In Fez, the streets of the medina are filled with food. All the residents come to the food section of the souk every morning to buy their daily groceries. They know the butcher and the baker by name, ask how the family is doing to the green grocer. As you are walking in the small alleys, you give way to the baker carrying breads.
Fresh herbs are sold next to argan oil and olives. This is heaven for anybody who loves to cook. I took a cooking class here at Cafe Clock with Maidja Souad, a wonderful woman chef. Souad speaks Arabic, English, French and Berber; pretty much like all Moroccans. After talking about kids, family, and cooking, Jale and Souad went to the souk to buy fresh herbs, vegetables, lamb and freshly baked crepe like flatbread called msemen,
Watching Souad talk to everybody at the food souk was fun. She was joking with the butcher one moment and the next she was telling the grocer to give her the best zucchinis. She talked about several dishes we'd prepare together as we filled our baskets with dates and veggies.
Souad told the henna lady about me, and two minutes later she had henna on my hand! I waited for ten minutes for henna to dry and then Souad put sugar water on it, then washed it. My henna was ready.
Almond cookies with orange blossom water
After shopping and joking with the grocers and bakers, we came back to Cafe Clock to start the cooking class.
I chose to learn 3 items at the cooking class: harira soup, couscous with seven vegetables and lamb, and macaroon with orange blossom water (my favorite).
This is comfort food for Moroccans. It's traditionally served at Ramadan to break the fast. For 4 people
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup vermicelli
1 medium onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped parsley and cilantro
1/2 cup corn flour
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
In a large pot, add 1 liter of water. Blend tomatoes, onion and garlic and add them into the pot. Add all spices, tomato paste, olive oil, herbs and cook for 20 minutes. Then add chickpeas, vermicelli and corn flour. Stir well to thicken. When cooked, take it off the fire and add some coriander. You can serve with with chopped cilantro, parsley and a wedge of lemon.
Here is the seven vegetables couscous we cooked together.
couscous with seven vegetables
It was a wonderful cooking class where I learned a lot about this fabulous cuisine. Souad and I shared cooking techniques and laughed a lot. This is one of those experiences where you feel like there are people similar to you at the other side of the world. I will definitely be working with her when I send my guests to Fez.