Da da da da… Here it is! The first of many food-related posts.
We’ve had “tajine” for lunch every day since we got here: Stewed meat and vegetables with spices, sometimes with raisins or apricots, sometimes with chopped almonds sprinkled on top, savory but not spicy hot. Tajines are delicious, but can get a little repetitive after a while, and we’ve caved and ordered Pizza Hut a couple times. (The second time, the delivery guy on the phone interrupted me with, “Oh! Vous êtes le groupe américain!” when I gave our address. Oui, c’est nous.)
Friday is always Couscous Day. Huge plates of couscous with meats and vegetables on top, and a pitcher full of buttermilk to drink.
On Sunday, two of us had lunch at the home of a Moroccan woman who works in health-related research and spent one of her Ph.D. years at Emory University. She told us she would introduce us to Moroccan cooking. She’d already stewed a chicken with ginger, saffron, salt, pepper, and chopped onions. We helped her stew apples in a small saucepan with water, sugar, and a little cinnamon. We sprinkled the apples over the chicken. The result was a perfectly mouth-watering combination of savory and sweet! She also made beef with sweet stewed prunes, sesame seeds, and almonds.
A Moroccan dinner often includes salads, and their concept of a salad is a bit different from ours. Leafy lettucey salads are not as common as salads of chopped cucumber, tomato, and cilantro. Or mashed eggplant with spices, which they eat with bread, and which sounds nasty but, trust me, is actually one of my favorites. Every meal also includes round loaves of bread. Everyone eats directly from the serving dishes instead of from individual plates, and if you want to really step it up a level with your Moroccan-ness, you’ll forget your fork and eat with bread instead. This is no country for the germophobes or the gluten-free. Dessert is often a plate of bananas, grapes, and apples. And mint tea – made with fresh leafy mint, of course, and served in a beautifully carved silver tea pot – follows dinner.