MOROCCAN COOKING CLASSES
Morocco, the name itself evokes exotic images. Moroccan cuisine has strong routes in tradition and is rated as THE best in the world. The Moroccans are very proud of their food. The sharing of meals is an integral part of the culinary experience and the foundation of the Moroccan way of life There is a strong sense of family and tribe.
Morocco is an agricultural paradise. The heart of Moroccan cuisine lies in the spices expelling tantalizing fragrance, color and warmth. Set recipes are very rare, each dish will have the signature of the creator, who is always a woman.
The country’s national drink, tea is drunk every hour of the day. Although it is said to be the favoured drink of the Prophet, the truth behind the history of tea is the English who offloaded it in Tangier during the Crimean War. Mint is grown all over Morocco but flourishes in the mountains. The only mint that can be used is ‘mentha viridis’. The best quality, dark with firm stalks, comes from Meknes or the Zerhoun. Freshly brewed na’na’ MINT TEA has become a fine art and a national symbol.
As the national dish, couscous has a strong religious and emotional significance. Made from durum-wheat semolina native to the region mixed with smaller quantities of either drum-wheat flour or a soft-wheat flour, it is usually served topped with a stew. Moroccans believe couscous brings God’s blessing upon those who consume it. Couscous needs to be prepared with patience, rhythm, time and the finesse of the woman preparing it.
Bread or  khubz’, the most basic and essential food is sacred in Morocco. The Prophet ordered that that bread be treated with the utmost respect, so any bread found thrown away in the street must be moved out of the way of foot traffic with a short prayer. Loaves are baked early morning in terracotta gas’a in a communal oven.
One of the cornerstones of Moroccan cuisine. Jewish Moroccans developed the art of preserving using salt. Olives from around Fes and Meknes are some of the best in the Mediterranean. Lemons are preserved in the spring when they are their ripest and sweetest. Some regions add cinnamon sticks, cloves and coriander for an alternative taste.
For a delicious Morocco breakfast, try this yeasty semolina pancake with a distinctive honeycomb appearance. Serve with ‘khli’’ preserved meat.
This pastry is widely regarded as the crowning dish of Moroccan cuisine. This pastry is served to newlyweds the morning after their wedding night to symbolise their family’s wish that life together should be as sweet as this creation.
The Moroccans eat three meals a day, the main meal being around mid-day.
Eating with your hands is a time-honoured tradition. Rule number one: eat with your right hand only, using the thumb and first two fingers. Using more is a sign of gluttony. The left hand may only be used for picking up bread or passing dishes on to other people. Never help yourself to bread, wait until it is given to you. If more than one person apportions the bread at the table, the house will be beset by quarrelling. Use the bread to mop up sauces and clean you plate. Do not lick your fingers until the end of the meal. In the meantime wipe them on the bread or a napkin, if you have to.
Washing is very important - clean your hands before every meal usually with rose or orange scented water.
When at home with a Moroccan family the women may not eat with the family, allowances are made when female visitors are there for lunch. The cook presents the lunch and leaves. The host will announce ‘Bismillah’ (the name of Allah), everyone echoes his salutation. Then eating commences.
If you are full, continue nibbling. If you stop the rest of the table will follow suit.
If offered a gift when invited into a Moroccan home do not refuse – it’s very uncouth to turn down a charitable moment. Be careful not to admire something in the house as they may give it to you to take away. This is the Arab fear of the ‘evil eye’ – the envied object is given away to deter jealousy.
In the same way do not refuse food when offered. The host will always offer food when you enter his home. Three glasses of mint tea and a meal is acceptable. The best portions will be served to you. If you don’t like it – just taste a little of it. At the end of a meal a significant portion of food must remain.
Honour the host. Conversation must be entertaining and praising of the food.
Planet Food: Morocco