Magical Morocco 2011
May 6th – 16th, 2011

Friday, May 13th, Marrakech

A morning cookery lesson at La Maison Arabe including lunch! What a great way to experience the true spirit of Morocco. The legendary restaurant at La Maison Arabe today offers cooking workshops designed for the amateur and professional alike. The workshops are conducted by a dada (traditional Moroccan chef) and a translator (Arabic, English, French), and are organized in small groups around easy to- use modern equipment. At the end of this workshop, we will dine on the meal we have prepared.

First we all sat down for a bit of a lesson in Moroccan cooking. The ambiance here was very peaceful. We took notes and read over the material she gave us and then we were ready to be taught….

This is a Moorish influence type of cooking. The pastille goes way back to the 16th century.

Coucous should always be steamed and never cooked

The most popular tagine is chicken and preserved lemon and olives

Never overuse saffron – a few threads only in a dish for two people

They drink rosemary tea in the winter and mint in the summer months

This was so much fun and we all got into it with gusto! While I was running around taking photos and video, the group made two salads, the main tagine chicken with lemon and olives and we watched dada start the bread then they all got a chance to knead it. We also watched how to make mint tea and were shown the ingredients for desert.

After the bread was ready to be backed we took it down two doors to a man below the floor…and watched him put it into his ovens to bake. Each house has their own baskets and bring their bread here to be baked…heaven help you if you give out some one elses bread. This baker was so busy while we were there…wonderful, but very hot!

Ok so back to work…now a couple hours later and we are sitting at the tables eating. I was very lucky as dada made my dishes for me…but now I have the video to watch and two different tagines to cook in that I bought at the pottery place. Everyone also got a smaller tagine as a gift. You must soak your tagine in water for 24 hours before using and it is never used in the oven. You put it on a heat diffuser on a gas stove and you are off to the races.

We needed to walk so Omari took us walking to visit a herbalist and guess what, this is where I was last year, so I knew exactly what I was going to tell everyone to buy. The 35 spices of course for cooking…they had a blast and we had a wonderful lady explain it all to us, and even showed a couple in the group how good a massage felt. Everyone came out smelling of spices, it was wonderful!

Some thoughts on going into medinas…

Watch out! When you hear Balack, Balack, move fast to the sides of the walls as donkeys are coming laden down and do not stop for anyone. You cannot hear them either as they do not have the traditional metal horse shoes. They wear rubber and it is usually tire rubber.

For the most part walking through these areas is an exercise for all the senses. You must approach them as an experience. They are a labyrinth of paths, shops, lanes, people, product, animals and noise. You come out of them exhausted because you have never had all your senses so aware at the same time. But you come out of them smiling because you have just experienced life as it was, as it is now and as it forever shall be…
Everyone came out smelling of spices, it was wonderful!

Back to the hotel to rest until dinner….oh my gosh…more food!!



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