Team Peterson had the opportunity to partake in the cooking of Morocco for 15 days. And we loved the food.
In addition, we were lucky enough to have scheduled two different cooking classes. One, in the Sahara desert area of the country, and the other took place in Fez.
In the desert area our class took place in the home of one of our guides. His sister and the next door neighbor were our instructors. In all cases our cooking instructors were women. In Morocco, the women do the cooking.
We learned was how to make the classic “Moroccan salad,” which consists of carrots, eggplant, squash, green beans. Interestingly, these ingredients are often served separately, each on small serving plates. And, the other thing about the classic “Moroccan salad” is that it is most often served hot. Each of the ingredients are cooked.
Notice what is not there in this salad. No lettuce, no dressing. In other words, very healthy. And, for extra careful travelers from the States like us, it is perfect when traveling to a different country. The reason being that we never trust the water, and always drink our water from bottles. We take this to such an extreme that we don’t eat lettuce and other fresh vegetables which have been washed in water. We only eat the vegetables when they have been cooked. I know this sounds extreme, but it has served us well over the years. For example, on the trip we just concluded – 15 days in Morocco – not one of the four of us ever had a moment of pause because of some problem with our stomach and the like.
As with any food served the key to the salad are the spices that are added during the cooking. In this case, in addition to salt and ground pepper, we added saffron, cumin, garlic, and paprika to name a few.
The second cooking class we took was in Fez, and what an experience this was. Our instructor/master chef was this vibrant, energetic, ball of fire woman who took us under her wing and had us involved, using our hands in each step of the process.
First, she took us with her to the souk of Fez, where we shopped for ingredients. We moved effortlessly from stall to stall in the labyrinthine souk.
During our 4-hour class, we not only purchased the ingredients, but we sliced and diced, we mixed, we added spices, we cooked and we had the pleasure of eating what we had made. So much fun.
The takeaways for me were several. But before we talk about the takeaways, you need to know that I love to broil anything on the grill, but beyond that I am, and I am not proud of this, a microwave kind of guy. If I am not grilling, I am microwaving.
So, for me the takeaways were:
First, cooking this way (sourcing the ingredients, washing the food, slicing and dicing, adding spices, cooking and tasting, and serving) takes a long time. We spent over 3+ hours before we sat down to eat. For comparison, if I am microwaving it is either 3 minutes or 5 minutes depending upon what the package says.
Second, getting fresh ingredients on the day of the cooking is important. Farm to table. No processed foods. So healthy and it forces you to engage with your local community.
Third, spices are really important. Makes all the difference in the world.
In short, we loved our cooking class experiences!!