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Being invited to a Moroccan home is an honor. Knowing what to expect can make the experience much more enjoyable.
Most people who go to Morocco go for the beaches or the souks of Marrakesh. Very few people seem to be able to get under the skin of the place and really explore it. The best way is, of course, by making friends with the locals.
Moroccans tend to be very hospitable and will spend their last dirham on providing a nice meal for a guest in their home. It might be tea and cakes but it will be served in the best teapot with the cakes on hand embroidered serviettes. And they won't be cakes bought in a shop. Oh no, everything is made from scratch. The women bake and cook daily and there seems to be an endless supply of cakes, biscuits and pastries.
The typical way of eating in Morocco might go like this: breakfast is coffee with plenty of sugar (Moroccans eat a lot of sugar) and a pastry of some sort. Lunch is the main meal of the day and will be eaten around 1pm. It might be a Tajine of lamb with broad beans and peas, eaten with the daily baked flat bread that is the staple of the Moroccan diet. Also served with the main meal might be side dishes of eggplant puree or a salad. Meals are eaten using the bread as the utensil to pick up the meat and vegetables. One advantage of everyone eating of the same platter is that one tends to eat less than one would if it were served individually on plates. Most Westerners who move to Morocco tend to lose weight over time. Partly from eating such healthy and fresh food and partly from eating smaller portions.
After the meal there will typically be a large bowl of seasonal fruit on the table and everyone takes a knife and peels or cuts the pieces they want. Sometimes there might be some yoghurt. Around 6pm, sweet, hot, green tea made with fresh mint is served with pastries, Msemen, also known as Rghaif (a sort of fried bread that can be savoury or sweet) and biscuits. Later on that night, from 9pm onwards, another supper is served. It might soup or spaghetti. Fruit will again be served afterwards and is typically the main dessert in Morocco.
The Moroccan diet, while high in sugar, is very healthy. The fruit and vegetables eaten daily are seasonal and always fresh. Most housewives shop every day for food so there is little that is kept in the way of leftovers. Bread is eaten with almost everything and knives and forks rarely used.
The Moroccan Salon
When visiting a Moroccan home, the first thing you do is take off your shoes. Most Moroccan women wear shoes that are open at the back so it's very easy to slip in and out of them. A Moroccan salon, where the family gather to eat, celebrate and greet guests is set up with sofas that are built into the walls and typically line at least three of the walls in a room. The more affluent families stuff the seats with sheep's wool which would be taken from the sheep that are sacrificed at Eid El Kebir each year. These seats are quite firm and, when the cushions that line the wall are taken off them, make wonderful beds. Indeed, this is where visiting family members will typically sleep. Some homes have two or more salons for a variety of uses. One for daily family use and one to use with visitors. These salons are often beautifully decorated with fabrics that complement each other. The richer the family, the more sumptuous the salon.