Saturday, May 15, 2010

Remembering Morocco

In Sevilla, our tour is winding down (but not before tonight's final dinner and horse drawn carriage ride, of course). Spain and Morocco have been a whirlwind, with too few opportunities to write about the experience. While Morocco now feels like a world away, I can still recall sitting on the roof terrace of the Dar Nour by night, surrounded by the layered rooftops of the kasbah, and hearing the day's final call to prayer as the meuzzins one by one began their chant. Unlike most Muslim countries, in Morocco the call to prayer is still sung by a live meuzzin rather than a recording, and the sound spreads throughout the city via the loudspeakers atop the minarets.

Below, the streets are packed with action until late in the evening. Kids and cats roam the twisting alleys while men drink mint tea at tables lining the sidewalks. Many women are out two, making their way though the narrow streets in both traditional caftans and headscarves and skintight jeans, but the cafe scene still belongs to the men.

Some of the best food can be found just outside the prime tourist zone at Le Saveur de Poisson, where one menu is served for lunch and dinner. Take a seat and you will be presented with a dish of black olives, a bowl of housemade chili oil, roasted almonds, and a basket of Moroccan breads. Soon, a bowl of shrimp and couscous soup appears. Dip your bread in the chili oil - it's positively addictive, and far spicier than almost anything you'll find in Spain. Even the flavor othe roasted almonds seems amplified beyond any you've tasted before.

But these simple delights are only the beginning. An earthenware dish of shrimp baked with spinach and cubes of fish soon follows, steaming hot from the oven. It tastes fresh and bright, the shrimp bursting with flavor, the fish and spinach melting together on the tounge. A main course follows of flatfish simply roasted over coals, served alongside kebabs of swordfish. Fresh and meaty, sweet and tender, nothing beats seafood roasted to perfection.

Finally, there is dessert. Toasted barley and pinenuts are mixed with coarse brown sugar and thick, dark honey that is just starting to crystalize, and luscious strawberries topped with the same honey round out the meal. Throughout it all, your goblet is constantly refilled with a home brewed fruit juice, tasting of figs and plums.

Like Morocco itself, the meal is enchanting and exotic. It's also a respite from the crowded streets outside, much like the roof terraces take you away from the bustle of a city packed with people, traffic, and non-ending noise. Spain feels tame by comparison. Here in Sevilla the weather is perfect, the city is beautiful, and the atmosphere is relaxed. But I can't wait to go back to Morocco for another taste of this different world.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Your Moroccan meal sounds fabulous! I love seafood. I didn't realize they eat so much fish there. I love your writing Ruth Ann, you definitely make me want to go there!