While tourism is Morocco’s main deal, agriculture ranks in there, too, although at only 14% of its total economy. But to look at the country as I have these past days, it seems like agriculture accounts for way more than just 14%. This place is vast! I have been surprised to see it all: olives and consequently olive oil, argan products, wheat, salt and oranges. And I’m probably leaving something out. Oh, fishing! It’s beautiful and often reminds me of midwestern USA.
Lamb in tajine is amazing. Lamb brochette (skewered meat, barbecued) is fantastic. But the cutlets eaten today in a small town outside Meknes is something I will never forget. Ever. These cutlets are cut directly from the lamb that’s hanging on hooks right in front of you. So in other words, it’s fresh. The guy stands there with his big knife and cuts off what you desire. Then the butcher chops it all up for you in the cut you request. Then the waiter brings it by to show you before it’s barbecued. Then the Moroccan salad arrives along with some olives from the region (Meknes is famous for its olives and olive oil). All this along with bread to sop up extra juices along the way. As if all of this isn’t enough! Then the guy delivers the freshly cooked lamb and you think to yourself that there’s no way you’ll ever be able to eat that pile of just-meat. Especially after the salad and olives and the ubiquitous bread. But then you take the first bite of the crispy-fat and the succulent meat and you’re hooked. I can guarantee that. It is a flavor that I will not forget and that I’m afraid I am now hooked on and will crave. Forever.
Fridays are for couscous. And it seems every Moroccan follows this tradition. Mokhtar’s sister and her family were kind enough to invite me over to enjoy it with them! It was the best couscous I’ve ever had. Amazing! It had kind of a spice to it and she served fresh hot peppers with it besides. She will give me the recipe and allow me to make it with her next week when I return to their home.
It was great spending time with these family members! Four children aged 16, 12, 7, and 2. Lots of energy and joy in that home! And such love. It was really a great time. The home is beautiful, which is always fun to see, but it was comfortable and they are wonderful hosts.
I slept on the Moroccan sofas in the living room with the 12 year old daughter and it was an excellent nights’ sleep with donkey hooves sounding down the street in the night, cats fighting, birds singing, and all kinds of other Moroccan city sounds! And then the call to prayer which always first wakes me, then lulls me back to a deep sleep. Ah, Morocco!
It’s Memorial Day weekend coming up and I’m already packing my car for the long weekend – – and for the opening of my cabin. This year it’s different since I’m bringing a tajine along with all of my spices suitable for Moroccan cooking, including my recipe books and my Moroccan Arabic books. Usually I make tuna salad or broil steaks but this year the focus is on tajine and further perfecting my Moroccan cooking skills. And since it’s predicted to rain pretty much non-stop (and I’m not dreading that), I have plenty of time to read the recipe books and do some cooking in the tajine. I might even try my hand at baking some bread and making a Moroccan salad. Can’t wait. When I return to Morocco in September, I want to be proficient with my cooking skills to at least help make dinner at Mokhtar’s family’s home when we visit M’Hamid. We shall see…