a sort of shrine to fruit and flowers.

IMG_0161.JPG, originally uploaded by schmidwix2.

This last picture is of one of Ismail's mother's tagines........which take hours to cook and prepare and are worth it in the end.
I'm going to add a little essay here about our experience of food in general on Morocco.

When we moved to Marrakech we realized we would have to rethink our food shopping. In New York we had been spoiled by having D’Agostino’s, Chelsea Market and the Farmer’s Market in Union Square all within walking distance.
But one of the delights of moving here was discovering how everyday things differ from at home. The first, and most obvious thing, is how plentiful and inexpensive fresh fruit and vegetables are - great heaping piles of little oranges, grapes, bananas, dates and olives in little hole-in- the -wall shops and on handcarts on every street. I buy fresh manderins or oranges most mornings to squeeze to accompany either flat, round bread or baguettes just delivered from the bakery. You can get cereal including Frosted Flakes - my favorite - but since the milk is different, fruit, bread are apricot jelly the best options.
There is a covered market by the Mellah - old Jewish quarter - where chickens, rabbits and pigeons hop in cages awaiting their doom. Some people take the birds home still alive suspended from their bicycle handles: at least they are certain the food is fresh.
The Mellah market also sells beautiful roses for only 20 dirhams for 20(about $2.50). The vendors always throw in a few extra as a ‘petit cadeaux’ - little gift. Often when I carry the flowers home I’m approached by a Moroccan who asks for one “Por Moi?” - and I’m happy to oblige.
For lunch we mostly have a picnic in our courtyard - bread and cheese and salad with bright red tomatoes, and olives of course, either spicy green ones or small black ones. In the afternoons carts appear with macaroons, napoleons and miniature croissants.
For dinner we often have chicken with whatever vegetable seems most abundant that day. I haven’t yet mastered the tagine - a melange of meat and vegetables arranged beautifully with the meat inside, slow cooked all day under a conical earthenware hat.
However, our guardien Ismail, a young man who looks after the house when we are away and generally makes our life easier, has a mother who is a mistress of the art. What hours she must spend chopping and spicing. We have never met this excellent cook but, when we ask, tagines or couscous or harira soup appear at our door at 7:30 pm. Harira soup, thick, full of beans and vegetables, is traditionally served - with dates on the side - to break the fast during Ramadan when no food is eaten by observant Muslims during daylight hours. You can imagine how everyone longs for dusk to fall. There is also another soup - a bit like porridge and not nearly so exciting served at that time of year.
Because you buy everything fresh, we were here for four months before we realized we needed a can opener - to open the can of cranberry sauce thoughtful friends sent by post from America for Thanksgiving.
So, all in all, we have a very healthy diet with almost nothing packaged, frozen or canned. Everything is convenient and available within a five minute walk. The only things we have to go on a bus out of the old part of the city to get are bacon, hard cheese like Edam, and, of course, beer.


Tracy said...

Delicious post, Elizabeth, I like the dish you show! I love food...the planning, the shopping, the cooking, the eating--everything about it! Happy Day ((HUGS))

Joanna said...

What wonderful food you have. I some times fear food here is in a sorry state, all those packages. Its hard to find fresh veg that is not all packaged up and it does not make it taste better. i was wondering how vegitarians might fair in Morroco. Its hard being veggie and travelling in Europe and south america, we always end up eating pizza. i have not been to many other places.

High Desert Diva said...

Oh yum! All that fresh food. And you don't have to bother with recycling all the (over) packaging.

I love that you get a little present of extra flowers....

Elizabeth said...

I think Marrakech is the ideal place to be a vegetarian - so much fresh fruit and veggies but also lots of dried fruits - dates, figs etc. which I personally don't like but are very plentiful and inexpensive.
Diva:Yes. The lack of packaging is a major plus. They try to give you plastic bags but I insist they pop everything into my sturdy shopping basket.
I try to be green.......

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Your food looks absolutely delicious! Oh, I'd love it there!

And you live in a 500 year old house? That is amazing!

Happy day!


Frank Gardner said...

Oh Elizabeth, I should have looked after lunch, now I am very hungry.
I love being able to buy fresh fruit and veggies without the packaging, wax, etc.. and fresh picked, not picked green so it can be shipped to you.
Do you have any recommendations for cooking with a tagine? We were given one as a gift and we have not tried it out yet. That dish looks yummy.

Sara said...

This was wonderful to read about...I hope you do more little essays about life there! I love all the wonderful fresh foods you get to enjoy there...and that carts come by bringing dessert and croissants...mmmmmmm!

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

You have just given me a serious bout of wanderlust. What a wonderful post!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

I am enjoying your posts so much! I hope you would not mind if I add you to my links. This delightful blog should be being enjoyed by many!

Mélanie said...

Moroccan food , miam miam

weirdbunny said...

I love to go too food markets when on holiday. There you really get a sense of what living in a country is all about.

weirdbunny said...

Oh I left you a reply comment in my post on St. Davids day.

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I decided to look through your old posts, hoping to find something on Moroccan food, and--voila!---was rewarded when I came across this post. The choices and the freshness you enjoy in Morocco sounds heavenly. I think I have to go and brew some mint tea right now! I love how the Eastern cultures spice their meat...using spices that we don't normally use on this side of the world for meat. Like cinamon, cloves, allspice.

I wish I had come across your blog earlier, but I will enjoy digging through the 'older posts'...