May 15, 2019

Morocco, part 2

 Kefta (lamb beef meatball) Tagine with a poached egg in delicious spiced tomato sauce.   
The food in Morocco was possibly the best part.  They have a strong bread culture, and the bread that was served with every meal was fresh and delicious.  Tagines are a wonderful way to prepare food, in general, but in particular while hiking between very basic guesthouses (Gîte_d'étapes) where you (or a mule) must bring all of the cooking supplies (including the gas and burner).

Merguez and vegetable tagine.
Morocco is much more of a dry country than I realized.  For the entire 7 days, we only ate at one restaurant that served alcohol.  We also went to one bar in Marrakech, and it was one of the few places we visited where they obviously preferred French to Darija.

We were invited in for tea at a Berber home.
Linguistically,  Morocco is one of the more complex places I've ever visited.  While Darija is the official spoken language, in most of the places where we hiked, the people spoke a Berber dialect.  Unlike standard Arabic (which I studied briefly 15 years ago, but have completely lost all memory of and cannot follow at all except basic things like thank you, excuse me, etc.), after a couple of days in Morocco I found that I could occasionally follow Darija a little bit thanks to the context of knowing what was being discussed (typically logistics around hiking, eating, driving, etc.) and the French and Spanish cognates embedded in the language.

Lemon Chicken, one of the traditional Moroccan dishes
(preserved lemons and cooked olives -- wonderful)
Part of the reason we'd selected Morocco, was that I wanted to go somewhere where French would be useful.  And it was. But interestingly, almost everyone we spoke to preferred English to French.  Much like Vietnam, there appears to be a generational preference, where the older folks who were educated in French prefer it to English, but the younger folks wish to learn, practice and speak English. There is currently a big debate in the country about whether they should move their STEM education from Standard Arabic and French to English or not.  Standard Arabic, French, and Spanish are all languages of outsiders who came to Morocco and ruled them.  Whereas English is seen as the international language, and Morocco is one of the few places that doesn't have a history of British colonialism.

The weather, wildflowers, and views while hiking were perfect
  Overall, even with the dog bite, it was a fascinating trip and we very much enjoyed ourselves.

Kefta Tagine, fresh chopped veggies, mint tea
and views of the Atlas Mountains
while listening to the call to prayer echo 
down the valley


Arvay said...

That food looks wonderful! Thank goodness the dog didn't do worse damage. Aside from humans, I think mean dogs cause more injuries than any undomesticated animal.

Biting Tongue said...

@arvay -- I agree that dogs are a force to be respected, and, at times feared. This time, to be feared...