Tuesday, December 15, 2009


While this blog is principally related to simple cooking ideas and recipes, I have included my recent trip to Morocco, both because it contains matters related to food and because I think that you would find it of interest! I am going to tell the tale of our trip in a number of parts - so keep looking!

Part 1 - Marrakesh.
Aviva (my wonderful daughter), James (my wonderful son-in-law) and myself left bitterly cold, wintery Luton Airport in London at 6.00am one Friday morning in November and, after a rough journey accross France and Spain, landed at Marrakesh in Morocco at 9.00am. Travelling from 2C in London to 25C at Marrakesh was quite a pleasant shock!

We were picked up by 'Atlas Amazing Tours', the tour company we had hired for our trip, and an attempt was made to take us directly to our Riad*(Dar One) (*explained shortly) but there was massive activity as a result of filming 'Sex and the City - 2'. We eventually got to our Riad via a back route. It was a beautiful Riad - so peaceful with its water fountain containing swirling roses as you walked in the front door! - Fig 1

Fig 1 - the swirling roses in the water fountain gave a very peaceful effect.

*The average Riad containing several bedrooms and a sitting room, is built in a square around a central open space which extends from the ground floor to the roof. Light is thus let in and available to all rooms.

We were placed in a first floor bedroom. There are two floors and on the top floor/roof, which was open to the sun, we had our breakfasts - Fig 2.

Fig 2 - James and I having breakfast on the roof.

Fig 3 - looking down to the floor - it was extremely serene inside the Riad

When night time came, looking upwards gave the feeling of looking into a void. The two pieces of canvas are used to shade the inside of the Riad from the direct sun Fig 4 a and b.

Fig 4a - Aviva looking out from the roof - note the two pieces of canvas.

looked as they were an 'interloper' at night.

Fig 4 b - looking up into the void.

Marrakesh consists of a Medina - a walled off part of the city - as well as the area outside the Medina. The Medina is constucted with only very narrow pathways between houses Fig 5a and b;

Fig 5a - Aviva in the narrow pathways between houses.

5b - the narrowness creates warmth in Winter and a coolness in Summer.

the house being walled off from the pathways but having an open inside to let the light in. These Medinas were made intentionally in this manner to keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in during winter.

In Marrakesh we visited the Palace of Bahia, the beautiuful gardens of Jardin Majorelle that was established by Yves St Laurent - wonderful tranquil gardens with lots of colour Fig 6,

Fig 6 - the Jardin Majorelle

and tiny tortoises in the water Fig 7.

Fig 7 - tiny tortoises lying in the water and in the sun.

In the Saadian tombs, the Kings 'companions' are buried according to their importance - the lesser favored Queens had flat tombs, the more favored Queens had slight projections at the surface of their tombs Fig 8.

Fig 8 - the less favored 'companions' are buried in the back of this picture; the more favored are buried in the front!

The Koutoubia Mosque Fig 9.

Fig 9 - the Koutoubia Mosque with a 'hangmans pole' at the top! It really points towards Mecca.

We thought that the 'hangmans pole' at the top of the Mosque was to hang people on - but no, it points in the direction of Mecca!

We ate lunch in the French area of Marrakesh - Fig 10 and because it was Friday, we ate a Tagine of couscous and vegetables - Fig 11. It was just delicious, and the chicken Bestila was divine as well! A Bestila is traditionally a combination of pigeon meat, almonds and sugar all wrapped in a filo like pastry - Fig 12.

Fig 10 - the French area of Marrakesh

Fig 11 - couscous and vegetables - yum!

Fig 12 - a chicken Bestila

As far as food stores were concerned, the spices were all amazing; there was just pile after pile of bakery items Fig 13;

Fig 13 - bakery items galore!

and mounds of beans and olives Fig 14.

Fig 14 - beans and olives galore!

The dried fruit stalls were stunning as well. There were four different types of dates with the Medjool date being the most expensive Fig 15.

Fig 15 - piles and piles of dried fruit!

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