20 June 2005

Random tidbits and cultural oddities.

Marjane- the Moroccan (well, French owned) Wal-Mart. Quite an exciting adventure- Publix meets a shopping mall with just a pinch of Target, and lots of air conditioning. It's just a cheap taxi ride away, and has almost every western food product known to man (except for jello and normal marshmallows). Also a gelato (Italy's gift to the world, aside from the art and all) stand at the entrance AND within the maze of the store. Pure heaven. No less than eight varieties of orange soda- it's quite popular over here! The entire complex makes for a nice taste of America whenever homesickness sets in (or the temperature becomes unbearable!)

Stoning- I forgot to mention an amusing anecdote from last week. After emerging from the medina in the suburbs of Fez last weekend, Matt, his roommate, and I actually had rocks thrown at us! No one panic- it's not as awful as it sounds! While we walked up the road trying to find a taxi, a few little boys threw rocks at us from a hill as we passed, then continued when we walked back again. They were just amused by the idea of three lost foreigners, and they ended up leading us through the medina to the real taxi stand after we talked to them in our broken Arabic. But, we do have the distinction of being the first (and to date, only) members of the group to be literally stoned in the street. Quite the honor...

Homestays- Thursday afternoon, Candace and I had the opportunity to experience a real Moroccan family lunch! One of the girls in our group, Zalayma, is staying in homestay up the road from the villa, and Candace and I walked her home one evening, and her "mom" ended up inviting us in to see the house. Now, Moroccan tradition dictates that you offer something to your guests, so when she asked us to sit down, we figured we'd get some mint tea, talk for a little while, and head home. Au contraire! We ended up with fresh homemade peach/orange panache (i.e. smoothies), homemade bread, homemade strawberry jam, cheese, and cookies. "A little snack." Over an hour later, Candace and I finally rolled home, stuffed with one of the best meals we'd had so far. But it gets better- during our conversation with her mom (who happens to teach at the ALIF center, so she speaks fluent English), we somehow got on the topic of couscous, which she hadn't made yet, and when Candace said she hadn't eaten it yet, and I said it was my favorite Moroccan food, we got ourselves invited back for lunch on Thursday. By far the best couscous I've had in Morocco! Traditionally, everyone eats from a large community plate in the center of the table, with their hands or silverware, depending on the family or restaurant. We literally ate a plate of couscous two feet across- no exaggeration. Excellent chicken, miscellaneous vegetables, and more panache, this times orange and carrot. For dessert, she served the best honeydew melon I've ever eaten- all of the fruits here just seem to taste so much better than back home- bananas, cherries, melons, oranges, everything. She just kept urging more and more food on us- it was amazing!

Potato Sandwiches- we discovered the cheapest and most filling lunch in the world at a little sandwich stand by the central market. It serves fried potato sandwiches with egg and mystery meat sauce for 4 dirham (about 50 cents)- the sandwiches are about 18 inches long and delicious- with a soda, it comes out to about a dollar, and you'll be full for hours. There are a lot of vegetarians in the group who order the sandwiches without sauce, but since we only recently learned the word for "without," we communicate by frantically repeating "la, la, la" (no!), when the man reaches for the spoon. Now, he just laughs at us when we go there, and pretends to put sauce on the sandwiches- at least we can be amusing in our ignorance!

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