So remember that time we ate shark?
Now that the research period for my Independent Study Project has begun, I have moved out of the old medina and said goodbye to my homestay family — except when I visit for Friday couscous.
Because my research examines the political discourse around the recent case of Amina Filali, and the demands of civil society to reform legislation contributing to the phenomenon of underage marriage and marriage of minors to their rapists, I chose to stay in politically dynamic Rabat.
However, I left the whitewashed walls and twisty impasses of the old medina and moved into a beachside apartment in the kasbah with a few friends from my program. Since we no longer have our homestay families to share meals with — or our Moroccans mothers to cook us incredible tagines or bake hersha and rif for teatime — the roommates and I have been whipping up whatever recipes we can with ingredients we buy from the vegetable souk and local marchie.
We have made everything from sautéed eggplant, cucumbers and onions medleys and stir-fried chickpea, tomatoes and pea dishes, to cinnamon-infused rice and La Vache cheese omelets. In lieu of a baking oven, we’ve used the stovetop to pan-sear cake batter — and prepare a surprisingly fluffy albeit toasty chocolate cake. We’ve also picked up mystery meat from vegetable street… only to realize after 45 minutes of it still sizzling in the skillet that we probably should have picked up sardines instead of a half kilo of shark.
While I’ve been enjoying every bite of my lemon-and-peppered green bean, cucumber and carrot salads and juicy orange-and-apple breakfasts, I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t have more time to spend in the kitchen with my host mother and learn Moroccan cuisine. At least I have a knack for preparing traditional tea: a palm-full of dried pellets, a couple twigs of mint leaves and a few spoonfuls of sugar.
The more time I spend in the kitchen, the more excited I get about going back to the souk where local, fresh foods abound. While the cost of living and shopping locally is far less expensive in Morocco than it would be in the U.S., I’m looking forward to visiting the Farmer’s Market and possibly looking into CSA shares upon my return to Ithaca in the fall.
Goodbye dining halls and Terrace dorm buildings! Hello apartment kitchen, fresh groceries and a gradually building recipe book with inspirations from Morocco.