For breakfast, many Moroccans eat bread with olive oil, tea, and different kinds of Moroccan crepes. Lunch is the big meal in Moroccan households. Members of the family come home from work and school and they all sit around a low table in the salon. Traditionally, a female member of the family comes before the meal with a kettle of water, soap, an aluminum basin and a dishtowel which she hangs over her forearm. She comes around to every person at the table, pours a little water on their hands to wash with soap and then rinse. With everyone gathered around one big plate, the meal starts when the head of the family says “bismillah” (in the name of God). Using their right hand and a piece bread to scoop up the food, the feast begins! At lunch in most houses, you will find a selection of salads and a tagine or couscous all put out on the table at the same time. Then the host will clear the table, bring out a fruit plate and serve tea. Since lunch is so big, dinner is usually low-key. People sometimes eat leftovers from lunch or they might prepare a soup. The exception to this is big occassions, like weddings, which are always held at night and feature an enormous feast. The meal starts with a pastilla. Next, comes the tagine (either chicken or meat). After that, the couscous is served. Then comes a fruit plate. Finally, when you think that you don’t have an inch of room left in your stomach, the host serves mint tea with almond-filled pastries.
Bread, or khubz is sacred inMorocco. If a piece of bread from the dinner table falls on the ground, you areto pick it up and kiss it. It is also forbidden to throw away bread, sofamilies keep their leftover bread aside to give to the poor, or to thelivestock. Since very few Moroccan households have an oven, almost everyneighborhood has a community oven where people take their bread dough to bebaked. In the countryside, every family has its own traditional oven made ofmud. At the table, instead of a fork and knife, Moroccans use a small piece ofbread, their thumb and first two fingers to pick up food. You may discover thatit becomes more useful than a fork at times, since you can use it to soak upthe tasty sauce of the tagine while also picking pieces of meat and vegetables.Since bread plays such an important role in eating, it is always distributedevenly at meals so that no one will have to ask for a piece.
Soups and Salads
Harira is the mostimportant soup in Morocco as it serves as the breaker of the fast during thewhole month of Ramadan. During this month, at the break of the fast, harira isaccompanied by dates, warm milk, juices, bread and traditional Moroccanpancakes. At the moment of the call to prayer, Moroccans all over the countryutter “bismillah” (in the name of God), bite into a date and sip a spoonful ofharira – their first taste of food after a long day of fasting. Harira is atomato-based soup with chick peas, meat, lentils and small noodles.
Moroccansalads can be divided into two types: cooked salads and raw salads. RawMoroccan salad is made of finely diced tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green pepperand cilantro. It is topped with a regular oil and vinegar sauce. Cooked salads,such as zaalouk,bakoula and choukchouka are made ofdifferent combinations of vegetables and spices all cooked together in a pan.