Driving through the desert from Marrakesh to Essaouira, we crossed through a barren landscape. As we got closer to the coast, the landscape became spotted with trees. The land was still barren enough that a young boy standing on the side road didn’t have to move to capture our attention. His hair was bleached from the sun and his skin a deep brown. He looked about six or seven years old. He stood patiently and made no gestures. A large smile took hold of his face when he saw us pull over. He ran up to our car, holding a reused plastic water bottle filled with amber oil with both his hands. A bit of plastic bag was tied around the bottle opening to keep the contents from spillilng. For 25 dirhams we bought a full bottle of pure argan oil. The boy tramped off, excited and relieved, to wherever home was hiding.
About argan oil
You may know that bessara is a fava bean soup eaten in Morocco, particularly in the north. And, you may notice that is a picture of orange lentils on the right, not fava beans. But, bear with me.
Fake Bessara Recipe
If there is one food that is associated with Morocco, it is couscous. I’ve seen couscous salads marketed in grocery stores as “Moroccan couscous salad.” However, my family only eats couscous prepared in one way: Seven Vegetable Couscous. Its a great Sunday meal or on any day when you want to gather family and friends around the table.
Recipe for Seven Vegetable Couscous
My first pot-luck in Morocco, I decided to contribute chocolate chip cookies. I struggled to convert fahrenheit to celsius (note to bakers: 350F = ~177C), beat a chocolate bar into chips, and explain, using the little French I knew, the difference between baking powder and baking soda. My cookies came out flat, but well-praised. I yearned for the grace of Aisha’s chicken tagine. She arrived carrying it, prepared in advance by her maid, in a pressure cooker. A few moments reheating on the stove, and it was perfect. Recipe for Chicken Tagine.