A Plate for Every Palate: Savoring Morocco

Student Submission

By Manpreet Kaur

 

Originally published in the February 2016 issue.

 

As night fell, eating away the warmth of the day, the restaurant opened at 5 p.m. on Saturday evening. My first dining experience at Seattle’s Marrakesh Moroccan restaurant took me back in time to Dubai where I had the pleasure of dining in at the exotic Sultan chambers in the desert. However, I was surprised to learn that Morocco is in fact an African country. Its food is a fusion of Mediterranean, Arabic, and the indigenous Berber cultures. With its richly textured Moroccan rugs, intricate lamps, carved, low wooden tables, ornate silver urns, embroidered tapestries, exotic spices wafting through the kitchen, and the rhythm of Gnaouas music filling the air, all my senses were enchanted upon entering. It felt like the inside of the genie’s bottle.

“Water?” asked the waiter, dressed in a traditional, maroon colored embroidered draping, while I was gazing at the ambience. The place was filled with people, many of them spending a typical weekend catching up with friends and family, and few others like me exploring new places and food. It projected a close sense of home dining. In my home country, in many regions, people eat seated on the floor with their hands

rather than with silverware. Moroccan food is also eaten with the hands. The waiter came up with a decorative, silver bowl filled with rose water. He demonstrated the traditional hand washing ceremony, and I, likewise, did the same. I was completely intrigued by the processes of the

ceremony, and the rich heritage of Morocco which it reflects.

Anna Bronus stated in her article, “Moroccan Food: It Is About More Than Just Tangine” that “Traditional Moroccan cuisine is peppered with

elements from the Berbers (tangines and couscous), The Arabs (spices), and the Moors (olives), and of course with a history of French

Colonization, there’s a dash of pastries and cafes.”

To start, the chef served a Fassi pie, made with chicken cooked in spices topped with a sweet layer of toasted almonds and cinnamon, all wrapped in a warka pastry with a traditional salad dish as a starter to warm up the stomach. The Fassi pie was ultimately mouthwatering, and its cinnamon seasoning made me want it even more.

I wanted to have an authentic Moroccan experience, hence I went with the chef’s recommendation, the chicken brochette- a grilled marinated boneless chicken seasoned with paprika, and served with Basmati rice. The dish had a pleasant smell, and the chicken was spicy and flavorsome, similar to the cooked chicken in the Middle East. It was rich in spices, and it caught my taste buds off-guard. Families in Morocco bake their own dough. There is a famous saying that in Morocco, every neighborhood has five things: a mosque, a school, a hammam, a fountain, and a

communal wood-fire oven. As of such, the bread was plentiful; two full baskets on each table. The focal point of the evening was a belly dancing performance. It was an entertaining and a lively addition to the night. It also encouraged diner’s participation, which definitely added charm to the evening.

Finally, the entrée was wrapped up with a beer-colored Moroccan Mint Tea as a sign of hospitality, which the waiter jokingly referred to as a whiskey. The waiter poured it from a metal teapot into the glass from a great height, and the resulting bubbles made it look even more appealing. A chilled milk pudding was served at the end too, totally toothsome. Having served with plethora of multi-cultural food, I can restate that

Morocco is home to one of the world’s greatest and most diverse cuisines, with a variety of culinary influences,  making the most of seasonal

ingredients. The entire Moroccan food experience was mesmerizing. I was so overwhelmed with my encounter with Moroccan food that it

inspired an interest at study abroad in Morocco, and learn about their culture and history. With a big thumbs up, I would recommend everyone to try Moroccan food. Your true Moroccan experience awaits.

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