Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kla-to eat

By joining the Peace Corps in Morocco I agreed to live like the average member of my community in which I am placed in. Peace Corps generally only serves in low income communities. Which this means I live a low income life. This being said I have never gone hungry. I can tell my family does not have a money tree growing in their backyard, but our table is never shy for food. Malika must always be assured that I have had enough to eat and that I am full.
In my house my family eats in front of the t.v. (same and I do at home in the US J ) We eat at a small, short, round table while sitting on pillows on the ground. Typically for breakfast Moroccans eat bread, with maybe some cheese and/or jam spread on. Lunch, typically served at 1pm, is the big meal of the day. It usually includes a tajine. A tajine is a type of “pot” if you will, that you cook food in on the stove. Usually the contents of a tajine are called “tajine” as well. In a tajine there is usually a type of meat, like beef or chicken, and cooked vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, and green beans. Silverware is not use on every occasion. Bread is a part of every single meal. Bread becomes silverware. To get at the food in the tajine you break off pieces of bread and use it to scoop it up. The food in the tajine is communal. You must respect your “triangle.” That is the food that is in the dish directly in front of you. And if you are wondering about eating with your left hand allow me to clear up your confusion. In Islam the right hand is the hand that is used for shaking hands, offering money, or food. The left hand is used for “personal business.” Meaning it is the one you clean yourself with after using the restroom. You see where this is going.
The meat is usually buried at the bottom of the vegetables. This is a signal that you eat it last. When it is time to eat the meat someone, usually mom, will break it up into portions for everyone. Then the meat is eaten with your fingers and you don’t have a plate. As an American this practice seems somewhat rude and sometimes even gross but hey “when in Rome” right? After the main meal we usually have some fruit for dessert. Apples, grapes, and melon are quite common. Dinner is a small meal, and is saved until 8pm or after. Sometimes the leftovers from lunch are fashioned into something new for dinner. For me it’s usually a nice snack to have before bed to assure I am not hungry in the night or starving in the morning. All these things are typical of my family but generally speaking they are true to many other families. Feeding those who are hungry is something that Moroccans do gladly. If I am visiting a friends house around dinnertime I am always invited to join, even if I didn’t give notice or it’s last minute. I have found that even strangers will invite you into their homes to eat with them with pleasure.