Tuesday 21st October – A cooking lesson in Fes

We meet at the Cafe at 10am for coffee and a chat before we start the cooking lesson. Souad is funny and cheeky and takes us through what the plan is. I had been given a menu to choose my favourite from each course and luckily we all agreed on the same thing.

Our group is made up of Adrian and Jodie from UK, Jude who is about my age from Melbourne and here traveling with her partner, Jamie who is American who is traveling alone and she did a cooking course yesterday, but this turned out so much better so tells us after.

It’s cheap at the price of NZ$85 for five hours which includes a selection of recipes but I buy the cookbook at the end as I know we are going to really enjoy these flavours. There are similarities to Nana’s Lebanese cooking, but different again.

We have chosen Harira soup that has a bean base and it is thick with tomatoes and vermicelli. I think it resembles a minestrone. It is traditionally eaten during Ramadan but first stop is the butcher for Lamb for the Tagine.

We are eating a soup called B’sarra with a base of beans or chickpeas and lots of garlic. We aren’t making this so Souad takes us to a place where we can try it out in the Medina while we are shopping.

Next stop is the bread and she explains the different kinds of Moroccan bread before buying some for us to try.

Back in the kitchen we start the soup onto a simmer and as a bonus make a smokey aubergine and pepper purée to go on the bread we have bought at the market. Then we mix the ingredients for the Tagine and it is put into a pressure cooker as we don’t have the four or five hours it traditionally takes to slow cook. Nobody really cooks in these now Souad explains, everybody uses pressure cookers to keep costs and time down, but it can be presented to the table in the traditional way. While that is simmering away Souad starts us on the Macaroons.

…and then we get to eat it all! Delicious and all of it is relatively easy and interpersed with little tidbits of Moroccan culture, things like explanations about distillation of orange and rose blossom, the different spices and how to preserve lemons. It was a really nice group and we got along well. It was really cool chatting and sharing each other’s journeys and asking Souad about her life.

I waited behind for Gilbert after everyone left and Souad and I sat together sharing our family photos on our phones. She showed me family wedding photos that she was in and without a scarf and in shimmering long green and blue robes and her thick black hair she looked stunning.
This is definitely one of my highlights and I am so glad I did it. Look out kids, we’ll be having lots of this kind of cooking you’ll be pleased to hear!

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