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The Taste of Morocco

Sep 4

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9/4/2010 1:30 PM  RssIcon

 The Taste of Morocco By Brett Davisson

      The pristine beaches, deserts, and snowcapped mountains of Morocco make the country one of the most diverse places in the world. Along with the unique landscape, the rich cuisine of Morocco combines traditional meals from centuries ago with modern and refined dishes. This unparalleled blend of food that accommodates flavors from Middle Eastern countries is exclusive to Morocco, but world renowned.  
 
      My journey to Washington D.C., along with a group of talented writers, exposed me to an abundance of ethnic cuisine of which I had never experienced. As a group, our taste buds were treated to food that, until then, I had never known existed. An array of extraordinary cuisine including Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean were all exhibited over the unforgettable week. The most exotic, however, was the Moroccan cuisine that I was introduced to, alongside my new friend, Henry.
 
      In the midst of a Washington D.C. heat wave, our group was on its way to tour the city on a particularly oppressive June evening. The thermometer on the bus read 100 degrees.  News that the air conditioning system on the bus had broken quickly spread to the back of the bus like wildfire. Although our appetites had been somewhat stifled by the intense humidity on the bus ride, our instructors soon brought in the next ethnic meal of our week-long ethnic food excursion.  The dinner of choice, Moroccan cuisine served from an authentic restaurant in Washington D.C., was something that I had never seen before.
 
      The Moroccan dish that I dined on contained some familiar items such as a grilled chicken breast, pita bread, and a colorful, fresh salad made up of tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers. Alongside the food I had once enjoyed back home was Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad composed of finely chopped parsley, bulgur, mint, spring onion, and various herbs with a light coating of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. The contrast of lemon juice and onion provided a unique and flavorful surprise.   Another first was Saffron Couscous, a deliciously light dish comprised of semolina, spices, and pine nuts. It was served cold, which everyone agreed was an appropriate accompaniment to the chicken, which had a savory flavor and was seasoned to perfection. The grand finale to this incredible meal was Baklava, a sweet pastry composed of phyllo dough, nuts, and honey. This dessert choice proved too tempting to pass up, humid weather or not, and seemed to be enjoyed by all.
 
      During the final stages of the delicious foreign meal, we learned a little about Moroccan food preparation, origins of the ingredients, and what gives this style of cuisine its flair.  The use of many spices in Moroccan cuisine is a tradition that has been used for thousands of years. Many spices are imported to the country for cooking that give the food a unique, International taste. However, oranges and lemons, critical to the multiple salads served with each meal, and saffron, mint, and olives are all grown within the Moroccan border. In addition, Morocco also uses pepper, parsley, sesame seeds, cumin, anise, and various other spices that provide a taste that cannot be found anywhere else. The unprecedented spice, flavor, and tradition of Moroccan cuisine attract food critics and tourists alike, and bring in people from every corner of the world to experience authentic local fare.
 
      Our group finished the meal at sunset, which provided a satisfying end to a hard day’s work.  True Moroccans, however, consume their main meal at midday. This dish usually contains several salads, couscous, lamb or chicken, and bread, which is eaten with every meal of the day. Similar to what we had for dinner, this meal is traditionally eaten year round with the exception of the month of Ramadan, the greatest religious observance in Islam, in which fasting takes place from dawn to dusk.
 
      To accompany the array of Moroccan dishes was a cup of green tea with mint, the most popular drink in the country. Drinking green tea has become an important ritual of everyday life for Moroccans, and preparation of the beverage is crucial. Considered to be an art form, the drinking, preparing, and pouring of green tea is critical to the Moroccan ritual. After being poured into glasses, sugar cones join the delicious drink. The taste of the green tea was very different from what I would normally buy in a grocery store. The mint, which is an aid in digestion, gave the beverage a strong flavor.  I enjoyed the last of my tea as we pulled up to the Lincoln Memorial.  I found it thought-provoking how so many worlds collide every day in our country’s great capitol through taste, sight, smell, and sound. 
 
      Moroccan cuisine has been perfected over hundreds of centuries, and still incorporates traditional ingredients with modern dishes. It is rich, diverse, and internationally renowned. Tourists from every corner of the world come to Morocco to see the majestic mountains, glorious plains, vibrant culture, and phenomenal cuisine. The trip to Washington D.C., along with my writing colleagues, was an amazing experience that I will never forget. The array of foreign food that I experienced gave me a new perspective on international relations, and shed light upon the vast, unique cultures of other countries. Moroccan cuisine gave me a new look into the magnificent culture of this extraordinary country, and I consider the experience one that I will never forget.  

 


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