This last Tuesday was, besides being the inauguration of our new president, my first Birthday spent outside of the country and with entirely new friends and faces. It really was one of those days that I woke up and couldn’t believe where I was, and where I have been for four and a half months. This was highlighted with watching the inauguration speech at my Moroccan friend/tutor’s house. It is a strange thing to feel connected to a country when you are outside of it. I believe at one point President Obama mentioned something about reaching out to Muslim nations, and it really hit home.
In any case, as with all reasons to celebrate, much delicious food was made. We ended up celebrating Monday night with two Birthdays, also that of my tutors the Tuesday before. I made two cakes, one strawberry-banana and the other flourless chocolate-almond. The strawberry-banana cake could have used some re-adjustment to the recipe or execution, but the chocolate cake was quite a success in my opinion, and in any case everything was eaten and enjoyed. I am slowly conquering the Moroccan oven and lack of usual measuring devices!
Tuesday, my actual Birthday, my host mom and aunt made Bastilla and Seffa. Bastilla is a famous Moroccan dish made with poultry (chicken in this case) cooked in aromatic spices, nuts (peanuts), eggs, layered between sheets of pastry dough and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. I had heard so much about this dish I had to document the assembly. I’ve included here a photo of my host-mom layering in the peanuts and chicken. Seffa is made with couscous or, in this case thin noodles. Raisins, nuts, cinnamon and sugar are usually incorporated into this sweet dish. I continuously am amazed and admire the amount of time and work put into Moroccan cooking. Although sometimes you can catch a break by serving leftovers from another meal, eating out is almost unheard of if you have a family. Much time is spent in the kitchen. More than perhaps even I would enjoy.
All this tasty and very filling food has strengthened my resolve to go on a post host-family diet come February first when I move out. Inshallah.
I am currently serving in Peace Corps, Morocco, as a small business developer working with artisans since September 2008. I have a Master of Fine Art, in studio art from Washington University in St. Louis.