About Moroccan cuisine & food
Moroccan cuisine has been in deep interaction with outside cuisines for centuries. Morocco’s food has borrowed different ways of preparing dishes from different cultures like Mediterranean African, Iberian, Moorish, Arab, Middle Eastern, Berber, Jewish... Moroccan cuisine is considered to be one of the most diversified one around the world
Morocco situates at the crossroad of different civilizations, which has greatly influenced its cuisine. Morocco’s cuisine is a melting pot one because you will find various techniques (spices) that are used too in other cuisines to prepare dishes, but the truth is that nothing tastes like the Moroccan spices. Historically speaking, in Moroccan dishes, one can trace the country’s long history of colonizers and immigrants who have left their mark in more than one way. The history of Morocco has a great impact on Morocco’s cuisine because all the nations that had invaded or inhabited Morocco had contributed to the diverse Moroccan food. There was a time when political refugees came all the way from Baghdad, Iraq during the middle Ages to settle in Morocco. They brought with them the traditional recipes, which have since become a part of the traditional Moroccan cuisine. Moreover, Moroccan food has been also influenced greatly by Moors (the Muslim refugees who were thrown out of Spain preceding the Spanish inquisition).
Like everywhere, in Morocco also there are three meals (breakfast/ lunch/ dinner). For breakfast, the majority of Moroccans eat bread with olive oil, tea, and different kinds of Moroccan crepes…Lunch is the biggest meal in Morocco’s houses, family members come from work or school...they all sit around a low table in the salon. Traditionally speaking, before bringing the meal to the table a female (member of the family) comes with a kettle of water, soap, a basin, and a dish-towel which she hangs over her forearm. She comes around every person at the table, pours water to wash their hands and then rinse. Once they wash their hands, they come around the table and the meal starts when the head of the family says “Bismilah” (in the name of God). People are to use their right hand. As soon as all members finish eating a plate of fruits will be served, then tea. Dinner occasion time is not big as lunch, people usually may prepare soup .
Morocco cuisine has two main dishes which are very known to people here: Tagine & Couscous :
Tagine : is a historical Berber dish. There are too many various types of tajines. It can be made in different ways: It is made of meats and vegetables. Some typical tagine dishes include lamb with dates, lamb with raisins or prunes and almonds, chicken with olives and preserved lemon, chicken with dried apricots, and meatballs (or ketfa) with tomatoes and eggs…there are more varieties than this. Traditionally, tagines were prepared on top of a portable clay majmar (much cheaper than a stove!). Every part of the country has its own regional tagine dish and its own way of preparing it.
Couscous : The original name derived from Berber language (Berber: Seksu [meaning well rolled, well formed, rounded]). In Morocco, couscous is generally served with vegetables (carrots, tomato, turnips) cooked in a spicy or mild broth or stew, and some meat (generally, chicken, lamb or mutton). Usually is served sometimes at the end of a meal or just by itself. The couscous is usually steamed several times until it is very fluffy and pale in colour. Couscous is typically made with seven vegetables. To make couscous in the traditional way takes a lot of time and effort. Women separate and mix the grains of semolina by using the palm of their hands and salt water, a process that takes one hour for the semolina alone. Women in some parts of the country still prepare their couscous this way, but most families buy it in packages. Friday is the day of prayer, so it is a Moroccan tradition all over the country to celebrate this day with a couscous meal.
Moroccan Tea (whiskey Berber) : Moroccan Mint Tea, or what Moroccans will jokingly call “Moroccan whiskey”, is the national icon for hospitality in Morocco. Morocco has a tea ceremony of its own. People drink tea informally all day in between meals. But any time a visitor enters a house, the first thing that he or she must be offered is tea. When members of two different tribes meet to discuss issues of the region or politics, a tea ceremony is required before getting into politics. Mint tea is traditionally served in small glasses, although some tea shops will serve it to you in tall glasses with the mint inside. When it is served, the person pouring the tea holds the teapot high above the glasses so as to create a little foam in each person’s glass .