As I sit in a kitchen chatting with my friends (Kawtar, Kenza, and Sou3d) while bits of stomach and liver get wrapped in lines of intestine, I think to myself ‘I’m really going to miss Fridays’. Section by section, I watch as every piece of sheep organ is tied up into a neat little package. This sort of thing doesn’t make me squeamish any more, in fact it has become another weekly ritual. We are preparing couscous which is regarded as a very special meal in Morocco and is traditionally served every Friday. I don’t handle any of the meat, everyone here knows that I am vegetarian. Instead I am busy with chopping and pealing vegetables which will then be pressure cooked and added to the couscous before serving. Like most traditional Moroccan meals, couscous is a long process. During this time we socialize, snack on olives, and share a pot of mint tea. As meal time draws closer more family members begin to arrive; older brothers with their wives and children along with a cousin or two.
When the food is finally ready we gather round a table. It is just one big bowl and a few spoons, most meals in Morocco are eaten from a communal dish. The intestine wrapped meat is divided out evenly and extra vegetables are pushed in front of me. There is more than enough food to go around and most of us eat till the point of needing a nap to sleep off the damage.
It’s like this every Friday. We talk, we prepare and eat food, and then we relax. This plays a key role in my weekly routine, and I look forward to it as each new week begins. I have been welcomed into this family as if I was another daughter. They bring me along to weddings, teach me how to cook, include me in every holiday and birthday, we barrow clothes, I help them with school work, but most of all we enjoy the simple experience of being in each other’s company and sharing a meal together.
Fridays and living in Morocco in general has made me appreciate food in a whole new way. I love traditional Moroccan food. Even as a vegetarian I find that I have endless options. I love the process of slow cooking pretty much everything, giving time for a few cups of tea before eating. I love using pieces of bread in place of forks, allowing every last drop of olive oil to be scooped up from the bottom of a tajine. I never realized how much of a country’s culture could be experienced at meal time. Whether it is the time of day, the spices used, or how long something takes to prepare it all plays into the bigger picture. I now find that when I travel outside of Morocco I am just as interested in the local cuisine as I am in main tourist sites. I look forward to taking part in new flavors and textures that can be found in food from other places. I enjoy watching how things are made or simply sitting at a cafe and spying on what other people order from the kitchen. All habits that I have picked up since living in Morocco, especially from eating couscous on Fridays.