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Friday, April 6, 2012

Culinary Delights of Morocco

Because I had so many interests in the food of Morocco, I am including a page to show some of the meals and foods we devoured (yes, it was that good).

First, cheers to the Moroccan oranges! Their sinful sweetness had me drinking the freshly squeezed juice daily, as well as sneaking one from the breakfast buffets into my school bag.
No food blog on Morocco would be complete without mentioning the argan fruit, which grows on a rare evergreen only in central to southern Morocco. The fruits are eaten by goats, which are then pooped out. The seeds (white and thin like an almond) must be extracted by hand, using a rock, and then they are ground into an oily paste. The paste is then kneaded so the oil can separate. The seeds are either roasted for the oil to be used in cooking, or they are left raw for cosmetic uses (yes, girls, that's where Moroccan hair oil comes from and why it's so expensive). I purchased some fresh cooking oil, have already used it, and it is delicious! It has a unique flavor, and I will surely be sad when it is consumed, because I cannot afford it in the States.
Moroccans really know how to throw a party! This was a delicious cake--not too sweet and made with bananas and other fruits. Thanks to the English classes of Hassan Ait Man!
A couple of other baked delights made by the students for one of the farewell parties for Tom and I. These filled us up with no need for dinner before our long bus ride through the night back to Rabat.
A sweet shop in the medina in Rabat. The vendor is about to weigh some delightful twisted fried dough with a sauce of sesame and honey.
A lamb and fig tagine dish.
This was a type of fish called Sea Bream. It was served with a celery mash and potatoes.
A favorite salad Tom and I had a few times at the hotel restaurant in Taroudant. We ate there unless we were with Hassan. It was a perfect lunch salad.
Hassan taught us how to make a tagine dish one day for lunch. He cooked his on gas. See the little tent he made with the veggies? That was done after the meat had cooked awhile.
Part of the souk in Agadir. This was the most modern market we saw, probably because Agadir was destroyed in an earthquake in the 60s. Everything was rebuilt. What a plethora of freshness!
A favorite experience was eating at the port at Agadir. They kept bringing us fish! We enjoyed calamari, little shrimp, some whole fishes (not sure what kind) and even sardines.
My lame attempt at cracking an argan nut to extract a seed.

This woman is grinding the roasted seeds using the traditional method (which is still most often used).
One of the reasons everything is so delicious here: fresh nuts, seeds, dried fruit and spices. Can you pick them out?
The photographing pleasures of the beautiful colors were plentiful.
I thought I would eat more couscous, but I only had it once. This one has beef and veggies, and it is commonly served with buttermilk (seen here).
Pigeon tagine. These are farmed liked chickens. Tom read that the walls of Taroudant and other cities surrounded by ramparts were built with holes for pigeons to nest. This was so that if they came under siege, they would have something to eat. Good eating they were too. The meat was dark like duck, though I still like duck more.
A Moroccan salad. Lots of delicious spices made the different parts so tasty and flavorful!
More Moroccan salads and dips for bread, a staple here, both literally and symbolically.

A corruption from the U.S. :-)
Another type of fish and root mashes.
This was probably my favorite salad. It was made of smoked duck. This was more of a French-influenced dish.
Rfsa is the name of this incredibly rich dish. It is piles of buttered and shredded phyllo-type sheets cooked with a rich chicken and onions and legumes. It is a celebratory dish for new mothers. The richness is supposed to help them recover and healthily nurse their newborns. It may not look that great here, but it truly was delicious!
This is a pastille (say it past ee la) This one is a minced chicken that is sweetened and layered in between phyllo-type sheets. It is sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Our group eating at Dar Naji. I could not find a website for it that worked, but it was AMAZING and fun. Reviews for it are here. We had so much fun, but it took ALL night to eat. I'm not sure I could get used to that lifestyle, especially because dinner did not start until 8:00 or later.
This was a fish pastille. I found a website about how to make this and am going to try it sometime. It was not sweet like the chicken one.
My students were not impressed when I showed this to them upon returning. They thought it looked gross, but it was really delicious. These are warm cooked salads, the one on the left being my favorite (eggplant dish call zaalouk).
These are olives. I never knew there were so many beautiful colors and flavors of them. I gained a whole new appreciation for them in Morocco. My favorite were these yellow ones preserved in a citrus-like and cilantro style. Yum!
Moroccans like sweets, so I fit right in. :-) Mostly there was so much good healthy stuff to fill up on first. But they had many types of cookies and pastries, some truly Moroccan and others with French influence.
In the medina in Rabat, Tom Stephanie and Joann (taking the picture) could smell something so delightful that we sought it out and found two types of fried goodness we tried. One was a twisted little strips of dense dough balled up, fried and then dipped or drizzled in a cinnamon-honey-sesame concoction. The other were little phyllo triangles stuffed with minced almonds and sweetness. It was definitely worth the work it took to find where the scent was coming from.
Moroccans are famous for their delicious mint tea. It is a green tea with fresh mint sprigs.
Is there any need for explanation on this? I made my students look very carefully. What are those on the counter? I did not get this daring. :-)
A smoked salmon salad
One of the menus at the hotel. It took some translation.
My friend's dessert...puff pastries with ice cream.
My dessert...oranges with cinnamon (almost as sweet as the ice cream)
Harira soup (a traditional soup consumed during Ramadan). It is sort of a beefy, vegetable tasting soup but without all the chunks. Dates are on the side.
I only included this airplane food because I don't think you would ever see cold smoked fish on a U.S. airline. This was on our flight from Paris to Rabat.