Despite the run of gloriously sunny, yet slightly chilly, weather we’ve had for the past week or so, winter has returned to us. The Moroccan word for “winter” is the same as the word for rain, so literally winter is the “season of rain.” Here in the mountains, the rain comes combined with cold, biting winds and consistently chilly temperatures so that you get wet and cold any time you walk outside, but things take forever to dry so it’s wet and cold the entire day.
Enough of that, however. To take my mind off the ominous clouds outside, let’s talk about something way more fun: food.
Here in Morocco, food has become an integral part of my day. At around 8:00 a.m. every day I go downstairs for breakfast with my host mom. I’m the first one to leave the house in the morning, so I usually eat by myself while she sits and works on making buttons for coats people wear here called jillabas. Breakfast is a wedge of “Laughing Cow”-type cheese with several chunks of baguette, jam, and coffee with hot milk.
Lunch I have on class days with the rest of my language group. The six of us go to our language instructor’s house where an awesome local lady serves us what she has prepared for the day – beans, chicken, lentils, sometimes beef. Usually some sort of vegetable comes with it and a big pile of fruit for dessert, depending on what we bought at the market. Other training groups go home to eat with their host families, it just depends on your community.
The third meal of the day is most closely related to what I call “tea time” in the United States. Kaskrut (breaking of bread) is a meal Moroccans typically eat anywhere between 5-7 p.m. and includes tea, bread, jam and usually a variety of pastries or olives or other small foods.
Dinner doesn’t come until 10 p.m., and depending on the size of your kaskrut or if it’s a holiday, can be anything from a bowl of soup to a full dinner like chicken or beef.
Moroccan meals are eaten in groups, with one platter or dish of food in the center of the table and all the diners arranged around the table eating from the same dish with pieces of bread to grab the food with. We usually use forks for pasta and spoons for soup, but normally people eat with their hands – the right hand as the left is reserved for the bathroom. Also, water glasses are shared, one or two for everyone around the table.
Bread is an integral part of any meal. Besides large round flat loaves, there are a range of different breads: mlawi – a flakey flat bread fried in oil; harsha – another flat loaf made of a rough flour also fried in oil; sfunge – a circular fried bread that looks like a doughnut but isn’t frosted; a type of round bun with sesame seeds on the top that I forget the name of. Baguettes are also widely available.
Usually the different types of bread show up at kaskrut and meals are eaten with just normal bread.
Couscous, which might be one of the more famous Moroccan dishes, is eaten for lunch on Fridays. It is served as a base, covered with meat and a pile of cooked vegetables – zucchini, squash, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and chickpeas. Friday is couscous day because Friday is the big day for going to the Mosque and the couscous can be made ahead of time and eaten when the family gets home.
Dessert after lunch or dinner is usually fruit or yogurt.
Safe to say I am eating very well.