Lillian is from Fargo, North Dakota and currently participates in the 2017-18 Morocco academic year program.
As any exchange student knows, food is one of the best parts of living abroad. I feel like so much of a culture is shown through food. In Morocco, not only is the food delicious, but the hospitality surrounding food tells you a lot about Moroccan culture. I’ll talk through some of the most important things surrounding Moroccan cuisine, and then include some pictures of my favorite foods!
“Kuli” (eat!), is a very common phrase to hear when being served a meal in a Moroccan home. Food shows hospitality in Morocco, and feeding you is a way of welcoming you. I have found that my host family actually gets worried if I don’t eat a lot at a meal because food is such an integral part of the culture. When I went over to my host mom’s family’s home for the first time, we were fed so much couscous and tea! Often, if eating from a communal plate, the host will give the guest the best parts of meat. Since I am a vegetarian, my host grandma kept putting big chunks of squash and carrot in my area when we had couscous.
Atay bi Nana
Mint tea is a seriously big deal in Morocco. I have probably had at least 2 glasses of mint tea every single day since I’ve been here. I have it in the morning, at a cafe, after lunch, and at dinner. It is prepared with tea, mint, and a TON of sugar. I’m not that big on mint, but atay b n3n3 is zween bzef. I haven’t been to a cafe without mint tea on the menu, and it has become my go-to drink. If you look up a Moroccan tea ceremony, you’ll see them pouring tea in a really awesome way.
I would argue that couscous is one of the most delicious foods in the world. Of course, I’d had it before in the US. But nothing in the world could compare to Moroccan couscous. Couscous is generally reserved for Fridays only, and it’s eaten at lunch. It usually consists of tons of soft, cooked vegetables, couscous, meat, and some kind of sauce on top. Usually, the whole family will share a communal dish of couscous, and you use your hand to ball it up and eat it.
I have ingested copious amounts of juice recently. Everywhere you go, you can find juice in Morocco. Also, the amount of variety of these juices is astounding. I have seen everything from orange juice, to avocado juice. My favorites are definitely mango juice or banana juice, mmmm! I love to just stop on my way to school, or to the medina, and get a nice juice.
I have been in Morocco for over 2 weeks, and I think I have literally had bread with every single meal except for couscous. There are so many types of bread, I can’t even count. Some of my favorite are msmen, harcha, and the round bread I buy often from the hanoot. Harcha is made with semolina, and it has the texture of cornbread. Msmem is the best bread here, and probably my favorite Moroccan food. It is this soft, flaky dough that’s stacked in layers and cooked, and it is the best thing in the entire world. I eat it a lot for breakfast, it is good spicy or with honey!
On one final note, being a vegetarian in Morocco is hard. It’s easy to find falafel, bread, and lots of vegetables. However, it’s really not common here. I know I have likely ingested chicken broth that is hidden in things, and I try to just not think about it. It’s definitely possible, I’m just trying to be flexible 🙂