Kuli!: My Three-Course Plan to Switching up Meals in Morocco

Brianna Gist
November 14, 2019

Let's face it: food is central to everything we do. 

It's a social activity that brings us joy and nourishment, and is often the best way for us to learn about other cultures and traditions. I grew up as an adventurous foodie and have always loved trying different types of cuisines. All kinds of delicious scents wafted through my childhood home, and whether it was Indian or Puerto Rican food for dinner, I always looked forward to trying a new cuisine every couple of days.

But what happens when you can't find that steak and cheese burrito you've been craving, or can't order your favorite panang curry for takeout? 

Such is the predicament in which I found myself upon living in Rabat this semester. Morocco is known for its delicious tajines, couscous, kefta, harira soups, pastilas, and fresh fruits, and it's been wonderful to sample a variety of traditional Moroccan dishes. However, it can become a little frustrating to eat the same meals every couple of days, especially when we eat couscous with our host families every Friday. We urban Americans tend to forget that it is a privilege to have every type of cuisine available at our disposal, typically within a 10-mile radius of our home, school, or work location. Therefore, rotating between four or five core dishes can become difficult for foodies who are accustomed to a high turnover rate of cuisines and flavors. How can we rectify this predicament? 

My Three-Course Plan to Switching up Your Meals in Morocco

I. Hors d’oeuvres: Want a quick bite to eat? Order in!

The price of living in Morocco is much more reasonable than I expected. The other day, I bought a 1.5 liter bottle of water and taxied home for about $1.50, and it’s pretty common to pay anywhere between $4.00 and $8.00 for a full meal (including drinks). The best way to shake up my routine has been to order meals to the IES Abroad Center using Glovo. It’s very affordable and just like Postmates or Grubhub, we have instant access to a variety of cuisines in the Rabat area. It’s the perfect way to have a snack between classes or before going home for dinner, which is normally served between 9:00 and 10:00pm. Burrito House, Sushi Box, and Eat Thai are our Glovo favorites!

II. Entrée: Don’t be afraid to tell your host family what you like and don’t like.

In the first few weeks, I was hesitant to tell my host mom about my eating preferences or ask her for certain foods because I didn’t want to be disrespectful toward her cooking; however, I’ve discovered that this is very far from the truth. She really appreciates it when I tell her about the meals that I particularly enjoy, and is very accommodating when mentioning that I’m not the biggest fan of tuna, sardines, or olives. After telling her that I loved her soup, homemade pizza, and spaghetti, I noticed that she was more likely to remake these meals in the future. Even though we are still served a heavy dose of traditional Moroccan dishes, she does a great job of serving us different entrées like pasta and potato pancakes.

III. Dessert: Make your own!

With your host family’s permission, inviting friends over to bake or make sweets is a great way to take a study break. It was exciting to find recipes for chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and Halloween spider cookies and improvise when making them at home. Don’t get me wrong, treasure hunting to find the proper ingredients at the hanoots and grocery stores was a challenge, and it required a bit of flexibility to successfully pull off a sufficient treat. Yet in the end, it was worth it to sit down and enjoy a little slice of home. This advice applies to entrées as well: my roommate, Emily Burkhard, is vegan and it’s been difficult for her to enjoy meals that she’s used to consuming at home; therefore, she purchased her own tofu, spinach, and broccoli from the grocery store to cook for lunch. “It’s been really helpful to buy fresh vegetables and foods with iron from the grocery store,” she said, “And host families are pretty helpful in providing what you need.”

We also love switching up our meals by going out to try new restaurants during the weekend. Some of our favorites in Rabat include Yamal Acham for traditional Syrian food, Maison Beyrouth for Lebanese, Casa José for tapas and paella, Ty Potes for crêpes, and Il Giordino for Italian. I highly encourage you to explore the city for exciting foods - you never know what you’ll find!

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Brianna Gist

<p>I am a rising junior studying Linguistics, Government, French, and Spanish at Georgetown University. If all goes right my my life, I would love to devote my career to diplomacy and peace studies or to preserving endangered languages. I am a proud Chicago native and a huge foodie who loves to swim and do bikram yoga. At school, I am a writing consultant specializing in humanities papers, blogs, op-eds, and presentations, and I also sing as a soprano in the Gospel Choir. It is a privilege to be studying abroad in Morocco, and I greatly look forward to my time in Rabat!</p>

2019 Fall
Home University:
Georgetown University
Chicago, IL
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