24
Mar
08

The Kingdom of Morocco

In my last year or two of high school, I seriously considered moving to Morocco as a post-secondary option. I wanted to see the world, and I could think of no place more foreign to a farm kid from Canada, than the north-west coast of Africa. I got books out of the library, studied maps, day-dreamed away entire math classes (I didn’t do so well in math). Something about the country had me hooked.

The summer after high school, while working in tobacco, I befriended an Irishman named John. He had been to most of the countries in Europe, as well as Morocco. It was John who first warned me about the dangers of traveling in North Africa for a naive, blond haired North American. I would stand out like a sore thumb, and be an easy target for thieves. He painted a picture of a much more real and menacing but equally exotic location as the one I had been reading about. I decided to hold off on my Moroccan trek.

Life has a funny way of happening to you when you aren’t paying attention. In my last year of college I was approached by a company who wanted to send me to Morocco for two years. I had a diploma in outdoor adventure and could speak french and English, and they were looking for someone to lead convoys over the Atlas Mountains, to the Berbers in the Sahara. I was thrilled at the prospect, but the deal eventually fell through. To make a long story short, their expectations and my own weren’t exactly compatible.

To this day the Kingdom of Morocco haunts me. The Phoenicians, Romans, Christians and Muslims have each had a turn at ruling, and in spite of a very close proximity to Europe, and ties to the Middle East, the country is still very much African. French, Spanish, and Arabic can be heard on the streets, and this blending of histories and cultures is strongly reflected in the cuisine.

Moroccan cooking relies heavily on saffron, mint, olives, oranges and lemons. Green tea with mint and sugar is a common drink. Chicken, beef and lamb are the most popular meats, and couscous and tajine are the dishes most commonly associated with Morocco.

Berber Spice Paste

This is great to have on hand to make almost anything, from chicken and beef, to fish and vegetables, more flavourful and aromatic. A little goes a long way.

2tsp cracked black pepper,

1tsp coriander seeds,

1tsp cardamom seeds,

1 (1 inch) cinnamon stick,

4 allspice berries,

3 whole cloves,

1 small onion, cut into pieces,

2 cloves chopped garlic,

1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, sliced,

1/3 cup paprika,

1tbsp sea salt,

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes,

1/2 cup olive oil,

3tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Add all the spices to a dry skillet over medium heat, and stir occasionally until toasted (approx. 3 min). Allow spices to cool, then grind into a powder.

place onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor. Finely chop. Add spices and remaining ingredients and blend to a fine paste. Use immediately, or keep covered and refrigerated for up to several weeks.


1 Response to “The Kingdom of Morocco”


  1. March 25, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Great topic…I agree Moroccan culture is full of contrast and secrets like its landscape, its cuisine, its people and its building design and architecture from Berber to Arab, to French, to Spanish, Roman, jewish…it is not all of this magic which attract people from all over the world to visit the country firt and to fall in love with its colourful heritage.
    Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. Moroccan food is second best in the world after French food, according to Paula Wolfert, the specialist of Moroccan cuisine. The raison is because of the interaction Morocco with outside world for centuries.
    The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Moorish, Middle East, Mediterranean, Arab, Andalusian, French and African cuisines.
    The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fez, Meknes, Marrakech, Rabat and Tetouan refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today.
    Being at the crossroads of many civilizations the cuisine of Morocco has been influenced by the native Berber cuisine, the Arabic Andalusian cuisine; brought by the Moriscos when they left Spain, the Turkish cuisine from the Midle eastern cuisinesbrought by arabs as well as jews cuisine.
    The history of Morocco is reflected in its cuisine and its culture.
    During your vacation you will experience and enjoy the Moroccan cooking with our chef Sanae from Fez.
    Adam Alami
    Chef, property developer
    and writer about Morocco


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