April 8

Moroccan Spice

A WALK THROUGH THE MEDINA

         As I walk through the medina, otherwise known as the old city, in Rabat, I am on the lookout for a vendor with his heaps of ochre, crimson, and sepia spices, from whom I can buy what I need to make tajine for tonight’s dinner.

I find him in his little booth and I ask him for the spices for a tajine, s´il vous plaît. He expertly gathers them onto a piece of white paper, no need to measure, making a colorful little mound of powders. To top it off, he adds just a pinch of saffron and folds the ends of the paper, twisting them together so as not to let the spices escape.

Next I stop to buy the vegetables from a woman in the medina; she is sitting on a crate next her small stacks of produce that she probably picked from her garden that morning. I select courgettes, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, and one green bell pepper, enough to make a rather large tajine.

Lastly, on my way home, I stop at the market stand to get hobz, the Arabic word for bread. It’s round and hearty and delicious, each one about the size of my two hands laid next to each other. I take eight, because in addition to being a meal accompaniment it is also our silverware. I arrive home and we begin to cook, Moroccans, North Americans, French, and Polish, ready to participate in the preparation of the meal. People take charge of different tasks; washing, peeling, slicing, chopping.

Then my friend Rachid, our expert cook, heats a bit of olive oil on the gas stove, and begins to layer the vegetables. First, the onions and carrots mixed together at the bottom; next, a couple layers of potatoes, then tomatoes, then zucchini, and finally, green pepper. The spices are slowly mixed in through the layering process.

When it is ready, Rachid brings out the delicious, spicy, steaming tajine and sets it in the middle of the table. We say bon appetit and alhamdulillah, and dig in all together, breaking off pieces of bread to gather a bite of the delicious vegetables. I love the Moroccan custom of communal eating, everyone from the same dish, with our hands instead of silverware. Not only does it make us feel closer together, but it means fewer dishes to wash at the end of the meal as well.

After dinner, my friend Hicham offers me some grapes from the kitchen. Even though I am full, I take a few, because in Morocco, when someone offers you food, you never refuse. In this country, to offer food is to offer sustenance, protection; it’s about much more than just being polite.

{A Walk Through the Medina, short story}

Quote: Michael Crichton

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This entry was published on April 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm. It’s filed under art, creativity, life, photo, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “April 8

  1. That was so artfully descriptive, it made me feel as if though i was there. Not to mention that your post re ignited my desire to visit the country. Great post.

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