Sitting on a bus heading south to Fes, watching the lovely Moroccan landscape whiz by, I got lost in nostalgia for this place that seemed, as I said, so familiar yet so new. There were fields of lush green with sprinklings of patches of brightly colored spices and picturesque lakes, farmers, mules, shacks, baskets of harvested vegetables, and kids running around avoiding their daily chores.
Nothing can prepare you adequately for getting out of an enclosed vehicle to what is “Fes”. Nothing except, perhaps, a previous visit. It was sensory overload for all 5 senses. Clusters of old buildings, little shops, people, crowded markets filled with dried fruits, meat, live chickens, nuts, bread, jewelry, shoes, leather… Basically anything you can think of is around every corner. People are always out walking around, most women cover their heads with simple scarves. I found it all extremely fascinating.
Moroccan cuisine is worth it’s own full blog. But as I have proved to be horrible at writing as of late, we’ll cram a bit into this one! As I said, all 5 senses were overwhelmed during my stay, but mostly taste and smell for me. I was greatly impacted by the new combinations of flavors I experienced there. In my opinion, Moroccan cuisine should be #1 in the world! Think amazing tea made of fresh spearmint and loads of sugar, heavy flavors of saffron, cinnamon, honey, almonds and other exotic spices and things. They used crazy contrasts of flavors to create depth in a dish.
One night we decided to splurge and visited the 4 star restaurant/hotel, Le Maison Bleu, in Fes. For about $40 each, we immersed ourselves in a complete cultural experience: they served us pre-dining spirits, appetizers, a few delicious main dishes, dessert, live traditional music, and wine. It was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever enjoyed. And man, I still dream about that dessert of orange blossom cream and filo dough. Uff… and the famous pastella.. a scrumptious mixture of cinnamon, powdered sugar, and seasoned meats in an empanada style of dough (think chicken pot pie, sort of, but much much better!). I vividly remember the smells and tastes and the feeling of being in the old palace like hotel, a refuge from the bustling city outside.
So, basically, my trip to Morocco was more like a gastronomical tour… that’s what every trip ends up being like for me! No better way to get to know a culture than to sample authentic local food. It just amazes me that such simple plants give us delicious flavors in themselves, but when mixed with other plants, spices, and foodstuffs can create a divine, harmonious medley of enjoyment.
Ooohhh, thank the Lord for food and flavor!