Feb 04 2009

Sweets and Legumes in Morocco

by at 12:53 pm

Since I last posted from a hotel in Paris, I have

  • been in more of Paris than the hotel, coughing mightily the whole time and not actually getting to see much as a result (but I did see my parents and my friend Celine from Belgium summer ’07).
  • hung around our apartment attempting to get errands done but more often read stuff on the Internet and slept a lot.
  • gone to England, Oxford and London specifically, for 3 days to visit 3 friends, where I relished in the English language, enjoyed eating a more international and more vegetarian selection of food, drank lots of good tea, and squeezed in visits to several Oxford colleges and the National Portrait Gallery in London for an Annie Lebovitz exhibit.
  • been to many choir rehearsals, as we have a big concert tonight!  We are singing Antonin Dvórak’s mass in D Major and Felix Mendelssohn’s Christus in Lausanne’s main cathedral (of New Year’s burning fame).  We will be accompanied by the professional orchestra of Lausanne (OCL).  Too bad my voice is not quite recovered…

Seth and I will be taking our first overnight train from Thursday-Friday to Rome to meet Michelle (my sister) who will be visiting us for a week.  Michelle’s visit will mark the end of my vacation, sadly.  But before we go to Italy and itch to post about it, we’d better get ourselves over Morocco and soon.  So with that, in keeping with Seth’s photo-blog style on Morocco, here is a post about what we ate.  I actually wrote a nice chunk on this topic (it’s the last bullet point) already, so i will not repeat myself, but try to offer visual evidence.

In Djemaa el Fna, a big, famous square in Marrakesh, there is fresh-squeezed orange juice to drink.  There are about twenty stalls lined up whose proprietors all start waving and hooting at you if you make eye contact with ANY of them.  We were told this was the way to drink orange juice in Morocco, how to make sure there was no tap water lurking inside to dilute it.  The first time, pictured below, it was really great.  However, we tried some again a week later, and it was NOT fresh-squeezed and it definitely had sugar and water added.  We had about two sips apiece.  Fortunately, a glass of fresh-squeezed (…or not) orange juice in Morocco is like 50 cents.  In-between orange juice stands are dried fruit stands, who display the fruit beautifully:

Sipping fresh-squeezed orange juice Figs at Djemaa el Fna

Across the way are hot food stalls set up only in the evening.  We went to one that served lentil soup, honey pastry, and mint tea and sampled the entire selection.  Those white blocks in the lined-up glasses?  The amount of sugar per small glass.  The green stuff?  Fistfuls of fresh mint sprigs.  The silver pot?  Filled with strongly brewed China gunpowder green tea.

Sugar and Mint Awaiting Tea Classic Mint Tea

On the streets in Fes were many honey-almond pastry stalls.  We bought them here because we saw them actually making them fresh.  The question I ask here is, do these pastries look amazingly delicious or actually really gross?  I can’t decide.

Making honey-almond pastries Honey-almond pastries

We went twice to this little restaurant, serving a limited selection of bisarra (fava bean soup), mint tea, and some other soup-like thing but put on a plate.  The soup was delicious.  The second day, the guy who thought he had hustled us in to the restaurant, though we were planning on going anyway, decided to raise  prices from the day before.  Good thing that by this point in the trip, we were trained to set prices before we ordered and started eating.  Seth would not stand for paying more so that this guy could get a commission, and he finally communicated that we were paying yesterday’s prices or not staying.  We stayed.


The Bisarra Cafe

And to end the series, here are some more finds from the streets of the Fes medina: halva and chick-pea subs.

Multicolored Halva

Purchasing a Chickpea Sub

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