The Food Staple of Morocco

Couscous Fridays by Marianne Fisher

Last summer, six students and I traveled abroad to Morocco to live with host families in the country’s capital, Rabat. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience in which I gained a deeper understanding of myself, and the world. However one of the most enjoyable aspects of culture for many are the diverse types of foods. In Morocco, the national food is a delectable dish called Couscous, and is one you’re sure not to forget after eating.

A cross between pasta and wheat, the Couscous itself is particularly similar to rice. It is served with steamed vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnip) and meats (most commonly lamb and chicken), which are prepared with strong spices and herbs. The process of making Couscous is quite arduous, and often takes long periods of time to prepare unless the couscous itself is precooked and packaged. The veggies and meats are made separately and often tops the Couscous.

In Morocco, Couscous is traditionally served every Friday, since it corresponds with the religious day of the week (parallel to America’s Sundays.) Families stay home and spend hours preparing plenty of foods to go with the Couscous, and often make extras. Leftovers or extra portions are left on the outside front steps for the less fortunate to partake of. Most meals, and particularly Couscous, are served with traditional Moroccan mint tea and pickled olives. Utensil use is rare, though couscous can be very tricky to eat with the hands. Practice and patience will get you far with this meal if you decide to consume it the customary way.

I refer to Couscous as the staple of Morocco not only because it is the customary and national dish, but because of it's outstanding use of healthy additions (Of course depending what you mix with it.) It consists of mostly pasta, often whole wheat, with a vast variety of veggies and small portions of meat. Steamed to perfection, Couscous provides plenty of kick with a balanced assortment of foods. The couscous beads themselves are low in sodium and fat, and soak up tremendous amounts of mouthwatering flavor when mixed with supplementary foods and spices. Great as a side dish or "a perfect meal," couscous will make any day special.


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