Monday, November 13, 2017

anchovy tajines and strawberry trees

One bright blue morning we drove off in search of the green of an Algerian Oak forest. The winding hilly roads twisted my stomach as I sat in the backseat attempting to entertain Baby with an owl puppet and renditions of Bowie songs. After passing through so many dry agricultural fields, we finally reached the forest— and my guts began to spin.

Pedro pulled over to the side of the road (which by now had become rather patchy), and took the opportunity to search for birds while I gathered my head and fed Baby. We were nearly surrounded by strawberry trees— their bright red fruit beautifully popping out from the green, so deliciously enticing. In fact, this was precisely what I needed: to get my legs moving and to eat something. I foraged a handful of ripe fruit that had been missed by the birds and Barbary macaques, and slowly crushed their thin spiky flesh between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, delighting in the sensation. Soon, the sugar did its magic, and I felt a little less green myself.

The oak forest was lush and expansive; a reminder of how there are so many Moroccos. We didn't stay too long though, as it was getting late and we had skipped lunch. On they way back to Chefchaouen we spied a troupe of macaques lurking in the trees off the side of the road, who vanished the second I pulled out my camera. We headed to the Uta el Hammam plaza, where we were certain to find food being served at such an odd hour.

I had heard that the goat cheese in the Rif is not to be missed, and I've had it on my mind ever since I saw the rounds of creamy goodness beautifully wrapped in palm fronds in Tangier. Though I'm not sure this is the same cheese, I enjoyed it on a fresh salad that came with olives and zaalouk, a cooked eggplant and tomato salad. This was followed by a tasty anchovy tajine, with a lemony tomato sauce.

Mid-meal, Baby scored us both a glass of tea from the neighbouring table. This sort of thing has been happening lately— the most unusual of which has been a gift of sole from the fishmonger on two separate occasions. In Morocco, men, women, and children run up to kiss a cheek or forehead— something that would horrify most Americans— a stranger kissing my baby?! I find it endearing (and cross my fingers that the kisser doesn't have a cold).

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