Hubz, ‘bread’ kneaded in quantities by hand. Forget the bread machine, I’m wondering why we don’t all have outdoor ovens.
Circular loaves made from grain that was meticulously handpicked and sorted.
The standard fare and eating utensil for most meals in Morocco. Best eaten when broken in halves and shared amongst friends and family.
Zit, ‘olive oil’ often hand pressed by a friend or member of the family. A rich green that hints at its superiority.
It sits on my counter in what used to be a 2 Liter Coca-Cola bottle. Produced with olives from my counterpart’s farm. Olives that he probably thrashed off the tree himself with a stick and later collected by hand.
Lxdra u dicer, ‘fruits and vegetables’ picked, dug, and plucked from the surrounding farms by workers who live on the edge of town.
There’s a reason they call this area ‘California.’
And what we don’t grow here, we buy from surrounding areas in Morocco. Strawberries from Larache, tomatoes from Agadir. It’s all relative.
Lunch with a family a few weeks ago
Of the things Morocco does right, agriculture is most definitely one of them. Eating locally or organic is not trendy or hip here. You won’t find Lululemon yoga pants wearing, soccer moms stalking Whole Foods like it’s their job here in Morocco. But you will find women in loose-fitting jellabas bargaining for the best prices at souk, ‘the market.’
When it comes to agriculture and organic produce, Morocco is the accidental hipster.
I recently finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, which I would recommend to anyone remotely interested in food culture. Or turkey sex lives. (There’s a whole chapter dedicated to it. I’m officially set for coffee table topics for at least the next two months.)
In the book Kingsolver and her family embark on a one year local eating experiment, only eating foods they either grew themselves or bought locally, with a few exceptions like fair trade coffee and whole wheat.
Given my forays in the kitchen, I was intrigued. Especially by this line:
“Globally speaking, people consume more soft drinks and packaged foods as they grow more affluent; home-cooked meals of fresh ingredients are the mainstay of rural, less affluent people.”
Figs from last summer
Hipsters, yuppies, and frills aside, I find Kingsolver’s remarks to be very true. All of the meals I’ve shared with Moroccan families and friends were created with ingredients bought locally. Most people probably didn’t even use a car to transport it.
The iconic Chinese gunpowder tea is probably the only thing imported from out of the country that most Moroccans consume on a daily basis.
In general, you could spend the same 25 MAD on a bag of chips as you could on fruits and vegetables to last you for a few days. In an ironic comparison to the United States, ‘junk food’ is expensive here. Not the other way around.
How Moroccans choose to prepare their dishes however, is a different story. (Think lots of sugar and oil)
But still, I’d be remiss to not mention how profoundly impacted I am by the cheap and fresh varieties of produce at my disposal. This is not to say that I don’t spring for bananas, or even avocados imported from Latin America. But I’ve never been so in tune with how the seasons affect produce.
Pomegranates in the fall, strawberries this winter, nectarines in the spring, watermelon all damn summer- it’s a beautiful thing.
I’m cheered by the fact that someday back in the US of A I’ll give more pause to shopping at grocery stores and settling for cheaper, yet less refined produce.
I think I’d owe it to Morocco. Or at least to myself…
Spice market in Chefchaouen last December