Morocco rises to the top of gastronomic destinations
Known for its aromas, its spices, and the hospitality of its inhabitants, this destination in North Africa is increasingly coveted for its cuisine. An art closely linked to the country’s history and customs.
From awards to international rankings, Moroccan cuisine has become one of the attractions of the Cherifian Kingdom which has just been declared the second country for its gastronomy by the British site WorldSIM, which collects the opinions of travelers. All boast a variety of dishes, which come from several backgrounds and various influences. It actually reflects the complex history of a country and the different populations that have lived there. Between the spices brought by the Arabs, the dates and cereals imported by the Bedouin nomads of the desert, and the couscous which has sub-Saharan, Jewish, and even Asian colors… A multitude of influences has given birth to an extremely rich cuisine, which finds also its footprints in Turkish cultures (importers of the famous mechoui) and Andalusian cultures. Indeed, after the Arab-Muslim conquests of the 7th century, the Moors (commonly called Muslims) left Andalusia, bringing their heritage to Morocco.
A know-how that is transmitted through the generations
The richness of Moroccan cuisine also comes from ancestral know-how, which has always known how to cross the generations. Moreover, there are tips from grandmothers who once made it possible to preserve food. They then invented smen, a rancid butter made from salt and oregano, known for its pronounced taste; khliî, spicy dried meat from Fez that can be found in every home. Finally, amlou is based on Argan oil, this tonic is served at breakfast like a spread. Since then, this cuisine has been exclusively the domain of women. Most of them don’t read recipe books and don’t follow precise dosages. They reproduce the gestures of their mother and their grandmother. And it is precisely this personalization of the preparations which gives this infinite number of variants, of appearances for the same dish. Thus, a couscous will never look like another.
Traditionally, the meal begins with raw or cooked salads or cold vegetable purees. Dishes often mix sweet and savory, with meat and fish seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, ginger, or coriander. The pastries finally bring out the aromas of orange blossom and honey, usually served with mint tea.
But, unlike the English and their tea-time, Moroccans drink tea at any time, for any occasion, to welcome a guest or simply to quench their thirst. This tradition of mint tea is not the most ancestral, it only arrived in the middle of the 18th century in British cargoes.
Between urban cuisine and gastronomy
Moroccan cuisine consists of inexpensive products. Spices, herbs, and flower waters can transform any dish into a veritable feast. For several years, specialists have wanted to give this apparently simple food a gastronomic cachet, prized by gourmets. The three-star chef Yannick Alleno has also succeeded in modernizing Moroccan dishes in the very luxurious Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech. The creator of MarrakChef, Ludovic Antoine, wanted, for his part, to bring Moroccan gastronomy to the international scene, through competitions also organized in Marrakech. In Paris, chef Fatéma Hal shines her cuisine in her restaurant “Mansoura”: “It’s a very rich universe. Between a cuisine sometimes regional, sometimes bourgeois city, passing by that of the poor so rich in taste. Moreover, the street food interests tourists, while that of the big cities reveals the secrets of a country that has not finished surprising”. The microclimate also brings the quality of the products, between sun and freshness. Morocco offers richness and diversity in its dishes, and its ancestral techniques. The street food interests the tourist and that of the imperial cities reveals the secrets of a country that has not finished surprising.