Part 2 in a 3 Part Series
Though I experimented at home several times with the Moroccan spice palate, I never fully experienced its vastness until my culinary tour of Morocco. Not only was I amazed by the markets selling domestic fresh produce and live animals, I was struck by how so many spices can be combined to enhance the already amazing ‘terrior’ of the food. The spice palate of Morocco is influenced by myriad Mediterranean and African cultures. It is citrus and spice and everything nice. From citron and parsley to cumin, cinnamon and paprika, meats and vegetables always have a healthy dose of gentle flavor that compliments the ingredients perfectly.
Couscous is the staple that probably comes to mind when most think of Morocco, but the cuisine is much more than those tiny steamed grains of semolina. Moroccan cuisine blends spices such as saffron, cumin, and coriander with fish, chicken or lamb and vegetables, slow cooked in a tagine to compliment the couscous. Carb haters beware! It is all consumed by using bread to get it from the tagine or skewer to your mouth. From the skewered, grilled meats and the flame top earthenware tagines loaded with a full meal to the ras el hanout (Moroccan 35 spice mixture) and harissa, I became familiar with cooking techniques and spice mixtures that help to define a culture.
The Moroccans share their love of sugar with the world; however, in Morocco it is consumed in the national drink, mint tea, and not pastry or candy. The amount of sugar in this lovely hot beverage, consumed in tiny glasses, is reminiscent of Southern Sweet Tea, but sweeter! It is deliciously refreshing on a hot day and is the Moroccan way of welcoming visitors. Everywhere you go you will taste the hospitality.
Next time you travel, don’t forget to eat what the locals eat. People always want to share their culture through food. There is no better way to learn than through eating.