Big Girls, Global Kitchen: What I Ate in Morocco

Posted by on Monday Jul 12th, 2010 | Print

the couscousiere: small kitchen tool extraordinaire

Last week, I walked in my door after 22 hours of travel. My shirt smelled terrible, but my backpack still smelled like Morocco. Filled with spices, preserved lemons, and the last bites of a flatbread we didn’t finish on the plane, it was an instant reminder of the trip, as if I could have forgotten already. But to ensure that I don’t forget–at least the food–I’ve created the following slideshow–a memory for me, a recap for you.

Alex and I drove from Casablanca, where our flight landed, to Essaouira, with Alex’s friend Melodee and Melodee’s friend, Hind. Melodee and Hind switched off driving the under-construction roads while I drowsed in the backseat, waking up only for couscous (it was Friday, Couscous Day). We spent time at the beach and at restaurants, eating fresh fish, and we walked through our first set of medina streets filled with vendors hawking deliciousness. Then Alex and I went on to Marrakesh, where we indulged in trid at a restaurant Hind had recommended. Trid is a dish that’s nowhere near as famous as tagine, but I loved it. It’s a spiced chicken stew, containing lentils, tomatoes, and lots of onions, and it’s served with extremely thin layers of torn steamed dough, very similar to the dough of the pan-fried flatbreads we came to love. We also made a point of eating lots and lots of glorious street food in Marrakesh–we just couldn’t resist.
Leaving the city for the mountains, we encountered simpler, heartier food: turkey tagine chock full of vegetables and slices upon slices of local, ripe melon. From the High Atlas, we traveled to Rabat, where Melodee and Hind both live. The last evening of our trip, Hind showed me how to make trid from scratch at Melodee’s apartment, and we ate huge servings of my new favorite dish. I bought a few things at the market myself and, working with what was available, baked a fragrant fig cake for dessert, which I’ll post about soon.
Here’s a photo account of many of my delicious Moroccan meals and snacks:

jus d’avocat (avocado blended with milk) at the windsurfing beach Sidi Kaouki

bread

fish tagine with onions and preserved lemons in Essaouira

lamb and apricot tagine

spicy rghiaf–pan-fried flatbread filled with spices & onions

the stalls at the Djeema al Fna, next to where we ate saucisses with fresh tomatoes and khobz

food stalls at the Djeema al Fna

mint tea*

hearty breakfast in the High Atlas Mountains

picnic by a Berber village: rice, salad, and kofte sauteed with onions and peppers

walnut tree in the High Atlas

figs from the souks in Rabat

harsha, spongy pancake-like breads at the Rabat medina

we bought disks of these stretched strands of dough for making trid

the cake I baked with the figs (and wonderfully fresh walnuts)
Not Pictured: copious amounts of freshly squeezed orange juice; breakfast spreads of flatbread with butter and jam; various tagines; lentils; chicken and kofte brochettes; merguez sausage.
It was a wonderful trip, both at the table and away from it! Stay tuned for more–in the coming weeks, I’ll post more about the cooking we did and report back on attempts to make rghiaf at home.
From my kitchen, influenced by Morocco’s, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

*I thought that Moroccan mint tea was way too sweet, so I jumped at the chance to have the sugar cubes on the side. But of course when I tasted the unsweetened tea, I decided it needed sugar and added a big old cube. From then on, I stopped complaining about the tooth-aching sweetness and decided to enjoy it!
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  • http://twitter.com/thepeche The Peche Food Blog

    This makes me want to drop everything and catch a plane to Morocco. Looking forward to the coming updates.

  • Melodee

    I love merguez sausage almost more than life!

  • http://penniespoundsandponderings.blogspot.com little girl in the big world

    This food looks amazing. The tangine looks like it was tasty. I’ve only ever been to Ghana and Ethiopia and haven’t experiences the North African flavors. Do they use palm oil a lot too?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      not much palm oil–olive oil seemed to be the bulk of it. argan oil too.

  • http://www.alittleginger.com Maddie

    Holy crap. This looks like an *incredible* trip. And it reminds me that I sorely need a vacation. Until I board my plane to Croatia in September, I’ll return to this post as a reminder of that adventures that are always right around the corner!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Can’t wait to hear about your trip, Maddie! I don’t really know what you eat in Croatia.

  • http://myfancytuna.blogspot.com/ Sara

    Wow, that all looks so wonderful! I’m glad I can at least vicariously eat Moroccan through you!

  • Katekenner

    Food looks amazing! The best way to recap a trip is with food.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      This is an excellent point.

  • http://twitter.com/PestosWPanache Lauren Stewart

    What a fantastic trip! I love the photos of the bread and especially the figs, I’m sure they were fresh and unlike anything we get in the US…Thanks for sharing!

  • lisad

    Beautiful photos – what an amazing trip.

  • http://thepeachykeen.blogspot.com/ Lydia

    Wow looks like a great time!

  • http://LivBites.com Liv

    Cara, I went to Marrakesh a couple of years ago and was BLOWN AWAY by how sweet the mint tea is! Puts our Southern sweet tea to shame.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      It really was intense! I heard it described as “mouthwash”–the combination of the mint and sweetness.

  • http://bite-sizedfoodie.blogspot.com Loraine

    Beautiful pictures and sounds like you had a great trip! Just makes me smile at how there are so many similarities between countries’ cuisines… in the Philippines they drink avocado milkshakes, akin to the Moroccan jus d’avocat

  • kate

    Hey BGSK– This question isn’t directly related to the post, but all the beautiful dishes in these pictures reminded me of my need for pots and pans! I am moving into my very first house, with 3 other girls. We’re all just out of college, have a good sized kitchen (we can all easily be in it), and all love cooking. But, we’re all also teachers, so budgeting is definitely a concern. I was wondering if you could suggest some good brands and some must haves for a new kitchen. I am used to my mom’s amazingly stocked one, but thought you might be able to point me in the right direction. Oh, I am also in Arkansas, so online shopping would certainly be important. Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try out your recipes in my new house.

  • Mirauncut

    thats how i love my tea, super sweet! that trip mustve been a culinary dream. yum!

  • Thiswitchykitchen

    Hi! I found your blog through F.G.

    This post was really wonderful to read and see-beautiful photos. I was intrigued, as part of my family is from Algeria. I want to visit both Morocco and Algeria so much, but it’s just not in the cards lately…
    I’m glad you were able to experience such a wonderful trip. North Africa is very special place culinarily speaking or just speaking (smile).

  • Culinary Gatherings

    Wow, your photos are incredible from Morocco and I am absolutely dying to go there. How was all of the street food and spice markets?

  • Alyssa

    This is brilliant. It makes me miss morocco… I was a fellow student of Anna, Melodee’s room mate, and met you over dinner in Rabat. I’ve been following along on your website, this is fabulous stuff! Keep it coming:)

  • http://juliamenn.weebly.com/

    I want to visit Morocco so badly – this post made me remember my goal and smile. I can’t wait to see and taste all these glories for myself one day :)