Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eating my way around the world...

Morocco, even more than France, has a beautifully direct relationship with food. The lettuce in the market is still grimy with earth and the butchers in the medina hang fresh camel heads out in front of their counters. Whole fish stare out blindly from their display piles, and it's impossible to ignore that tonight's delicious dinner was only yesterday a creature very much alive. None of these things are sterile or packaged, but my culinary wanderings thus far have brought far more flavorful joy than digestive ills. There is a McDonald's in Fes, but it hasn't yet tempted me. I don't much miss the supermarket or processed edibles...not when for 20 dirhams I can walk out of the marché central with a kilo of clementines, three apples and a mound of strawberries, or about four pounds of fruit for just over $2. My temptations are massive bright oranges, translucent early asparagus, and bold peppers both familiar and foreign.

The sense of abundance is overwhelmingly lovely, and I want nothing more than an oversized straw basket and a paring knife - though a complete kitchen certainly enters my dreams. I buy dates, olives, almonds and preserved lemons, finding all my traditional favorites and discovering ever more. On Saturday, Tara and I prepared a multi-course feast including lamb, citrusy beets, avocado hummus, stuffed dates and strawberry-asparagus salad, spending the morning in the market and the afternoon in the kitchen. Even settling for those things I can eat without cooking, I have a veritable feast of fruits, cheeses and cheap dark chocolate on hand. Here I have whole cumin, cinnamon bark, wild honey and harissa, and until an American grocery store can offer wares as fresh and as savory, I intend to find happiness instead in the kind of cornucopia only my Mediterranean markets can offer.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

And I thought the French had corrupted you. ;)

Actually, that sounds great.