Travel – The Communal Nature of Moroccan food

Breakfast: flatbreads with honey, olives, eggs, coffee and freshly pressed orange juice

One of my favourite things to do when traveling is to explore new cuisines and different cultural eating habits. Food unites people and is an integral part of any ethno-cultural identity, and merely observing the way others use it is fascinating.

A refreshing Moroccan salad and spices on the side

What stood put to me about Moroccan food was that it was comforting, simple food made tasteful by blending in a melange of spices, and made pretty by the geometric patterns the cooks always laid it out in. Even the simplest salad reminded me of tiles with intricate details, with fresh vegetables cut into neat little squares and placed next to contrasting colours.

Yet my favourite thing about Moroccan food was not even the taste or look of it, but the communal nature it carried with it. Tajines were served for whole tables of several people all at once, and everyone helped each other and themselves to as much as they wished. Eating from the same dish is something rare in Western countries nowadays, with everyone ordering their own portions at restaurants. There are two main reasons I loved this refreshing communal way of eating in Morocco:

  1. There was a sense of sharing experiences with others. Whilst it is interesting to order different dishes, it was another experience completely to share the same food and ask others how they found it. Different people liked different aspects of it, and as they pointed something out about the way say, a carrot was cooked, everyone else could immediately connect and test this out for themselves. It also felt as though sitting down to share a huge meal connected people in a very broad way, with everyone engaging in the same activity for a few hours.
  2. There was less food waste. Everyone has different appetites and needs, and what I find a pity in Western restaurants is that so much food ends ip being wasted since portion sizes are standardised. This was not a problem in Morocco, as the portions tended to be balanced out between large amounts of people, with everyone ending up content and plates ending up empty.

Couscous and tea on a sunny terrace on the rooftops of Marrakech

Having observed this way of eating, I am definitely going to make an effort to experiment with and cook more dishes to be shared between large amounts of people.

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