Last night my family and I were lucky enough to have Kamal, my French teacher and friend, cook us a traditional Moroccan meal. Why is Kamal capable of cooking Moroccan food you ask? Because he is Moroccan.
The country of Morocco is located in Northern Africa and is about the size of California. (I'm sure you've heard of the city of Casablanca because of the movie of the same name, but that movie was filmed in Hollywood, not Morocco.) The capital of Morocco is Rabat and with over 2 million people, it is Morocco's second largest city. A lovely photo of Rabat from About.com.
Kamal and I shopped for our dinner the night before since he was to prepare it at his apartment. We bought a chicken, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, carrots, onions, butter and vermicelli. Kamal said he already had the spices he needed. I knew we were to have chicken and salad of some sort. At one point I asked him if the carrots would be cooked with the chicken or in a salad. But Kamal enjoys surprises and said I would have to wait and see.
Morocco's resources led to a struggle to control the country by European nations since the 15th century. France and Spain shared control for a while. Finally in 1956 Morocco gained its independence. According to this Department of State web site, Arabic is the official language in Morocco but French is used for business, government and diplomacy.
I picked up Kamal along with all the food he had prepared and we brought everything to our house where Kim, Vanessa and Chris were already anticipating the meal.
It was delicious. Kamal made his version of Seffa Medfouna, which is chicken with vermicelli noodles, along with carrot salad, cucumber salad and Zaalouk which is a cooked eggplant and tomato spread for bread.
Here is Kamal dishing up the Seffa Medfouna for Chris;
Here is a recipe for this dish.
I could have eaten just the noodles, they were that delicious. The Zaalouk was equally as good. And the salads were wonderfully fresh. A recipe for Zaalouk here.
Morocco has a King, but because of the Arab Spring uprisings last year Morocco now has a new constitution that strengthens the role of the parliament and calls for an independent judiciary. So the parliament has the ability to pass laws on a wider range of issues.
From the department of state web site: "Morocco was among the first Arab and Islamic states to denounce the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and declare solidarity with the American people in fighting terrorism. The country has experienced terrorism at home as well. On May 16, 2003, Moroccan suicide bombers simultaneously attacked five sites in Casablanca, killing more than 40 people and wounding over 100. More than a million people subsequently demonstrated to condemn the attacks."
Kim and I visited Morocco six years ago. Here we are in Marrakech eating at the Jemaa el-Fnaa square which according to Wikipedia, is one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world;
We visited the beautiful Majorelle Gardens;
Saw a Moroccan McDonalds;
Drank soda and ate pizza outside our hotel;
and participated with the locals;
View from our hotel room (the front of the hotel faced Jemaa el-Fnaa square);
Thanks to Kamal for a great meal and bringing back some great memories. (Ce poste est aussi pour tu, François. Le temps et le bon sens peuvent quelquefois changer la perspective.)