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Showing posts from December, 2011

Moroccan Cooking Practice

Mmmm. Just a moment. Let me savor the memory of these dishes while I look at the pictures.
Okay. First: I have heard that Moroccans like to eat a lot, but I was not prepared for how much food these recipes actually made. The recipes I used noted that they were good to feed 6-8 as part of a meal. For the three people who were eating these dishes, I cut the recipes in half. Still, there was enough food for several meals of leftovers. Second: Moroccans take great pride in their gastronomy, and these recipes show it. The food requires lots of preparation. An example:

Here we have a very typical Moroccan dish: Couscous with 7 Vegetables. The couscous grains were first rinsed and allowed to dry while the grains swelled with moisture. Then, they were steamed over a broth. Then, they were taken out, moistened a bit more, tossed, rolled out, cooled, and dried. Then, they were steamed again. Finally, they were taken out and fluffed one more time before being served. The vegetables stewing underne…

Questions and Answers (part two)

What is the Peace Corps all about, anyway?


Most people tend to have a vaguely positive impression of the Peace Corps, but couldn't really tell you what it does, exactly. Some people I've talked to think it's some kind of anti-war group, and others think it's a institution for cultural imperialism. Both are inaccurate.


First, let me show you where the Peace Corps operates today, and then I'll explain its philosophy.


The darkly shaded countries are the ones in which the Peace Corps currently works, and the lightly shaded countries are sites of past projects. Often, volunteers are pulled out a country if the political situation is getting too hairy, but will be replaced after relative stability is reached. Notice that North America, Australia, Japan, and Western Europe are excluded. Also note that almost all other countries have at one time or another been included (noticably absent is Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and several Middle-Eastern countries).


As you might have gu…

Practicing Moroccan Cooking: The Plan

Those of you who know me well know that I like to cook, and one of my short-term goals is to familiarize myself with Moroccan cooking. To this end, I have planned a Moroccan meal to prepare for the family for Christmas. Here is what I hope to make:


Bread
In this part of the world, bread is sacred. If someone finds a piece lying on the ground, the custom is to pick it up, kiss it, and set it someplace safe. Moroccan bread is chewy, soft-crusted, absorbent, and makes for a great utensil. I plan to have plenty of it.


Mixed Herb Salad & Carrot Salad
Moroccans begin their meals with a series of hot or cold salads. I'll have two kinds prepared, plenty of herbs and spices in each.


Harira Soup
This is a traditional soup. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day. At sunset, they break the fast with this breakfast: Harira Soup and a bowl of fresh dates. The soup of course has many spices, as well as the addition of smen, a cooked, salted butter.


Djej Masquid Bil Beid or C…

Questions People Have Asked Me About Morocco (and the Peace Corps) (part one)

A few common reactions I get from people when I tell them I'm going to Morocco for the Peace Corps:

A: "Oh, how great! Are you having to learn French?" B: "Morocco, where is that?" C: // uncomfortable silence, perhaps slow nodding //
The people in group A know enough about history and geography to engage in the conversation. The people in group B don't know as much, but are still engaged and want to learn. They are not ashamed of their questions. Group C people do not know where Morocco is, but also feel as ifthey can't ask any questions about it, because that would reveal that they do not in fact know everything in the world, and that would make them feel foolish.
Well fear not, unquestioning ones, for I am about to share the fruits of the labors of those who have mustered up the courage to let their curiosity show. Here is the first:
Cool, Morocco! Where is that?
Morocco is the country in the Northwest corner of Africa.

Spain protrudes from the top of the pic…