The Food Issue

Grilled turkey breast over sauteed zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, potato and onion.

Grilled turkey breast over sauteed zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, potato and onion.

We have eaten some amazing Moroccan dishes over the last few weeks, and we finally started bringing a camera to meals to capture images of what we are enjoying.  Since we never know what will be served, we have also taken photos of the foods that were rather surprising to be served.  My dietary compromise of eating poultry but not meat meant I was (blessedly) not expected to try the sheep stomach that was served two days ago.

Sheep stomach, which we were told is a delicacy in Morocco, and also very hard to cook well.

Sheep stomach, which we were told is a delicacy in Morocco, and also very hard to cook well.

However, based on the smell alone I was very proud of my husband for sharing this meal with our family while I ate some stewed vegetables.  He told me afterwards that it was definitely a practice in mind over matter to eat this unusual dish, but he also hoped it didn’t become a regular part of his diet while we are living with our host family.

But enough about sheep stomach.  Yesterday Thomas, Zakia and I joined the other CBT members for lunch at Thia’s host family home where we were treated to a truly incredible meal of whole roasted chickens (THREE WHOLE CHICKENS!!!) served over an incredible caramelized onion compote and then topped with French fries.

Just So. Much. Food.  But so good I can't even begin to express it in words!

Thia at lunch. There was just so much food! And it was so good I can’t even begin to express it in words.

This main dish was accompanied by various side dishes such as roasted eggplant dip, grilled cauliflower, stewed peppers, and three different kinds of olives.  Man, was there a lot of food served!  There were eight of us at lunch, and Thia’s host mama, Hadija, only stopped insisting we eat more when we were practically falling out of our chairs and begging for mercy.  There was lots of joking by Hadija and Zakia about how Peace Corps volunteers go home with a ‘Morocco souvenir’ of a bigger stomach.  Although we all ate way, way, WAY more than we needed, Thomas had it the worst, because Zakia and Hadija were adamant that men should eat twice as much as women.

My first henna experience.

My first henna experience.

After we were finally finished with lunch, Hadija told us there was a ‘surprise’ for the ladies, and we were treated to our first henna-ing by a lovely young woman who is quite skilled at doing henna.  What an amazing end to the event!

Here are some more pictures of what we have eaten over the last few weeks.  Left to right, top to bottom:

1. Chaariya b lahlib: thin noodles cooked with milk, olive oil, and a bit of sugar, and then topped with cinnamon.  It tastes like a very mild macaroni and cheese, and it’s delicious!

2 Couscous with vegetables: Moroccan families traditionally eat couscous every Friday for lunch, and our home is no exception.  Expert couscous eaters use the right hand to combine a piece of vegetable into a small amount of the couscous to make a ball, and then toss the ball into the mouth.  I have tried this and failed (aka: I had couscous all over my face and down my shirt).  So now I use a spoon.

3.  Three whole roasted chickens over a caramelized onion compote and topped with french fries.  ‘Nough said.

4. Our standard breakfast: Bread with olives and olive oil, milwi (olive oil crepes) and ‘sfouf‘ (a crumbly mix of crushed nuts, cocoa and spices), and Lala Fatima’s spectacular coffee, which is spiced with cinnamon, pepper and thyme.  Can’t think of a better way to start each day!

5. Fava bean tagine with tomato and onion.  This one had some meat, but often it’s just the beans.

6. Salad of beets, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers, and some olives.

7. Lubia: White bean stew with tomato and spices.  That’s a standard loaf of bread next to it–Lala Fatima makes bread daily.  The salad next to it is tomatoes, onion, cucumber and olive oil.

8. My finished henna designs-lovely!

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