Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Good Porking

Morocco is a Muslim country so of course there's no pork served. No bacon or sausage for breakfast, only hard-boiled eggs, tomato, cheese, and chocolate croissants. I was only there for ten days, but somehow I went through major withdrawal and have gone, ahem, hog-wild with the pork upon my return.

Maybe that's the source of my stomach sickness, which I managed to avoid while in Morocco. Was it the pepperoni on the pizza at Uno's? The pepperoni on the pizza at Nick's? The spicy pork salami at Gottino last night? The bacon at Marshall Stack tonight?

I actually really enjoyed the bacon-free food in Morocco, from the authentic tagines and couscous to the Arabian specialties at McDonald's, like the delicious "Chicken Mythic" (which didn't make me feel very mystical but was yummy nevertheless). Eventually I got sick of tourist food, which was typically chicken couscous and beef tagine, but when I got to try something a little different - like the kefta kebab tagine with an egg cracked on top, or the chicken and almond pastilla topped with powdered sugar - I relished the opportunity.

eggy tagine pastilla
The staples in Morocco were very good too. They have amazing orange groves that produce the most delicious juice you've ever tasted, which was a nice reliable component of our daily breakfast, and a nice refreshing option at the outdoor markets. The locally-produced wine (mostly from Meknes, but also a bit from wineries north of Casablanca) is the perfect nightcap, whether sipped while watching the sun set on a rooftop bar or in the hotel lobby to wash down some spicy snails.

sardines donut
The bread was always the same too, though very often baked by each restaurant rather than imported. At one of our coffee stops, we got to order our own custom sandwich, where I ordered sardines with tomatoes and onion, served on a weird Arabic wedding paper plate that went perfectly with a bottle of Fanta Orange.

Sometimes the best foods were the most unexpected, like the freshly-fried doughnuts we stumbled upon at the port in Casablanca, recommended by our local tour guide and sold for only 3DH apiece (though extremely hard to stop at just one, wiping the apricot jam from your chin and brushing the granulated sugar from your hands on your pants).

I easily get accustomed to food habits, so I find myself missing Moroccan food here in New York as much as I'm trying to make up for the food I was missing while I was in Morocco. I guess my constitution is kind of confused. Either I need to stay in one place for a while, or I just need to get used to travelling more.

In any case, it's time for some mint tea to settle my stomach.