A Moroccan Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving in 2012 was not traditional but it was amazing.  We flew to Fes, Morocco on Thanksgiving Day for an exotic weekend in North Africa.  Unfortunately we were short one person because B’s husband M was unable to make it back in time for our trip due to some work complications.  But B was bound and determined to visit Morocco so she soldiered on and still made the trip with us. And we are so happy she did because she was the one who set everything up, and without her the trip wouldn’t have been the same!

Arriving in Fes.

We were picked up at the airport and driven into the Medina (old city).  The cars can only drive a little ways into the Medina, so we were met by a worker from our Riad, who guided us through the crowded,  winding, and small streets up to where we were staying.  Already by this point I was on overload.  Everything was so different than any place I’ve been, and my eyes were wide just trying to take in everything around me.

Our Riad (hotel) was gorgeous.  The owners Yasmine and Alex were so welcoming and friendly.  We were greeted with hot towels and were led up to our rooms for a few minutes before sitting down to our Thanksgiving dinner.  This meal was truly a feast, and it wasn’t a special meal for Thanksgiving, it is just a typical meal that is served at the Riad nightly.  In total I believe it was 4-5 courses of delicious Moroccan food.  I had never eaten Moroccan food before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I definitely didn’t miss the turkey and stuffing.

Our second course, a puff pastry filled with chicken, carrots and cabbage-amazing!
R and Hubby enjoying the main course.
Best dessert ever!  Filo dough with ice cream, cinnamon, nuts, etc.  it was kind of like sopapillas

As after any good Thanksgiving meal, we were stuffed.  So it was off to bed to get some sleep before our first big day in the Medina.

Little Fes left on our bed.

 Hubby and I were up early the next morning.  I woke up around 5 AM to the prayer calls going out over the city.  Even though it woke me up, it was kind of exciting to listen to because I had never heard them before.  It’s like one of those things you see on TV or movies, and then when you experience it in real life it’s pretty fascinating.

Our rooftop terrace overlooking Fes.
The tower and the green pyramid are mosques, I didn’t know this but green is the holy color of Islam, so if you see a green building or roof it’s probably a mosque.
Time for breakfast!

 We had a really fun tour lined up for our first day.  We were met by our guide Fatima at the Riad.  She took us into the Medina for some shopping in the market.  We were able to choose some Moroccan dishes to make, shop for the ingredients, cook it all, and then eat the feast we had made!

The Blue Gate, entrance to the market.

Shopping in the market.

This was an entrance to the University, really beautiful!
This shop was interesting, we were taking in all the things hanging from the ceiling.
Fatima explaining that these little dishes are used for holding spices and/or jellies for the table.
Beautiful pottery.

Picking out some things to take home.

By this point, our shopping was complete and we were ready to head back to Fatima’s riad for some cooking.  Shopping in the market was fun, but very different than what we’re used to.  We ended up picking out a chicken dish to make.  Well, instead of having the meat already butchered and ready to take home, they have just a bunch of live chickens.  You pick which chicken you want and he butchers it for you on the spot.  This was a little too much for the ladies to watch, so we all had to walk away and plug our ears.  But for the people who shop this market everyday, it’s normal and doesn’t bother them.  At another point when we were just walking through, a lady give me a little smack on my arm as she was passing me.  It wasn’t an accidental bump, it was an intentional little hit.  When I looked back at her she was kind of smiling so I wasn’t sure what to think of it.  I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my hair color, or overall coloring.  We all stuck out I think, but I did even more so than the others. She didn’t hurt me or anything but she definitely got my attention!

At the Riad where we did our cooking.
We’re ready to cook!
Moroccan teapots, the tea they serve here is delightful!
Intricate carvings.
Sitting down for Moroccan tea before we get to work.
All of our produce laid out and ready.

 We cooked all kinds of things, and learned some new techniques.  We learned not to boil cous cous, it should be steamed instead.  This meal took us a few hours to prepare, but it was well worth it!  And we all got a small recipe book to take home that has all these recipes and more in it.

The final products.
Ready to eat!

 After we stuffed ourselves (again) Fatima led us back to our Riad.  We stayed there the rest of the night, relaxing on the rooftop terrace drinking Moroccan tea.

It was a bit chilly.

We had another full day lined up, so it was early to bed to get ready for our guided tour of Fes.