|Hotel meal- not so typical|
One question that everyone seems to ask when I travel is how’s the food? I have a high tolerance for different foods- I have tried among other things fish eggs, guinea pig, cow tail, and even llama brain. So coming to Morocco, I wasn’t worried at all about the food. The first day I stayed in my first host family, the host mother served us small breaded fish. I assumed that since they were breaded that they were safe to eat and since I didn’t want to be rude, I just plopped it in my mouth. I soon found out that the entire spine and skull were still intact. This was the first of many strange foods that I would have to figure out how to eat.
For the most part, Moroccans eat four meals. Breakfast consists of mint tea, coffee, cheese, jam, and lots and lots of bread. We’ve gotten lucky a few times to when our host mom will make us French toast sticks. The second meal is lunch which is served around 2 pm and usually we are served some sort of soup/ mashed up vegetable concoction along with lots and lots of bread. If we’re lucky we’ll get amazingly juicy honey dew melon or watermelon. Around 6 or 7 pm we’ll have another mini meal. One time we ate French fry sandwiches- no joke. Usually this will be bread and a tomato sauce type of food. Dinner is served any time between 9 and 12 and is pretty much the same as lunch.
Yesterday our host mother brought out a platter of roast beef covered in French fries. In Seattle, I hardly ever eat meat but in Morocco I have found it hard at times to avoid it. So usually I discreetly avoid the meat dishes which are somewhat rare here. When my host mother saw that I wasn’t eating the meat she started gossiping with her sister who was having lunch with us. Now, even if I don’t speak the language I can tell when people are talking about me by the tone of their voices. She kept offering me meat throughout the meal and I would refuse and keep reminding her that I was a vegetarian. This isn’t a concept that is well understood or accepted in Morocco and I understand that. I know that she doesn’t understand why I don’t eat meat so that is why I don’t make a big deal about it. For dinner that day she brought out small bowls of potato and a big bowl of meat. Just meat. I knew I would have to eat it and I was ok with that because I didn’t have a choice. The mother sat down and watched me eat the potatoes for a little bit and then got a big piece of meat on her fork and offered it to me. I refused at first but she kept pushing. I finally gave in and just ate the meat to make her happy and she started laughing and saying “Shwiya nabatia” which means “kind of vegetarian.” This made me furious because she made me eat the meat and then she made fun of me for not being a vegetarian. I knew that she wasn’t going to understand me being a vegetarian but I expected that she would respect my choice. I didn’t make a big deal about it, but I am definitely not going to nice about it anymore.
|Paella in Assilah|
With the meat out of the way, people here joke that the two main ingredients in everything are bread and sugar. And it is completely true. All the drinks are loaded with sugar and we eat TONS of bread. The fruit is ripe this time of year and you can find small pastries and desserts on carts in the medina. A very typical meal is called “tajine.” A tajine is the container that the food is cooked in, like a casserole dish and it can be vegetables or chicken or anything you want. Food is prepared and then cooked for many hours before it is ready and it is eaten with bread. When I say it’s eaten with bread I mean that there are no forks or utensils on the table and you have to use your hands. I know couscous is popular here, but I have not encountered much in the homestay but I have had some when some of us go out. Overall, the food here is good, but not my favorite. I am a big fan of Mexican and Thai food so this is a completely different concept and I am not used to so much bread. When I go home I’m not going to eat bread for months!